Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

( 37 )

Overview

A journalist's 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 ...

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The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

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Overview

A journalist's 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
On clear days, you can see the Farallon Islands from the hilltops of San Francisco; yet despite its proximity to civilization, this desolate archipelago, nicknamed "the Devil's Teeth" by 19th-century sailors, is among the wildest, most dangerous places on earth. To gain a firsthand sense of nature at its extremes, outdoors author Susan Casey lived with biologists Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson during a ravenous shark season in the Farallones. Forget Jaws; this is the real thing.
From the Publisher

THE ADVENTURE STORY "GUARANTEED TO SCARE PEOPLE
RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER." --The Associated Press

A Widely Acclaimed Bestseller
• A New York Times bestseller
• A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
• A Book Sense bestseller
• A 2005 NPR Summer Reading selection
• A Men's Journal Top-10 Read
• A Barnes and Noble Discover selection
• A Book Sense selection

Praise from coast to coast for The Devil's Teeth:
"It's Jaws meets Adaptation." --The Wall Street Journal

"Chilling . . . A lively and detailed account." --USA Today

"[A] page-turner . . . The book gives you a way of reaching these mysterious isles without getting wet." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Casey delivers amazing details . . . The Devil's Teeth will surely satisfy your appetite for all things fanged and finned." --National Geographic Adventure

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805080117
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 360,079
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Casey is the development editor of Time Inc. She was previously the editor in chief of Sports Illustrated Women and an editor at large for Time Inc.'s 180 magazine titles. She also served as the creative director of Outside magazine where, with editor Mark Bryant, she led the magazine to three consecutive, history-making National Magazine Awards for General Excellence. At Outside she was part of the editorial team that developed the stories behind Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, Time, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated. She lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

An ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep.

--John Steinbeck, THE LOG FROM THE SEA OF CORTEZ

The killing took place at dawn and as usual it was a decapitation, accomplished by a single vicious swipe. Blood geysered into the air, creating a vivid slick that stood out on the water like the work of a violent abstract painter. Five hundred yards away, outside of a lighthouse on the island's highest peak, a man watched through a telescope. First he noticed the frenzy of gulls, bird gestalt that signaled trouble. And then he saw the blood. Grabbing his radio, he turned and began to run.

His transmission jolted awake the four other people on the island. "We've got an attack off Sugarloaf, big one it looks like. Lotta blood." The house at the bottom of the hill echoed with the sounds of scientist Peter Pyle hurrying, running down the stairs, pulling on his knee-high rubber boots, slamming the old door behind him as he sprinted to the boat launch.

Peter and his colleague Scot Anderson, the voice on the radio, jumped into their seventeen-foot Boston Whaler. The boat rested on a bed of rubber tires beside a cliff; it was attached to a crane which lifted it up and into the air. The crane swung the whaler over the lip and lowered it thirty feet, into the massive early winter swells of the Pacific.

Peter unhooked the winch, an inch-thick cable of steel, as the whaler rose and fell into troughs big enough to swallow it. He started the engine and powered two hundred yards toward the birds, where the object of all the attention floated in a cloud of blood: a quarter-ton elephant seal that was missing its head. The odor was dense and oily, rancid Crisco mixed with seawater.

"Oh yeah," Peter said. "That's the smell of a shark attack."

In a world where very little is known for certain, they knew that below them 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 seventeen feet long, were known as the Sisterhood. Or it might be a "smaller" male (thirteen or fourteen feet), like Spotty 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. Fewer than a dozen will be attacked by a great white shark. In this neighborhood, however, those odds do not count. At the Farallon Islands, during the months of September through November, 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.

The two men stood at the stern holding long poles capped with video cameras. There were several beats of the kind of absolute silence that you hardly ever get in life, eerie moments when time seemed to stop and even the birds became quiet. Then, fifty yards away, the ocean swirled into a boil.

