Temporarily Out of Stock Online
After his most klutzy move ever, falling into a pool of sharks, things for Tristan Hunt begin to look up. Tristan is invited to an ocean-themed summer camp in the Florida Keys where he discovers that he and the other young teens there have very special and rare talents when it comes to the ocean. After the camp receives a distress call from ocean animals, Tristan and his new friends get pulled into a daring rescue in the Bahamas. With the help of sharks, dolphins, a quick-escape artist octopus, and some seabird bombers, the campers must use their young talents in an attempt to outwit an evil shark-finning, reef-blasting billionaire.
About the Author
Dr. Ellen Prager is a marine scientist and author, formerly the chief scientist at the world’s only undersea research station in the Florida Keys. With her ability to make science fun and understandable for people of all ages, she has built a national reputation as a spokesperson on earth and ocean science issues. She has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, CBS, NPR, The Discovery Channel, and more. Dr. Prager has participated in research expeditions to locations such as the Galapagos Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and throughout the Caribbean. She now acts as the science advisor to the Celebrity Cruise ship Xpedition in the Galapagos. She lives in Miami, Florida, where she spends her time writing, consulting, and spending as much time on and in the ocean.
Antonio Javier Caparo is an illustrator, comic artist, and graphic designer. His works have been published in children books, young reader books, and magazines in North America, South America, and Europe.
Read an Excerpt
A sudden unnatural hush fell over the crowd. All eyes were fixed on the pool below. It was their worst of nightmares come to life. After all, evil unblinking eyes, blood, and hundreds of sharp teeth make for a very, very bad dream.
“A boy’s fallen in,” a young mother shouted, covering her daughter’s eyes. “Call 9-1-1! Do something! He’ll be eaten alive!”
The woman’s daughter, who had been calm before, now tore from her mother’s grasp. She ran from the scene screaming, her arms waiving wildly and rushed straight into a mob going in the opposite direction. People were running to the pool, a dark curiosity drawing them like flies to road kill. The commotion even attracted the local seagulls. About fifty flocked to the site. Their loud high-pitched squawking and a barrage of bird poop bombs added to the chaos.
“Tristan! Tristan!” the boy’s father called out. He squeezed his arm through the railing of the raised walkway around the pool. But even with his arm extended all the way through and his face mashed against the metal, he was still far from being able to reach his twelve-year old son.
The boy’s mother stared at the scene with an expression that was oddly calm and strangely, she was silent. Normally she was a nonstop talker, the Niagara Falls of words. She was clearly in shock. Her mind, body, and especially her mouth were paralyzed by what she saw.
“The sharks. They’re coming!” another man yelled, pointing to three large dorsal fins slicing through the water with deadly efficiency. They were headed straight for the boy.
At first, twelve-year old Tristan Hunt did not know what had happened or where he was. One minute he was leaning over the pool’s railing to get a better look at the sharks swimming below. The next thing he knew, he was in the water. When he landed it actually felt pretty good; a refreshing splash in cool water to escape the scorching south Florida heat. Then, just moments later, Tristan realized where he was and that he was not alone in the water. He swam to the surrounding concrete wall; it was slick and smooth. There was no ladder, no steps or anything he could grab onto. That’s when he saw the first fin.
Tall and lanky, Tristan’s limbs seemed to grow faster than the rest of his body could keep up with. He was constantly tripping over the smallest things and often his own feet. The kids at school made fun of him. At home, his older sister teased him relentlessly with names like the gangly green giant or trippin’ Tristan. But this was the king of all trips, the crown jewels of slips, the champion of stumbles. He’d fallen into a pool of sharks.
Tristan had seen enough movies and television to know he could never outswim even one shark. He’d seen at least five before falling in.
Nearby, a couple of pierced, tattooed teenagers watched, rapt by morbid fascination. One leaned over to the other snickering, “He’s a goner for sure.”
A twenty-two-year-old aquarium worker with more enthusiasm than brains ran to the shark pool with a long pole that he extended out into the water. “Boy,” he shouted. “Grab it! Come on. Grab hold!”
Tristan looked at the pole, and more importantly, at the dagger-sharp hook at its end. He thought, Is this guy nuts? I’m not a fish. No way am I grabbing that hook. There’ll be bloodsharks and blood, duhcan you say feeding frenzy?
