By Heather Brown
Shark! by Jeffrey L. Rotman; Ipso Facto Publishers; hardcover. For more information, call (609) 219-0040.
In this fascinating pictorial documentation of one of nature's most intriguing creatures, Rotman brings both the diving and scientific communities a truly original and fearless offering. Perhaps the greatest reward that a reader can draw is the knowledge of an experience that one might otherwise never have the opportunity to encounter. Shark! extends this invitation and delivers tenfold-depicting these ancient beasts in all their wondrous complexity.
A shot of a Sand Tiger Shark showing off his chilling yet magnificent set of choppers is accompanied by the explanation of a behavior dubbed "yawning," where a shark flashes row upon row of razor-sharp dentition. Another photograph shows a diver riding on the back of a Tiger Shark but upon investigating further, Rotman explains that shark handler, Michelle Cove, is exhibiting perhaps the ultimate act of kindness and humanity as she helps a nearly drowned Tiger Shark to revive by gently guiding it in circles (sharks must swim to draw oxygenated water across their gills, and this particular shark was impaired after being hooked by a longline).
Also in the mix are amusing and fantastical photographs of the mutual curiosity that occurs between sea creatures and divers. An experienced shark diver has a face-to-face stare-down contest with a shark (note to self: sharks can't blink). In another, a freediver is given the ultimate ride as he befriends a giant manta that carries him to a depth of 66 feet.
Lost Treasure Ships of the Twentieth Century by Nigel Pickford; National Geographic; deluxe hardcover.
For more information, call (800) 437-5521.
Authored by one of the world's leading experts on shipwreck salvage and research, Lost Treasure Ships of the Twentieth Century explores the story of 17 ships and offers detailed maps showing the locations of more than 170 shipwrecks including the Islander, the Lusitania and the Titanic. Pickford brings out the inherent drama of each shipwreck-from the tragedies of the people on board, to the wealth that the ships once contained, to the politics of shipwreck salvage (ie: ownership of the ship versus ownership of the cargo).
The chronological order of the profiled shipwrecks also brings to the table an interesting perspective of how the technological advances made in salvage diving during the latter part of the 20th century have made it possible to better locate previously lost treasures-arguably fueling the hunt for treasure. At once mystical, factual and historical, National Geographic again offers up a valuable contribution to the spirit of exploration and understanding.