Review

Savage Shore: Life and Death With Nicaragua's Last Shark Hunters

by Edward Marriott

"The
Atlantic coast and, sixty miles to the south, the mouth of the San
Juan River marked the beginning of all these journeys: here, in
these unquiet, shifting waters, bred the bull shark, Carcharhinus
leucas, the most willful and aggressive of all tropical sharks.
Like no other shark, it possessed the ability to cross from salt
water to freshwater, hunting far upriver to the lake beyond,
cruising the coast, the bar mouth, and the San Juan's brackish
lower stretches. The coastal and the river people hunted the shark
for its fins and for its oil, feared it and revered it; every
village had had family taken in its jaws. It was shark where shark
should not be --- in fresh water, on human territory."
Edward Marriott attempts to plumb the minds of bull shark
hunters, hoping also to experience the hardship and danger of a
shark hunt in the freshwater of Nicaragua's jungle coast "with its
mangrove swamps and alligators, hurricanes and stiff westers that
washed up bales of high-grade cocaine, shrink-wrapped for export."
The result is SAVAGE SHORE, an unusual travelogue and an eloquent
indictment of relentless imperialism, conspicuous overconsumption,
racial and economic prejudice, and even drug use, and their
combined effect on the impoverished people of the small country of
Nicaragua.
Although Marriott does brave the open waters to hunt sharks, it
becomes increasingly obvious that he is in more danger from the
human element. Marriott spends much of his time in Bluefields on
the Atlantic coast and at the mouth of the San Juan River that
leads to Lake Nicaragua. Bluefields can be likened to a rough
mining town, and Marriott encounters "a bastard brew of Creole,
Miskito, Sumu, Ramu, black Carib..." and discovers that each group
distrusts the other and that all of them hate the Spanish, the
Costa Ricans, the modern-day pirates, and the Colombians ---
although the Colombian cocaine that washes ashore is gathered by
one and all to use or to sell.
SAVAGE SHORE is a well-written, compelling olio of travel
memoir, political and economic history, and social commentary. It
is also an eye-opening account of the natural history of the bull
shark --- the only shark known to travel inland --- the fear and
greed it continues to provoke in humans, and the widescale massacre
that has led to its current plight in Lake Nicaragua, "its
crucible, its unglamorous, rough-shored, uniquely fitting
home."
---
Reviewed by Jami Edwards
(c)
Copyright 2001, Bookreporter.com. All rights reserved.



 

  --- Reviewed by

Reviewed by on January 23, 2011

Savage Shore: Life and Death With Nicaragua's Last Shark Hunters
by Edward Marriott

  • Publication Date: March 7, 2000
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Travel
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books
  • ISBN-10: 080505555X
  • ISBN-13: 9780805055559