The dorsal fin of myth and nightmare rose from below and came tunneling toward them like a German U-boat, creating a sizable wake. The shark made a tight pass around the boat, pulling up just short of the stern. Its body, which was almost black as it broke the surface, glowed with cobalt and turquoise highlights underwater. "He's coming up!" Peter yelled. The whaler rocked. A massive triangle of a head lifted out of the water and, in a surprisingly delicate way, bit the back corner of the boat. Scot leaned closer and filmed. The shark's black eyes rolled; they could plainly see the scars all over its head and its two-inch-long teeth, backed by rows of spare two-inch-long teeth. Then, as quickly as it had come, the shark slipped beneath the surface, dove under the boat, and reemerged next to the seal. As the great white snatched the carcass, shaking it, bright orange blood burst from the sides of its mouth.

"It's Bitehead!" Scot said. He broke into a full-face smile beneath his wraparound sunglasses.

"Ah, Bitehead," Peter said. There was a moment of pleased recognition, as if greeting a fond acquaintance they had just happened to run into on the street. "We've known this shark for ten years."

Every September, one of the world's largest and densest congregations of great white sharks assembles in the waters surrounding the Farallon Islands, a 211-acre archipelago of ten islets in the Pacific, twenty-seven miles due west of the Golden Gate Bridge. No one fully understands what this gathering represents, why great whites, the ocean's most solitary hunters, choose to reside for a period of time in such close quarters. What's known for sure is that the sharks remain at this location for approximately three months. And this: having studied them for over a decade and a half in the Farallon White Shark Project, Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle have discovered that year after year, the same sharks return to exactly the same spot.

This annual reunion is at least partly about hunting. Despite strange inventories of items found in the bellies of sharks--a cuckoo clock, a fur cape, license plates and lobster traps, a buffalo head, an entire reindeer, and even, in one unlikely scenario, a man dressed in a full suit of armor--what great whites really love to eat are seals. And the Farallones are dripping with seals--northern elephant seals, harbor seals, fur seals, seals, seals, seals--all barking and bellowing, draped on the rocks like a blubbery carpet.

It wasn't always this way. The islands' seals, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, were hunted almost to extinction 150 years ago. Only after Southeast Farallon Island, the largest in the group, became a wildlife refuge in 1969 did the populations begin to recover. And as the seals returned, no one was happier to see them than the sharks. In 1970 Farallon biologists witnessed their first shark attack, on a Steller's sea lion, a brawny animal that itself looks like a predator. During the next fifteen years, more than one hundred attacks on seals and sea lions were observed at close range. But the sharks were only warming up. By the year 2000, Peter and Scot were logging almost eighty attacks in a single season. Still, even accounting for the allure of a seal smorgasbord, why did these particular sharks keep returning? And why were they clustered together so tightly? No one had ever documented such behavior among great whites before.

Not that anyone's had the opportunity. The Farallon Islands are the only place on Earth where it's possible to study great white sharks behaving naturally in the wild. Unsubjected, that is, to the presence and fumblings of humans. In South Africa's "Shark Alley," near the town of Gaansbai, the channel is stained red with chum, and often there are a dozen boats banging up against each other while as many as sixty divers sardined into steel cages clog the thousand-yard-wide passage. In Australia, great white sharks contend with underwater electrical charges, beaches ringed by netting, trophy fishing, and more chumming. The Farallon great whites, on the other hand, are largely unharassed. They might cross paths with the occasional boatload of day-trippers from San Francisco, but they're subjected to none of the behavior-altering coercion that nature's top predators regularly endure so that people can sit in the Winnebago or tundra buggy or safari truck and get a look at them.

This is important because despite their visibility at the Farallones, and despite the impressive truth that sharks are so old they predate trees, great whites have remained among the most mysterious of creatures. Even now, after the human genome has been reduced to an alphabet set and spaceships are trolling around on Mars, scientists are still missing some basic information about the species.

How long do they live? Unknown. (But probably at least thirty years, considering that white sharks don't mature until they're over ten years old, all the sharks at the Farallones are adults, and some individuals have been showing up for more than a decade. There are scientists who speculate that they live as long as sixty years, but that remains unproven.)

Where do they mate, or when, or how often, or even how? There are clues to the sex lives of great white sharks, but no facts. Scot and Peter have discovered that, while the males return annually, the females return only every other year, often with fresh, deep bites around their heads. Are these wounds related to mating? Do the females spend their off years giving birth in warmer waters? For that matter, how many great whites are there in the oceans? All of this is a complete mystery. Even the seasonal population at the Farallones is a wild guess: anywhere from thirty to one hundred.

