Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive with the World’s Most Misunderstood Predator

“Managing wildlife frequently means managing people.”

Leon Vlieger at The Inquisitive Biologist: When it comes to protecting animal species, you would think that conservation biologists, environmental advocates, and animal-loving members of the public are all on the same page. However, in Why Sharks Matter, marine biologist David Shiffman shows that this is not always the case. Though there are plenty of books marveling at sharks, this, to my knowledge, is the first one to provide an informed and informative look at shark conservation. Frank, frequently opinionated, and full of refreshingly counterintuitive ideas, Why Sharks Matter is an eye-opener that delivered far more than I expected based on the title.

Before diving in, it is worth mentioning what Shiffman reiterates in a footnote towards the end of the book: “There are arguments for protecting sharks that don’t have their roots in science, and these aren’t wrong, they’re just not what I’m interested in and not what this book is about” (p. 217). He focuses on science-based conservation while ethics and morality are not explicit lodestars. He furthermore focuses on conservation (i.e. keeping populations healthy and preventing extinction) which is not the same as animal welfare (i.e. minimizing suffering and pain). The two aims sometimes coincide, but at other times do not. With the scope of the book thus clarified, Why Sharks Matter breaks down into roughly two parts, both of which relate to the notion that sharks are misunderstood predators.

To start, three chapters deal with the scary reputation and actual ecological importance of sharks…

More here.