A first glance at the title “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks” would probably invoke visions of bloody feeding frenzies, mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, and the sleek arrow-shaped bodies of deadly sharks. With, of course, the appropriate Jaws theme rolling around in our heads. And we couldn’t be more wrong with that impression.
Juliet Eilperin, a national environmental reporter for The Washington Post, has the spotlight this evening at the National Geographic Museum. And what she’ll be sharing with tonight’s audience will be somewhat removed from that first glimpse of her book. Despite its fearsome title, her work is more of a revelation of this sleek, deadly species that cruise the ocean’s depths (and shallows). Let’s face it: sharks have held a solid spot of fascination in our collective conscious, often as one of fear or as an image of ‘terrible beauty.’ Eilperin shines another light on sharks, however – conservation. Demon Fish strives to expose the intricacies and personalities of the shark-human relationship and reveals it’s not all about blood, teeth, and gore.
The idea bloomed after Eilperin began looking for something to write about. The oceans have had a long pull on Eilperin; they’re a subject she can fill conversations about, and for good reason. “It’s still unknown territory to humans, to a large extent, so that’s what intrigues me,” she confided. “So much of our world has been explored and documented, but when it comes to the sea, we’re still in a period of intense discovery. Also, it’s just so different from the environment in which we operate on a daily basis.” Casting about for the right angle, a colleague suggested the shark and it intrigued her enough to explore further. Continue reading