Book #25 – The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey
A while back I saw Susan Casey on Charlie Rose talking about her recent book on giant waves. An interesting interview and a topic I know nothing about. I took a look for The Wave at PaperbackSwap and saw that Casey had also written a book about great white sharks and the Farallon Islands. The Farallons are a group of islands 30 miles west of San Fransisco. They are a big breeding ground for seals and therefore a stop over in great white shark migration. They’re also a weird hub of biodiversity and a creepy, harsh place to live on or work from. Again this is a place I’d never heard of and was intrigued by.
The book is roughly in three parts. In the first, Casey describes how she came to be interested in white sharks and her first visit to the Farallons, basically as journalist. She covers the research that has been being done at the islands, but doesn’t go into great detail. For the rest of the book, I supposed. The second part involves her second trip back during the off-season shark-wise. She also includes some of the history of the Farallons. They’ve been a hub for fur hunters, egg hunters (sea bird eggs were a commodity in gold-rush San Fransisco before enough chickens made it west), and the US military. The place is inhospitable and has a long history of maritime tragedy.
Which makes Casey’s decisions in the third portion of the book somewhat befuddling. She writes on page 169:
"The chance to be with people who possessed these elegant survival skills, I realized, was a big part of what had drawn me here. This was an oasis of competence in a bumbling world, clean and straight where things were usually compromised and bent."
Unfortunately, she proves that she’s pretty much a part of that bumbling world. While she has very little sailing experience and a doesn’t seem particularly interested in gaining any expertise, she pushes to be the sea-bound member of the Shark Project’s experimental floating research platform. Things, of course, go awry and Casey doesn’t seem to feel much responsibility for the results. She chalks it all up to being "shark crazy;" that anyone who has seen a white shark would understand her want to see more. I don’t buy it. For me this attitude soured what might have been a really interesting book.
Five more books in a month and a half? I might be able to make my 30-book goal yet.
Other things read and links to my reading notes:
The Popinjay’s Daughter, by Anne Cross
Memory Boxes by Pam L. Wallace
Household Spirits, by C. S. E. Cooney