In the depths of a deep Melbourne winter, a book was released. Great White Shark (GWS), beautifully illustrated by debut illustrator but painter extraordinaire, Cindy Lane, and published by Walker Books Australia, is part of the Nature Storybook series. GWS is the story of an individual shark as she journeys the ocean.
Great whites terrify many people, and the 70s film Jaws has a lot to do with that. The reality is that sharks are at much higher risk of death from humans than the other way round. Yes, they are big and have perhaps more teeth than seems necessary (although of course they are necessary) but the chances of encountering one in the wild is very low and getting lower. They are fascinating creatures, from their ability to navigate accurately across oceans, to the way they use only 10 % of their muscle mass in cruising. Hopefully, books like this one will help people to see the wonder and understand the importance of sharks.
I have folders – both virtual and physical – full of fascinating GWS information that would not fit into this book. But that research is far from wasted. It peppers every presentation (my family might say ‘every conversation’) I share with young people. ‘Did you know … ‘ is a frequent sentence opening!
It’s not ideal to release a new book into lockdown, but books are not just for a minute, and sharks have been in our oceans for millions of years, so there will be time, hopefully not too far away, when I can shark talk.
For now, I’m very grateful for the support of the interweb, teachers, librarians and booksellers in sharing GWS. I work at The Younger Sun in Yarraville and I’m particularly grateful for their support. It was so lovely to see GWS in the window, swimming with some other sharks.