obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home
to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators -- and the
strange band of surfer-scientists who follow them.
Susan Casey was in her living room when she first saw the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands, their dark fins swirling around a small motorboat in a documentary. These sharks were the alphas among alphas, some longer than twenty feet, and there were too many to count; even more incredible, this congregation was taking place just twenty-seven miles off the coast of San Francisco.
In a matter of months, Casey was being hoisted out of the early-winter swells on a crane, up a cliff face to the barren surface of Southeast Farallon Island -- dubbed by sailors in the 1850s the "devil's teeth." There she joined Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the island's one habitable building, a haunted, 135-year-old house spackled with lichen and gull guano. Two days later, she got her first glimpse of the famous, terrifying jaws up close and she was instantly hooked; her fascination soon yielded to obsession -- and an invitation to return for a full season. But as Casey readied herself for the eight-week stint, she had no way of preparing for what she would find among the dangerous, forgotten islands that have banished every campaign for civilization in the past two hundred years.
The Devil's Teeth is a vivid dispatch from an otherworldly outpost, a story of crossing the boundary between society and an untamed place where humans are neither wanted nor needed.
Peter's weather prediction held. As the light came up and I stepped
outside I saw that the fog had dissolved, the ocean was unveiled,
and the jagged contours of another Farallon, Saddle Rock, were
crisply in focus for the first time since my arrival. Saddle Rock
reared out of the water only two hundred yards southeast of the main
island, and from certain angles it looked exactly like a dorsal fin.
Cormorants bunched along its edges, forming an elegant black picket
fence. It marked the divide between Mirounga Bay (where the Rat Pack
hunted) and Shubrick Point (where the Sisterhood reigned). Many an
elephant seal head had been lost in its shadow.
Scot and Peter and I drank our coffee on the front steps, looking out at the water glimmering in the early light. There was a feathery wind and a handful of ...
It's difficult to decide who is the most compelling contender for the role of "star" in Casey's book. Is it the sharks, the islands, or the surfer-scientists who choose to live their lives studying the sharks in this extraordinary place? Or perhaps it's the one remaining sea-urchin diver who still works the area, elbowing sharks out of the way as he goes about his business!
All in all, a gripping read (pun intended!) and highly recommended!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (244 words).
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