Something bumped Tristan from behind, shoving him forward. He jerked around and saw the pointy tip of a shark’s tail swish in an s-shape as it swam past. He then saw two more sharks coming his way, their fins slicing silently through the water and toward him. The pole, even with its flesh-tearing hook, was looking a lot more appealing. He reached out to grab it, stretching his arm as far as it could possibly go. Just a few more inches and he’d be rescued, pulled uneaten from the pool.
But before Tristan could grab hold of the pole, a sharp blow to his back again plunged him forward. He turned and saw a shark circling around. Tristan backpedaled as best he could in the water. The shark was coming at him fast. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see its toothy grin up close and personal.
The shark’s snout touched Tristan’s stomach and he thought: I hope I taste really bad, like that disgusting cauliflower casserole mom made the other night. Then the shark did something totally unexpected. Instead of tearing through his flesh, it sort of nuzzled himlike a dog sideling up for a good scratch.
Tristan opened his eyes. There was the shark, curled up next to him. Without thinking, he reached out to feel it. His mother always told him to think before he speaks. He could just hear her saying, Tristan, think before you reach.
But it just seemed like the thing to do. He gave the shark’s skin a little scratch. It responded with a playful swish of its tail, swimming off. Then he looked at his hand, because he still had a hand. He looked at his stomach. There were no teeth marks.
Onlookers at the aquarium’s shark pool were now jumping up and down, covering their eyes. His mother fainted and his father was frantic. “No! Tristan!” he screamed. “Son, grab the pole. Grab it!”
As the next shark came toward him, Tristan ducked underwater to watch it approach. It turned just before reaching him. Its glassy eye stared directly at him, but not in an evil or hungry sort of way. It almost seemed like the shark was trying to tell him something. Without thinking, Tristan kicked slowly in beat with its swishing tail. Soon they were gliding side-by-side. He became lost in the moment, forgetting where he was or the danger he was in.
The crowd above couldn’t grasp what they were seeing. Someone yelled, “It’s chasing him!”
By now a group of the aquarium’s more senior staff had gathered at a ladder that went down into the pool about twenty yards from where Tristan had fallen in. An older man, with a creased, weather-lined face and long, muscular arms, climbed down the ladder. He leaned out over the pool and just as Tristan swam by, grabbed him by the leg.
Startled, Tristan panicked, trying to twist away from whatever had hold of him. He shouted, “Get off me.” But in the churning water it sounded more like he was calling for help, something more like “Geb me.”
The worker quickly pulled the boy in. He then half-carried, half-dragged Tristan up through a small door in the railing that surrounded the shark pool. The crowd clapped and cheered madly. Even the seagulls seemed pleased. They stopped screeching and landed quietly nearby. His parents ran to their wet son. Tristan’s shaggy brown hair was a tangled mess. Water dripped from his straight narrow nose and his good blue polo shirt was ripped in two places. But otherwise it looked like he could have just climbed out of the neighborhood pool. There was no crying, no screaming, and no running for his mommy as the spectators surely expected. In fact, oddly, Tristan was smiling and there was a twinkle of excitement in his exceptionally bright green eyes.
* * *
Tristan and his parents spent what seemed like hours at the Sarasota Aquarium, explaining what had happened. The boy had simply slipped and fallen into the shark pool. How could anyone possibly think otherwise?
After a while, Tristan’s father threw up his hands. “Why are we still talking about this? You’d have to be bonkers to jump into a pool of sharks! And my son is not crazy, definitely clumsy, sometimes smart-mouthedbut not crazy. It was an accident.”
The aquarium director was a thin sixty-something man with short graying hair. His white, button-down shirt and khaki pants were extremely well pressed and heavily starched. Tristan stared at the man, thinking his clothes were so stiff they could have stood up on their own. The man ran his hand through his well-gelled hair, causing sections to stick out at odd angles. He addressed Tristan’s father, “We have an excellent safety record here. Nothing like this has ever happened.”
Looking sternly at Tristan, he continued, “Are you sure young man that you did not jump over the railing to take a little swim?”
“Oh for god’s sake,” Tristan’s father said. “I don’t have time for this. We are leaving.”
By the time they got home, Tristan just wanted to go to his room. But his mother’s silence-inducing shock had clearly worn off. “Tristan, you didn’t jump- right? But, why didn’t you grab the pole? You could have been killed. Those were sharks. How did you fall in? You have got to be more careful. So, why didn’t you grab the pole?”
“Mom, did you see the hook on the end?” Tristan said calmly. “There would have been blood and ya knowsharks and blood.”
“But you would have been pulled out sooner. You didn’t jump in, did you?”