Then, of course, there's the question of size: Exactly how big can these sharks get? And once again there are no straight answers. Because their skeletons are made of cartilage rather than bone, they've left virtually no fossil record aside from teeth. The largest great white shark to have been caught and precisely measured was nineteen and a half feet long, but there have been credible, if unverifiable, reports of much larger animals. Nothing would be too surprising. Sharks are the heavyweight champions of evolution; they've been fine-tuning their act for ages, hundreds of millions of years before party-crashing humans were even a glimmer in the primordial eye. They're resistant to infections, circulatory disease, and, to a large extent, cancer. They heal rapidly from severe injuries such as lacerated corneas or deep gouges. Everything about the animal is stacked toward survival. From the moment baby whites are born, four-foot-long replicas of their mother, they are already in pursuit of their first meal; from hundreds of yards away they can detect minute millivolt electrical impulses given off by their prey's heartbeat.

Like the great white itself, the Farallon Islands are a nearly perfect freak of nature. Their ecology is a house of cards--an intricate confluence of ocean and seals and birds and sharks, all circling back on each other, everything existing in sublime balance. But in nature, complexity also means fragility. Though the islands are part of the 1,255-square-mile Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, that sanctuary happens to straddle the West Coast's busiest shipping lanes. In 1971, 840,000 gallons of oil oozed into the Gulf of the Farallones, killing more than twenty thousand seabirds. Thirteen years later, in 1984, a tanker exploded and deposited 1.4 million gallons of crude. And right now, hundreds of ships are scattered on the nearby seafloor, poised to begin blurping up oil like toxic lava lamps as the salt water slowly eats away their hulls. Factor in the presence of a sunken ten-thousand-ton aircraft carrier once used for nuclear target practice and forty-eight thousand barrels of radioactive waste, and the picture gets even more precarious.

The islands themselves are fragile, hollow in places, and made of eighty-nine-million-year-old granite, much of which has gone rotten and crumbles to the touch. The word farallon is Spanish for "rocky islet in the ocean" (the plural is farallones, pronounced "fair-alons"), and some, like Middle Farallon, known locally as "the Pimple," are really more like protruding rocks than actual islands. All ten are part of the ragged edge of the continental shelf as it juts out of the Pacific before plunging two miles--the depth of the Grand Canyon--into darkness. Technically, the Farallones are just an exotic suburb of San Francisco, as they lie within the city limits. But few of the Bay Area's seven million residents are aware of their existence. And even supposing someone knew that the Farallones were out there, he surely wouldn't have any idea of the violent, desperate history of the place: the accidents, the murders, the forgotten town, the homegrown war. Each year there are fewer and fewer people alive who remember the stories. On satellite photos of the Bay Area, the Farallones are usually cropped out of the frame.

This obscurity is understandable. The boat ride from the mainland is a riot of turbulence and nausea that can last more than six hours--and that's on a day when a captain is willing to attempt the voyage. Even coast guard crews balk at the crossing, admitting that they try to take a helicopter when possible. No one lives year-round at the Farallones. Peter, Scot, and a revolving handful of colleagues bunk in the only habitable building, a 120-year-old, no-nonsense house on Southeast Farallon that looks like it could stand up to anything. And it has: The place gets regular lashings of the meanest weather the Pacific can dish out. Thirty-knot winds, blanketing fog, and fifteen-foot seas are standard.

Even if a visitor is hearty enough or curious enough to make the trip to the Farallones, upon arrival he cannot set foot aground--it is a tightly supervised National Wildlife Refuge, within a National Marine Sanctuary, and the only people allowed there by federal law are the biologists who monitor the wildlife. In any case, there's nowhere to land a boat. The islands are perimetered by sheer cliffs and treacherous hidden rocks that create abrupt surf breaks. A quarter million seabirds spend the year painting these rocks, and the stench of ammonia will knock a person back on his heels. Noisemaking is prohibited, planes may not fly directly overhead, and all boats are required to remain at least three hundred feet offshore. And you sure as hell don't want to go in for a dip. When all the impediments are taken into account, there is really only one reason to visit the Farallon Islands: because it is the spookiest, wildest place on Earth.

