From the Publisher
"I read Susan Casey's book in a feeding frenzy, satisfying my curiosity while fueling my fascination with sharks. A thoroughly researched and well-written piece of literature that raises hairs as well as tickling funny bones, THE DEVIL'S TEETH artfully reveals what lurks in the shadows of the mysterious great white and the people obsessed with them. The true triumph of the book, though, is in Casey's transcendence of mere journalism—she's clearly embraced by the world of which she writes." —Linda Greenlaw, Author of THE HUNGRY OCEAN and ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS
“A marvelous book—part adventure, part meditation, part natural history that takes the reader on a wild ride into a strange and seductive world. Casey is the perfect diving companion; her account of life among San Francisco's shark population is engaging, smart, and irresistible." —Susan Orlean, author of My Kind of Place and The Orchid Thief
“In delivering us to the Farallon Islands, and then into the souls of the magnificent Great White Sharks that populate its waters, Susan Casey has really delivered us into the DNA of our own beings. The Devil's Teeth is more than a shark story; it is an account of our instincts, our appetites, even our futures, all beautifully told by a writer compelled to know.”—Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers
"'There's another world, and it's in this one,'" declares Susan Casey, reveling in the surreality of her days and nights spent among the world's coolest, cold-eyed customers, great white sharks. Who knew these beasts lived so close to San Francisco, within the pizza delivery zone of that fair city? Casey is a poet, a bare-knuckled spirit, unabashed and funny, and hers is an entrancing ride to a beautiful, forbidding place, a new world, close by. Hang on." —Doug Stanton, author of In Harm's Way
"Susan Casey could write about guppies, and I'd want to read her book. I devoured this book like a shark." —Mary Roach, author of Stiff
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The sight of a great white shark attacking a 300-pound elephant seal is bloody, violent, and compelling. But reading about it is downright frightening. In The Devil's Teeth, Casey, a spunky, diminutive blonde who refers to herself as the least likely candidate to hang out in the "spookiest place in the world," stands in a toylike boat while the enormous creatures orbit below.
"Biologist Edward O. Wilson summed it up beautifully when he wrote, 'In a deeply tribal way, we love our monsters.' " And love them, Casey does. Leaving the blacktop, high heels and happy hours of city life behind, she embarks on a bumpy boat ride to this exotic suburb of San Francisco. Just 27 miles due west of the Golden Gate Bridge, jutting from the Pacific like the fangs of a sea monster, lie the Farallon Islands. A craggy, wild archipelago, these are little more than a series of guano-covered granite protrusions, barren, continually battered by storms, and blanketed by fog. The Los Angeles Times described them as "the most forbidding piece of real estate in America, if not the world." It is here that Casey has come to find out more about the elusive great white sharks, her eyes trained on them as on a hypnotist's coin.
Every fall, the Farallones witness the regular spilling of blood. For in this eerie wildlife refuge, nature plays hardball every day. Home to one of the largest colonies of nesting seabirds in the Pacific, the Farallones also host thousands of marine mammals, a few mad scientists, and the largest great white sharks in the world. Sharks with names like "Stumpy," "the queen annihilator of surfboard," "Cuttail" and "Spotty," these hunters return year after year to patrol their favorite haunts and lunch on their favorite meal -- seal. Swimming just under the water's surface, the sharks are "stacked like planes at O'Hare." As big as minivans, these predators aren't cute. But as Casey reports, observing them with a mixture of captivation and terror, they're truly irresistible. And the result of her efforts is a passionately written book of adventure, natural history, and self-discovery.
(Fall 2005 Selection)
Louise Jarvis Flynn
Susan Casey's lively portrait of life among Northern California's white sharks and the dogged researchers who study them indulges in just the right mix of anxiety, gore and reassuring shark science. One can find reason to fear the waves and then muster the courage to enter them, usually within the same chapter...The sharks are the stars of Casey's story, but the Farallones steal the show.
The New York Times Book Review
[A] page-turner. . . Gives you a way of reaching these mysterious isles without getting wet. Or seasick.
San Francisco Chronicle
An evocative and entertaining account of the cutting edge of marine biology.
National Geographic Adventure
Will surely satisfy your appetite for all things fanged and finned.
Handles close encounters with visceral intensity, then handily details the scientific achievements of the project...She captures the spooky feel of the Farallones-its sheer cliffs, massive bird and seal populations, fogs and green flashes and Specters of the Brocken -- as well as its dramatic weather.
[A] chilling account of a stint on and around that bloody buffet, the Farallones.
East Bay Express
From its startling opening description of scientists racing to the bloody scene where a shark has decapitated a seal, this memoir-cum-natural and cultural history of the Farallon Islands-"the spookiest, wildest place on Earth"-plunges readers into the thrills of shark watching. Casey, a sportswriter with recurring dreams about deep-sea creatures, "became haunted" by the 211-acre archipelago 27 miles west of San Francisco when she saw a BBC documentary about Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, biologists who study the great white sharks there. The islands are the only place on Earth where scientists can study the animals in their natural habitat. These evolutionary ancients (sharks lived 200 million years before dinosaurs) can be as large as Mack trucks, eat suits of armor, are both fierce and friendly, and, according to Casey, are an addictive fascination for those lucky enough to encounter them. Casey's three-week solo stay on a yacht anchored in shark waters is itself an adventure, with the author evacuating just hours before the yacht disappeared in a storm. Her suspenseful narrative perfectly matches the drama and mystery of these islands, their resident sharks and the scientists who love them. Photos. Agent, Sloan Harris. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Casey, a Time, Inc., developmental editor, takes us to the Farollon Islands (dubbed "devil's teeth"), 27 miles from San Francisco, a major watering hole for great white sharks and, consequently, a few dedicated "surfer-scientists." With a national tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
From The Devils's Teeth:
In a world where very little is known for certain, we knew that below us a great white shark was orbiting, waiting for the seal to bleed some more, and that this shark would soon be returning for breakfast. It might be Betty or Mama or The Cadillac, one of the huge females that patrolled the east side of the island. These big girls, all of them over 18 feet long, were known as The Sisterhood. Or it might be a "smaller" male (say, 14 or 15 feet) like Two Spot or T-Nose or the sneaky Cal Ripfin. These sharks were called The Rat Pack. It might be any number of great whites. At this time of the year there were scores of them cruising this 120-acre patch of sea, swimming close to the shoreline of Southeast Farallon Island as hapless seals washed out of finger gulleys at high tide and into the danger zone.
In any given year more than a thousand people will be maimed by toilet bowl cleaning products or killed by cattle. Less than a dozen will be attacked by a great white shark. In this neighborhood, however, those odds do not count. At the Farallon Islands in autumn, your chance of meeting a great white face-to-face is better than even money, should you be crazy enough or unlucky enough to end up in the water.