“No mom. I did not jump in.” But even as Tristan was saying it, he wasn’t so sure. He remembered stepping up onto the lower bar of the railing and leaning over to get a better look at the sharks. Strands from his brown mop-like hair had fallen over his eyes, so he’d flicked his head back. And then he was in the water. It had happened very fast. He must have slipped, but the railing was kind of high. No way he would have jumped. Would he?
Tristan’s father shook his head, looking sternly at his son. Tristan could see the disappointment in his eyes, as usual. Just another check on the long list of reasons why he would never be the son his father so badly wantedthe star athlete and A-student.
“Tristan, go take a shower and put on some dry clothes. We’ll talk more about this later,” he quietly told his son.
Tristan headed for his bedroom thinking there was nothing more to talk about. They’d never believe the shark seemed to invite him along for a swim or that just before he got pulled out it looked right at him. Tristan got the feeling the shark was trying to tell him something, something important. Then he shook his head. Naah, it was a shark and I was just lucky.
* * *
Dry and in a pair of black board shorts, Tristan searched through the Mount Everest of clothes on his bedroom floor for his favorite T-shirt. It was the red, ratty one his mother hated. It had small holes along the seams at the shoulders. As he pulled one shirt after another off the floor, he got an odd feeling. Something seemed off in his room. He glanced around, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He checked his laptop. There was nothing creepy or weird on the screen. He looked over at the open doors to his closet and under the bed. No nighttime slashers there or boy-eating one-eyed monsters hiding out. There were a few birds sitting on the tree branch just outside his window, but that wasn’t all that unusual. Although from a distance they did seem much bigger and fatter than the birds he usually saw there, like sparrows on steroids. They almost looked like seagulls. And then he glanced at the small aquarium sitting on the table next to his desk.
The tropical fish were usually swimming back and forth, hiding in the fake seaweed, or nipping at the cheesy replica of a treasure chest on the gravel bottom. Now they were all huddled at the front wall of the tank, peering directly at him. Tristan was so startled he stumbled over his desk chair, which was not so unusual or surprising. On the floor he sat up, flicked back the strands of hair that were continually falling over his eyes, and looked up at the aquarium. The fish were still clustered and still watching him. They were now angled so steeply to see him they were doing floating headstands in the water. He shook his head, thinking he was seeing things. But when he got up and moved toward the tank, the fish moved with him. He shuffled to the right. The fish swam to the right. He took a step left. They swam left. The fish in his aquarium were tracking his every move and looking at him as if they were really looking at him.
“Okay, now I’ve lost it,” he said out loud, wondering if there was such a thing as Post Shark Trauma Syndrome. Or maybe he hit his head and had a concussion. He heard that people get confused with concussions. Maybe they also have hallucinationswacko sea creature hallucinations to be exact.
The fish then swam to the bottom right-hand corner of the aquarium, staring at a pamphlet sitting on the table’s edge. It was a brochure that had come in the morning’s mail about a summer camp in the Florida Keys. Tristan grabbed the brochure, staring at the logo on the front. It was a shark curled beneath a wave.
From the kitchen the smell of dinner wafted into Tristan’s bedroom making his stomach growl. He grabbed the pamphlet and headed for the door; really hoping they were not having fish for dinner. He took one last look at the aquarium. All the fish were now swimming about like normal, completely unaware of him. Maybe I imagined the entire thing . . .
Table of Contents
1 Tristan Falls into the Shark Pool / 1
2 Sea Camp and the Jungle Wall / 11
3 The Giant Slimy Snail Café / 27
4 The Campers Put on a Show / 41
5 A Swim Surprise / 51
6 A Polite Conversation with an Octopus / 69
7 Finned Informants Deliver a Message / 89
8 Tristan Tries to Stay on a Shark’s Good Side / 103
9 Wave Pool Training Cut Short / 115
10 A Fib and a Field Trip / 125
11 Coach Offers to Do Loops and Rolls / 131
12 An Undersea Laser Light Show / 139
13 Tripped up by a Really Big Bird / 155
14 Conference in a Cave / 163
15 Hermit Crabs go on Recon / 171
16 Precision Targeting Brings the Smelly Rain /183
17 The Seasquirts Go Overboard / 193
18 Tristan Nearly Gets Swallowed by Sand / 205
19 The Flying Iguana / 221
20 A Shocking Discovery Revealed / 239
21 The Return to Sea Camp / 247
22 Snaggle-Tooth Smiles / 257
Note From the Author / 275