I became haunted by the Farallones in 1998, when I happened to see a BBC documentary about Scot and Peter's work. Television tends to make even magnificent things seem puny, but this program managed to convey how enormous the sharks were, how toylike the men's research boat was by comparison, the extraterrestrial nature of the place. When the show came on I was lying on my living room floor, bleary with mononucleosis, and I wondered if I might be hallucinating.

On-screen, the islands jutted from the Pacific like the fangs of a sea monster badly in need of dental work. The water was a fathomless black; fog crept through savage rock archways. But the islands' most surreal feature lay beneath the surface. When the blond man identified as "Scot Anderson, biologist" leaned over the edge of their eleven-foot boat and lowered an underwater video camera, it was only seconds before a great white shark appeared in the frame. And then another, and then another. There was no chum in the water, no bait. The sharks were just there, swimming around, stacked like planes over O'Hare. Is this some kind of hoax? I wondered. A camera montage? This cannot be real. How on earth could great white sharks the size of cube vans be hanging out in a pack within the San Francisco delivery radius for a pizza? And who were the two crazies sitting in the middle of it all in a rowboat?

Great white sharks elicit a kind of universal awe--and not just because of their ability to snack on us. Grizzly bears can devour people with equal proficiency, and while they certainly command a healthy respect, it's nothing like our primal response to seeing that black flag shearing the water. Ask the Discovery Channel; its annual Shark Week is a ratings bonanza that has drawn as much as a 100 percent increase in viewers, and the network invariably schedules it during the sweeps.

Even to the most dedicated control freak, white sharks represent the terrible, powerful unknown. They live in a different element than we do, they're not cute, they're not at all cuddly, and on some level they seem like the closest thing we've got to living dinosaurs. Their otherness is what both compels us and scares the pants off us. That, and their several sets of teeth. It's a complicated relationship. The biologist Edward O. Wilson summed it up beautifully when he wrote, "In a deeply tribal way, we love our monsters."

Most prefer to love the monster from a distance, or perhaps only in photographs, rather than marching right up to pet its fur or examine its claws (or stroke its fin, as Scot did on the BBC program when a shark passed alongside him). Survival usually trumps curiosity and that's good because those are the people we can count on to stick around and continue the race, passing their sage judgment down to their children. Then there are the others. Like me.

As far back as I can remember, I've had the feeling that the most exciting things in life were locked away somewhere, like Fabergé eggs or hundred-year-old Scotch. And that the only way to get to them was by relentless searching. You weren't going to stumble across a lost civilization on your way to catch the commuter bus, for instance, or find a goblin shark lying in the seafood section of Safeway. Seeing the moon on TV, visiting the wildest creatures in cages, nose-pressing museum cases to admire a souvenir of history--all this added up to an unacceptable trade-off. And yet pretty much everyone I knew had already made it.

And in truth I had too. But at the age of thirty-four, ten years into a successful career in the magazine world, there was still more restlessness and curiosity in me than I knew how to handle, and I wouldn't say that I ever felt content. Bodies of water caused the most distraction. They drew me in deep, like a hypnotist's coin, and I could never look at one without wondering what was under its skin. The green-black Canadian lakes where I spent my summers, the gin-clear Caribbean, the fathomless Pacific, the shallow, antiseptic glint of a swimming pool: I wanted them all the same.

My fascination with water led to an athletic career as a swimmer that has lasted for twenty-five years. For up to six hours a day I stared at the bottom of every possible kind of pool, did millions of laps and countless flipturns, and I still couldn't get enough water. The only thing more satisfying than being in the pool was swimming in a lake or a river or the ocean, where I might possibly see fish. Even the lowliest trash fish, a crappie or a perch or a rock bass, worked a kind of spell on me, an irrational mix of captivation and terror. While other people were looking up into space, wondering about black holes and distant galaxies, I was staring down into some expanse of water, hoping for a glimpse of fin.

