April's Pick 2007

The Devil’s Teeth

Image representing cover of The Devil’s Teeth The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks
by Susan Casey

On clear days the Farallon Islands are visible 28 miles offshore,but few San Franciscans have had the opportunity to see them up close.


These craggy and mysterious islands have closely limited access because of their status as a federally protected marine sanctuary.

Intrigued by a BBC documentary about great white sharks at the Farallones, sportswriter Susan Casey received permission to join the field biologists conducting cutting-edge research there. She discovered significant myth-shattering observations made over a 15-year period by Peter Pyle, Scot Anderson and other Farallon White Shark Project researchers. For instance, male sharks visit the Farallones annually, while the much larger females show up only every other year. The sharks hunt by day, not by night and rely on vision more than previously believed. The biologists’ observation modus operandi involved rushing out in small boats to observe the sharks eating freshly-killed seals and sea lions. Many of the great whites became recognized as individuals and were given names.

The Devil’s Teeth explores not only the natural history of the islands but the human history as well. In the Gold Rush era, when laying hens had not kept pace with San Francisco’s booming population, egg-gatherers clambered onto the rocky shores of the islands to raid murre nests. Occupational perils included drowning and crashing against the rocks and even shootouts with competitors in the lucrative trade. The islands were inhabited by lighthouse keepers, used as defense outposts in various wars, and are now surrounded by scuttled ships and enormous quantities of cannistered toxic waste.

For On the Same Page, the Library has purchased the paperback edition of The Devil’s Teeth, published by Owl Books. It is also available at the Library in large print format and as an unabridged talking book in CD and audiocassette formats.


Photo of Susan Casey
Photo of Susan Casey
Photo credit: Jonathan Skow
About the Author

Susan Casey is the development editor of Time Inc. She was previously the editor in chief of Sports Illustrated Women and an editor at large for Time Inc.'s 180 magazine titles. She also served as the creative director of Outside magazine where, with editor Mark Bryant, she led the magazine to three consecutive, history-making National Magazine Awards for General Excellence. At Outside she was part of the editorial team that developed the stories behind Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, Time, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated. A native of Toronto, she lives in New York City.


Related Program


Susan Casey, author of this month’s On the Same Page selection, The Devil’s Teeth, will read and discuss her book at 6:30 p.m. on April 24 in the Koret Auditorium at the Main Library. A book sale and discussion follows her presentation.

Of Related Interest

Author Interview with Susan Casey

Campagno, Leonard, March Dandro and Sarah Fowler. Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Capuzzo, Mike. Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence. Broadway Books, 2001.

Matthiessen, Peter. Blue Meridian: the Search for the Great White Shark. Random House, 1971.

Shark Attack! A Nova Production by Survival Anglia for WGBH. WGBH Boston Video, 1996. (DVD format)

White, Peter. The Farallon Islands: Sentinels of the Golden Gate. Scottwall Associates, 1995.

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