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Think of the Shark

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Afterword for the book Surviving the Shark

Think of the shark.

If you've been paying attention all these years you know that like a conveyor belt a shark can continuously replace lost teeth over and over again. A shark's body is covered with dermal "teeth" that give it hydrodynamic advantages. Pores connected to nerves act as a sixth sense and read electrical signals from prey. A shark's jaws aren't attached to its cranium. You might say that it is supremely efficient for hunting and eating from nose to tail, from skin to skeleton.
Now, feel the shark.

Not with your fingers, but with your entire, complex and exquisite nervous system.

Put aside what you think you know -- and really feel the shark.

From deep in your amygdala, the seat of primitive emotions, to the tips of your toes a shark feels like a shiver.

Bathed in dopamine, your brain on shark is rewarded with precisely what it has always craved.

Addiction isn't too strong a word. In fact, it's precisely the correct word.

If you pull the electric threads that make up each wave in that shiver you'll discover awe, lust, fear, longing, strength, hunger, jealousy and that you are right at home.

Feel the shark.

It's said that you remember most and understand best when you feel. So, feel.

With a flash from its black eye, the cut of its dorsal fin or the flick of its tail, the shark demands that you feel. There's nothing polite about it. It all happens so quickly.

Meanwhile, the front of your brain works to make sense of shark memories, films, stories, prose, information and context.

Together your modern and ancient mind simultaneously asks every neuron in your body the same question: what are you going to do now?

How you respond to that question will determine your future. It will decide the fate of sharks. And it will foreshadow what our planet's single greatest feature, the ocean, becomes.

Does your body-mind tell you to live? Yes it does.

You can never comprehend the ocean until you feel the shark. You'll never fully feel the shark until you know your own mind. And you have just scratched the surface. Congratulations.

Feel the shark.

Know yourself. Comprehend the ocean. Love.

In Surviving the Shark, Jonathan Kathrein describes his incredible shark attack experience. The book covers all aspects of Kathrein's survival, beginning with the eerie moments just before the attack, when something smashes into Kathrein's hand as he paddles on his board, waiting for a wave off Stinson Beach in northern California. Realizing it is probably shark, and possibly a great white, Kathrein tries to paddle away, furiously trying to make it toward shore, where he sees some of his friends on the beach. But it is too late, as the great white returns, slams into him, then grabs his leg and pulls him underwater, thrashing him back and forth, trying to rip his leg off. How Kathrein is able to escape and make his way to shore, despite his horrific wounds, is nothing short of amazing. But that's just the beginning, as he now faces months of physical and mental rehabilitation, all the while dealing with the constant media attention that the attack has generated. Gradually, with the help of his family and friends, Kathrein makes a recovery. Today, Kathrein gives lectures on shark conservation, as well as on such topics as avoiding shark attacks when you're in the water. In this book, he not only writes of his ordeal, but also delves into shark behavior, and explains his desire to spread shark awareness.

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