Sharks of the Shallows: Coastal Species in Florida and the Bahamas
Jeffrey C Carrier
Johns Hopkins University Press Baltimore, £25.99
Although the author, who has a distinguished background in marine biology, states that this book is not an ID guide, it would certainly aid in preparation and confirmation of the identification of the observed species mentioned. The text aims at enabling the reader to have a better understanding of the sharks and rays listed, and this is increased with the superb photography and appropriate illustrations.
The introduction considers the emotions people have about sharks, both sensationalist and respectful, discusses the shark fossil record and family tree going back to the Devonian Period, and looks at the distinguishing features of these cartilaginous fish, including their way of life, adaptations, breathing mechanisms, buoyancy, skin, teeth, mating, reproduction, feeding and digestion.
Indeed, the power of this book lies with the embellishments within the introduction, which covers the personal research and encounters of the author. The second and third parts of the text deal with the sharks and rays respectfully – 32 species are considered, supported by 26 pages of references. There are details of each species' identifying features, frequency, distinguishing behaviours, range and distribution, habitat preference, size, age, growth, feeding, conservation and management status. Readers from a wide range of ages and abilities will find their admiration of these fishes to be greatly enhanced.
Jean Wilson MBE CBiol FRSB