Oceans cover 71 percent of the earth, and it's estimated that no one has ever laid eyes on 95 percent of the life-forms that live there; only a piddling fraction of this aquatic real estate has been explored. Breakthroughs in deep exploration have made it possible to venture farther into the abyss, and in recent years jaw-dropping images of formerly unknown creatures have come back from below--beings that stretch the imagination such as the fangtooth fish and the vampire squid and the gulper eel. Scientists have only just discovered hot vents on the ocean floors--boiling, mineral-saturated water that spews up from the Earth's crust into the sea through chimneylike formations. (These chimneys might be the very source of life, that's all.) Through the use of new technologies like sidescan sonar, astonishing treasures have been found: Six hundred shipwrecks, some from prebiblical times, are lying in one small swath of ocean off Portugal. At least three sunken Egyptian cities thought to be more than two thousand years old have recently been discovered kicking around on the bottom near Alexandria's harbor. When underwater archaeologists began to explore them, they happened upon Napoleon's sunken fleet.

In other words, even in places where the topside is familiar, there are whole new universes and ancient buried worlds swirling around down there, like rooms you didn't know about in your house. I found this thrillingly spooky. For years, I'd had a recurring dream--actually, it hovered on the edge of nightmare territory--in which I floated at night, surrounded by large, unearthly fish. I could never see them clearly, but I knew the water was alive with them, all these hidden creatures, sweeping and circling. When I saw the Farallones on the screen that first time, the memory of these phantoms vaulted out of semiretirement and into my consciousness. This was some weird water. What was going on beneath the surface?

Finding out more proved difficult. the BBC piece about the Farallon sharks was the only one that existed. What articles I could turn up tended to be wonky treatises on seal populations and seabird migration, or terse newspaper stories that raised more questions than they answered. The Los Angeles Times called the Farallones "the most forbidding piece of real estate in America, if not the world," but didn't elaborate. A New York Times headline from 1858 reported that a fisherman had been "seized by an octopus" at the islands, yet provided no details.

I came across random facts that intrigued: A female skeleton had been found in a sea cave, and to this day her identity remains a mystery . . . a century ago on Southeast Farallon Island there was a town that even had its own school . . . a new kind of jellyfish had been discovered there; it had arms instead of tentacles. And the sharks, always the sharks. Commercial divers refused to work anywhere near the place. Government divers were not permitted to enter the surrounding waters for insurance reasons. Great white sharks had even foiled a world-record attempt to water-ski from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallones. "That was the stupidest thing I ever did," admitted the skier, who spent hours plowing through bone-jarring fifteen-foot swells, only to have his boat spring a leak when he neared the islands. Swimming beneath the hull to check for damage, he suddenly realized he was not alone: "All I could see was a swarm of sharks." The man leaped back into the boat, whereupon he and his crew hightailed it back to San Francisco, bailing as fast as they could.

Being at the Farallones, it seemed, was like hanging around Mount Olympus as the gods glided by for another round at the buffet. And in this foreboding spot, humans were neither wanted nor needed. The usual rules of civilization did not apply. Here was a place where nothing was fake and nothing was for sale, where cars and credit cards, cell phones and expensive high-heeled shoes got you nowhere, where animals thrived while people died in any number of unlikely ways. This lost outpost, it seemed to me, was more than an unexpected scrap of America, more than a window into an interesting marine world. It was a glimpse into another realm.

As I watched the two men on TV, surrounded by sharks in their little boat, I realized that somewhere between San Francisco and the Farallon Islands, there was a border crossing. On one side of the divide was the world of blacktop and happy hour, and on the other was an uninhabitable place where four-hundred-million-year-old predators still roamed. I wanted to cross that line while it still existed, before civilization reached out and blurred it, then tamed it, then erased it completely. But how? The place was off limits, forbidden in every way. And aside from that, I had no idea how I would get there. But the Farallones had stirred something in the deepest folds of my imagination, and I knew that one way or another I was going. I had to. How often do you have the chance to step inside your own dream?

Copyright © 2005 by Susan Casey

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    The ocean and sharks have creeped me out ever since I saw the movie 'Jaws'. I like to read about them and enjoy shark week on TV but I can't imagine doing what Susan Casey did at the Farallon Islands. I would have high-tailed it out of there before I landed on shore! This book was amazing. I thought it would be more like a boring, scientific account of watching sharks but she made this book read like a novel. After reading this book I felt like I knew these biologists and could understand why they spent months on this isolated island every year waiting for shark attacks. The writing was great and I devoured this book in a few hours.I loved the history of the island as well. I would not pass up this book. It was awesome!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful!

