Monday, March 23, 2015

Close To Shore

Close To Shore

Juvenile nonfiction
I'm sure if I were to hum a few notes, DUM dum dum dum DUM dum
dum, you would probably imagine a huge grey head, mouth agape showing
a fearsome array of teeth, popping suddenly out of the water. Since
Peter Benchley's Jaws appeared on the big screen quite a few of us
overestimate our danger of becoming shark chow. The concept of the
rogue shark with an insatiable hunger for human flesh has become well
intrenched in our collective consciousness.
Can you believe that in the opening decades of the twentieth
century people believed the opposite--that human eating sharks were
merely an artifice of old fisherman's tales? (Would those be marine
legends?) Things changed in July of 1916 when four people were killed
and one severely injured by a monster from the deep off the New Jersey
coast. Michael Capuzzo's Close To Shore with its wealth of period
photographs and drawings takes readers back to that long ago summer
when scepticism gave way to terror among both natives and
vacationers. This is a fascinating narrative but not for kids to whom
it might give nightmares.
Actually, as Capuzzo acknowledges in the end, sharks are more in
danger from humans that we ever were from them. There is, for
example, a huge market for shark fins. Procuring one involves
removing a body part without anything for the pain which must be
terrible and then tossing the maimed and unable to swim shark into the
water to suffocate or be devoured alive. Can you say cruel and
What is it with humans and our overfearing the unlikeliest
dangers while not giving the far more probable ones their due? Any
one of us is far more likely to be killed in a car crash with a
distracted driver than to be devoured by a denizen of the deep. (Does
my penchant for alliteration get annoying sometimes?)
On a personal note, I have found a way to get my sweet tooth under
control. I realized I had fallen into the pattern of sweets as
rewards. Mom gave me ice cream for being good at the dentist, dessert
for eating supper... I started substituting non sweets rewards such
as a phone chat with one of my kids or a friend, a cuddle with Joey
cat, scented hand lotion, a few minutes for cross stitch... It is
working for me.
A great big shout out goes put to the marine scientists who help us
gain new knowledge about sharks and other ocean dwellers.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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