In today’s post for National Non-Fiction November 2023, author, Susan Martineau, shares her fascination with sharks and why she was delighted to be asked to write a book all about them!
SHARKS! SHARKS! SHARKS!
“That’s a mermaid’s purse,” said my grandpa when I showed him the funny-looking, dried-up pod that I’d just found tangled in seaweed on the beach. He was a truthful man and went on to explain that it was, in fact, a shark’s egg case. Wow!
I’ve been curious about sharks ever since and it was brilliant to be asked to write about them, including their egg cases! I thought I knew a fair bit about these incredible creatures but, as I researched, I was amazed to discover the extraordinary variety of shark species in the world’s oceans and seas. The hardest part of putting Sharks! Sharks! Sharks! together was deciding which ones to include.
There’s the teeny dwarf lanternshark that could fit in the palm of your hand and angel sharks with superb fins that look like wings. Deep-sea sharks can glow in the dark and the mysterious Greenland shark may be able to live for hundreds of years. No book about sharks could ignore their teeth either! How about the snaggletooth shark that looks as if it needs orthodontics, or the seriously sinister cookiecutter shark?
Sharks also have amazing superpowers. Not only can they smell, hear and see really well, but they have incredible sensors on their noses called ampullae of Lorenzini. These help them detect the electrical signals given off by the creatures they like to hunt and eat. No wonder sharks are top predators and therefore essential to the health of ocean ecosystems.
The big question, though, is do they really want to eat us? Sharks have had a very bad press, but the fact is that they are in much more danger from us than we are from them. They have been on our planet for hundreds of millions of years, long before humans appeared on the scene, but we are now killing millions of sharks every year.
As a young reader, I loved information books that I could dip into and pore over. The illustrations were just as essential to my enjoyment as the text and I’m so grateful to have Vicky’s wonderful artwork complementing the words in Sharks! Sharks! Sharks! Non-fiction can fire the imagination and I really hope my book can inspire a sense of wonder and awe about sharks. Understanding that we need to protect them, and the oceans and seas they live in, is essential for the safe future of these superb creatures. And, next time you are on a beach, don’t forget to look out for “mermaid’s purses”.
Many thanks to Susan and the team at bsmall publishing for taking part in NNFN.
‘Sharks! Sharks! Sharks!’ (ISBN: 978-1913918729) by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker, is published by bsmall.