Shark by Paul De Gelder

From shark attack survivor to the shark’s biggest advocate, Paul de Gelder tells us just why these majestic diverse animals need our help as much as we need them.

Something happens to you the first time you dive with sharks…

We have a perennial fascination with sharks. Portrayed in the media and popular culture as killing machines, we are awed by their power and strength. But the shark is so much more – a marvel of the sea, they have evolved over 450 million years into over 500 species, from the bioluminescent kitefin to the tiny dwarf lantern shark, the sociable lemon shark to the blue shark, which can birth up to 100 pups in one litter. Bringing balance to the ocean’s ecosystem, our planet is at serious risk when these amazing creatures are threatened.

Paul de Gelder, who lost two limbs in a shark attack during a mission as an elite Australian navy clearance diver, spent time as part of his recovery learning all about sharks. He became so obsessed that, despite what happened to him, he is now an expert and has dedicated his life to helping save them. Shark is his love-letter to these unfairly vilified animals, and his warning to the world about what will happen if we don’t look out for them.” — Book summary from Amazon.

This is such an important book not just for sharks but for our oceans as a whole. The author is a shark attack survivor who then became an advocate for these misunderstood (and quickly becoming endangered) beauties of the sea. He is honest about his attack but holds no ill-will towards the shark in question or sharks as a species. He begins by teaching us a bit about shark anatomy and differences in specific shark species while also sharing stories about the many times he has dived with sharks since his attack. He also talks about the way the media has portrayed sharks over the years and how this has greatly damaged their reputations and safety in their own home. When we enter the ocean, we are the invaders. We seem to forget that fact. Our safety in an environment we do not need to be a part of should not trump the safety of the creatures who live in it.

We all need to know how our actions are affecting our planet and the helpless animals we share it with. De Gelder explains how the fishing industry as well as people who hunt big fish simply for sport is severely damaging the fish populations and the health of our oceans. If we lose the diversity of our oceans, we lose everything. When our greed creates irreversible damage, there will be no one to save us. But by saving the creatures we have endangered, we also save ourselves. And we can save them. De Gelder outlines ways big and small that can help reverse the damages done and why it is in our best interest to do so. And soon.

If you love the ocean and all the majestic creatures which live in it, this is a must read! It has so much heart and opened my eyes to the true importance of our seas.

Here are some resources to check out regarding shark/ocean conservation:
Sea Shepherd
Shark Allies
Shark Angels
Shark Conservation Fund
Minorities in Shark Sciences

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