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Lawrence. R.D.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 187pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-4732-0. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Elinor Kelly

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

R.D. Lawrence is well known as the author of sixteen books on wildlife. He began studying the shark as a little boy in Spain, where he caught his first live specimen and took it home. He has continued ever since to study this much-feared and little-known creature. After forty years, as he tells us in his introduction, "I concluded that a gap existed on the shelves of shark literature; a book was needed that would examine sharks biologically, seek to show their relationship with other marine animals, the relationships that exist between sharks, their differences, natural foods and eating habits, the body signals they make while hunting, mating, and fighting, and all the other facts that have been discovered over the years but which have been recorded in scattered., unconnected writings."

Lawrence has some hair-raising stories to tell of his adventures with nothing to protect him but a stick with a bottle cap nailed to its tip. There is still much to be learned about the 350 species that can only now be accomplished with sophisticated diving equipment and undersea observation craft. He explains the difficulties with statistics collected by the international Shark Attack File. It is his opinion that attacks are caused by invasions of the shark's territory. All sharks are potentially dangerous and it is impossible for a surface swimmer to know when he or she is invading territory.

Lawrence tells a good story, but is always objective and never sensational. The afterword of the book gives the biology of sharks. The chapter headings are small drawings by Gary Low. There is no index. This is a book for readers, not a text book for students doing projects who find it difficult to read entire books. It is recommended for purchase for those libraries with avid readers of nature subjects.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, Ont.
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