    From the minute I saw this book on the shelf, I couldn't let it down. I great book for shark lovers and everyone else! Its very informative and will open your eyes about the world of great white sharks.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    Devils teeth and 10pts for my project ms pitts

    The Devils Teeth is a documentary book about Susan Casey's accounts with Peter Pyle and Scott Anderson on their study of Great Whites at the Farallon Islands located 24 miles from San Francisco. When Susan was watching BBC and finds a segment on Great Whites in their natural environment at the Islands, she quickly packs her things and goes to the island. When Susan arrives she is welcomed by the stench of guano and screeching of the tens-of-thousands of gulls flying around and unpredictable weather. While on the water filming the sharks on a 10ft jetty Peter and Scott are dwarfed by the gigantic sharks and in awe by their natural strength and agility. Back on the island Susan is told of the Islands dark history and the constant fight for survival among the inhabitants. Although waters are scattered with sharks, there is a urchin diver named Ron that Susan meets and listens to all of his near death experiences all for some urchins. Peter and Scott have been studying these sharks for decades and even named some of them, a "happy-go-lucky" Half Fin who measures up to over 15ft long. When it came for Susan to leave, she left more curious then before she arrived. When Susan gets back at the office she has the urge to come back and learn more about the islands and of these mysterious creatures that call it home. On her second time back to the island she has a lot more appreciation for it and takes in all of the natural world around her and she has a lot more encounters with the sharks and the ghost that haunt the research base (a 200 year old scary house) . Peter and Scotts research is important even if you think it isn't. These creatures were constantly being hunted down and killed but now they have shown the world that there is more to these creatures then just attacking people and boats. Their research has brought a lot of much needed awareness of the sharks and how dangerous they really are. I really enjoyed this book and if you like adventure and nature then you should get this book and read it until you're satisfied with it. And it's also a little ironic that these researchers who know that these sharks are out there and what they are capable of and yet they still like to surf the waters that the sharks patrol. Peter also states that "he wants to ride the perfect wave" at the islands which everyone knows that it is an extremely dangerous idea. This is just a little preview of the book and to fully understand and appreciate it you need to get the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    What a great book!

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. I did not know much about the Farallon Islands, so this book was extremely informational. Although it is nonfiction, I read it quickly because it was so fascinating. This is a definite must read if you live in the bay area!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    Frustrated...

    I really enjoyed this book up until the end. I was so furiuos with the writer's selfishness, I wanted to write her a letter. It ended up costing people their jobs, and unfortunately, not her! The guy who lost his job because of her should get the royalties from this book, not the writer.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2006

    It's better than 'Shark Week!'

    I was glad the moment I bought this book. Susan Casey is an excellent writer and really gives me more and more passion for my chosen field. The greatest part was the history behind the farralon islands. I can't imagine how much research she must've had to do to get this much information on such an obscure local.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2014

    I couldn¿t agree more with John Steinbeck¿s words - ¿An Ocean wi

    I couldn’t agree more with John Steinbeck’s words - “An Ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless
    sleep.”Not many of us have had the opportunity to smell a shark attack - and yes it does have it own odor just like the smell of death
    has its own odor.To be honestly frank with you - non-fiction books are my favorite to read. I really liked the realistic and descriptive way the author pulls us into her world - what she saw - what she experienced.
    Susan Casey gives us a worldliness into a real aquatic world that humans are still trying to learn about: T
    he alphas of the waters of the world. It is a world that cannot be tamed - but can be destroyed by humans.I don’t know it for a fact - I believe it is just human nature for us to be restless and curious - and I think those are good traits.
    Columbus was restless and curious too. I love the photos in this book ... it takes you on an adventure without getting out of your easy chair or leaving your private space.“The Devil’s Teeth” can open up a new world for readers. There are new universes and ancient buried worlds swirling around.
    I hope you become a de facto intern and take a boat ride into this engaging adventure that is well worth your time.Jeannie Walker (Award-Winning Author) 

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    This was a beautifully written story, from start to finish. You

    This was a beautifully written story, from start to finish. You meet people, and get to know them, that would otherwise be 'off the grid.' And the there are the sharks. A wonderful read for a person with an obsession, slight or otherwise, for these animals. I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    This book is about the history and sharks of the Farallon Island

