Juliet Eilperin’s Demon Fish

posted: 04/11/12
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Juliet Eilperin Demon Fish

Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks provides a global look at the often surprising and inexplicable ways people and cultures relate to, and engage with, the ocean's top predator.

"Whether you've never read a book about sharks or have a shelf full of them, this is a book for you." — Washington Post (June 17, 2011)

More Information:

Juliet Eilperin's "Demon Fish" Blog

"Demon Fish" Video


1) The Chinese have eaten shark's fin soup since the 11th century; this delicacy now sells for as much as $100 a bowl, and accounts for the killing of between 26 and 73 million sharks worldwide each year.

2) Papua New Guineans see sharks as their ancestors, and a few men in their communities serve as "shark callers," who can summon the sharks from the ocean by using a coconut rattle and kill them by using a wooden contraption with a noose.

3) Panama's Kena Indians used to worship Tio Tiburon, or "Uncle Shark," though Panamanians now view sharks as a threat.

4) Fijians on Beqa Island respect their ancient shark god, called Dakuwaqa, so much that they insist his name only be written, rather than uttered aloud.

5) Icelanders eat fermented Greenland or basking shark in a dish called hákarl, which has been cured and hung to dry for several months. The dish has a strong ammonia smell, since sharks store ammonia in their bodies rather than in swim bladders.

6) The ancient Aztec figure Cipactli — part shark, part sawfish — played a central role in Aztec cosmology by providing a transition between sea and land.

7) Native Hawaiians believed in supernatural shark helpers who were half-human, half-god, known as 'aum ákua, these spirits had a single human keeper, kahu. They also credited the king — shark god of Hawaii and Maui, Kamohiali'i, with inventing surfing.

8) Japanese eat the heart of the salmon shark as sashimi.

9) Florida's Nova Southeastern University decided in 2005 to replace its traditional mascot, the Knights (as in shining armor), with the Sharks, to underscore its proximity to the sea.

10) Australian Aborigines used other shark and ray products for weapons and ornaments, while native Americans in New England and Florida used sharks for sandpaper, tools and ornaments. These early Americans used shark teeth as a commodity in trading.

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