The Fear Beneath

Christian Kemper
Natural Science & Technology

The idea of being dead doesn’t scare us modern people. But the process and way of dying terrifies us. Sharks do not submit to humans – and they do not recognize our alleged superiority. And so, it is hard for us to imagine that we, too, can be part of the food chain (and not at the very top) because we no longer feel as a part of nature. In our over-mapped, overpopulated, over-explored world, it’s not often that an animal gives up such mystery. But we do not need to know everything. Some things are in good hands in the fog of secrets and mystery. I am glad that there are still unresolved questions, because after all they are the ones who stimulate the imagination.
Sharks are beautiful in a scary way and the epitome of all the unknowns that still exist apart from our civilization. In a time when human mastery of our terrestrial realm grants us the illusion that we can control everything from atoms and genes to the destiny of our planet, it is humbling that something as simple as a big fish can put us back in our place. In a 1987 interview with Time magazine, Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson put our situation into irreverent and incisive perspective: “I think it’s wonderful that we live in a world in which there are things that can eat us. It keeps us from getting too cocky.”
Food for thought? My first 2 shark books are only available in German. After many requests from my English-speaking friends, I thought it’s about time to write a book about sharks in English. Thus, this book contains the best of my first two books and the best of my articles.