    This book is about the history and sharks of the Farallon Islands which are located off of San Francisco, and is written in a gonzo journalist style about Susan Casey’s time spent on the islands. She vividly describes the sharks in a way that shows their beauty and power. She also goes into great depths about the history of the islands and the research that was going on there. Casey mainly writes about the two biologists who lived and worked at the Farallons and studied the great whites. What I got from this book was a deep admiration for people who were willing to deal with these harsh living conditions to learn more about the animals they love. I enjoyed this book because it made me feel like I was on the island with them, and that I was getting up close and personal with the sharks. Susan Casey brings us along in this rare glimpse of the Farallons, an island that people seldom get to visit. After reading this book you will have a new insight into great white’s lives; it is a great story for anyone that loves science and sharks. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    .

    .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    Don't bother reading this book, it was an absolute waste of time

    Don't bother reading this book, it was an absolute waste of time. Casey's writing style is similar to that of a 4th grader and her scattered way of describing incidents left me frustrated and wishing a better author had the experience she did on the Farallones. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Great read about the white sharks of the Farallon Islands and th

    Great read about the white sharks of the Farallon Islands and the behaviorists who study them. Casey is an excellent writer and specifically took this project to challenge herself as she was new to science writing and life on the water. Those familiar with white sharks, marine biology/animals behavior, sailing and nautical science will sometimes feel impatient with her decisions or ignorance, but that is because the maritime world is new to her. It is still an enjoyable read!

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  • Posted September 20, 2012

    worth the read

    Interesting the first 90%, and of book became weak too much empathy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Interesting but not something I'd buy at full price

    This book was adequate but not compelling or particularly well written. I learned some new scientific facts about great white sharks and I appreciated that. However, I'd describe this book as more of a diary of the daily drudgery of scientific research. The account lacked the highs, lows, strengths, and weaknesses of interpersonal relationships. The conclusion lacked the sense that all of the sacrifices were worth the gain of a treasure trove of scientific knowledge. I was left feeling as though the writer wrote this book to assuage her conscience. I wanted more and this book failed to deliver for me.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    Interesting

    I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Casey's 2011 book The Wave. Devil's Teeth, an earlier book, is not as interesting but I learned much about coastal California and the Farillon Islands. I hesitated a long time before buying this book because I'm not very interested in the Great White shark. Ultimately, I purchased the book because I enjoy Susan Casey's writing style. This author writes very well and doesn't disappoint.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    love hate relationship

    Hi, this book made me stop reading and shouting every now and then. The content is really interesting, maybe a bit more scientific input on the Great Whites would have been great, as it now has more autobiographic notions: about a woman who gets so interested in sharks that she doesn't hesitate to nearly ruin other people's properties, lives and a complete research project. Again: the book is a great read, but until now i am not so sure what to make of the authors motivation and her ability to take responsibility for her actions. Maybe I am a bit overly sensitive here, but since i also read The Wave (also a good read) where she uses the same way of squeezing herself into other people's lifes ... uhm, oh well.
    At least, this is my take on it! Maybe I am wrong, in which case I will humbly apologize.
    4 Stars for the great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    unbelievable! but not in a good way

    I read this book and though it was very interesting but as some others have said the author is selfish. Great writer but ethics are not great. The funds from this book should go to the research station that she destroyed while writing this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2007

    Great book especially for the shark fanatic!

    This book was wonderfully written and full of amazing facts. The ending is a little anti-climactic, but sometimes life really is that way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    Extremely Informative!

    This book is one of the best I have ever read. Casey's portrayl of this amazing creatures is spot on, unlike so many stories written about the Great White Shark. In her book she shows how important these sharks are to the delicate balance of the marine environmnet. Her writing is so descriptive you can feel the spray of the waves pounding the rocks and hear the cries of the literally thousands of birds that call the Farallon Islands home. This is an extremely enjoyable book for all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    Not Just for Shark Lovers

    This book was amazing to me because I love to read about sharks. But Susan Casey had a very easy-to-read, almost comical way about her writing. She reads like someone would be speaking, and that can be very helpful when you're reading about science. Great book, very enjoyable... but don't read it if you're afraid of sharks in the slightest.

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