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Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks

“Fish are friends, not food,” asserted a group of wannabe vegetarian sharks in the acclaimed Disney Pixar movie, Finding Nemo.  Their new fish-friendly, vego-shark philosophy is certainly portrayed as admirable in the film, but unfortunately most humans do not espouse the same attitude toward sharks themselves.

Unless you’re Juliet Eilperin, who investigated the different ways people and cultures have related to sharks in her brand new book Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks.

In an interview with Daily Show veteran John Hodgeman on the WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show last week, Eilperin discusses how sharks have been downgraded from their ancient status as deities, family protectors, and creators of the art of surfing to their more recent Jaws-esque role as unsympathetic killing machines.  Meanwhile, commercial markets for sharks have skyrocketed as shark-fin soup, a centuries-old Asian delicacy, has grown more popular in recent decades as incomes in the Eastern Hemisphere rise.

Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins, and Eilperin expects that the continuation of large-scale shark hunting could reduce their populations enough to seriously damage the ocean’s food chain.  Plus, she busts a bunch of shark myths and reveals some of her rare shark knowledge, including tried-and-true tips for shark wrestling and shark riding, and how the rest of us can help protect these awe-inspiring creatures from being excessively hunted for their fins.

Listen to a podcast of the radio interview above, or at WNYC’s website here.

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