The Devil's Teeth A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

Susan Casey

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Since Jaws scared a nation of moviegoers out of the water three decades ago, great white sharks have attained a mythic status as the most frightening and mysterious monsters to still live among us. Each fall, just twenty-seven miles off the San Francisco coast, in the waters surrounding a desolate rocky island chain, the world's largest congregation of these fearsome predators gathers to feed.

Journalist Susan Casey first saw the great whites of the Farallones in a television documentary. Within months, she was sitting with two shark scientists in a small motorboat as the sharks—some as long as twenty feet, as wide as a semitrailer—circled around them. From this first encounter, Casey became obsessed with these awe-inspiring creatures, and a plan was hatched for her to join the scientists and follow their research. The Devil's Teeth is the riveting account of that one fateful shark season.


Praise for The Devil's Teeth

"Indulges in just the right mix of anxiety, gore and reassuring shark science. One can find reason to fear the waves and then muster the courage to enter them, usually within the same chapter."—The New York Times Book Review

"Chilling . . . A lively and detailed account."USA Today

"[A] page-turner . . . The book gives you a way of reaching these mysterious isles without getting wet."—San Francisco Chronicle

"The adventure story guaranteed to scare people right out of the water."—The Associated Press

"The Devil's Teeth is more than shark story: it is an account of our instincts, out appetites, even out futures, all beautifully told by a writer compelled to know."—Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers

"Casey delivers amazing details . . . The Devil's Teeth will surely satisfy your appetite for all things fanged and finned."—National Geographic Adventure

"While The Devil's Teeth has the hallmarks of a summer potboiler—enormous carnivores, fierce storms, last-minute hair-raising escapes—it is much more, because throughout the book runs a steady stream of scientific discovery."—The Explorers Journal

"Each September a group of great white sharks gathers off Farallon Islands—a 211-acre, 10-island archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, 27 miles off San Francisco—and remains there for about three months. For 15 years, biologists Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle have studied them and concluded that the same sharks return to the same location each year. These islands—protected as a national wildlife refuge—are the only place where it's possible to study their behavior naturally in the wild. Anderson and Pyle can recognize each shark and have named them; there's Betty and Mama, Spotty and T-Nose, among others. Casey, a development editor at Time Inc., joined the biologists for eight weeks to gather material for the book, which has 16 pages of color photographs. The result is a detailed and absorbing account of these awesome creatures."—George Cohen, Booklist

"From its startling opening description of scientists racing to the bloody scene where a shark has decapitated a seal, this memoir–cum–natural and cultural history of the Farallon Islands—'the spookiest, wildest place on Earth'—plunges readers into the thrills of shark watching. Casey, a sportswriter with recurring dreams about deep-sea creatures, 'became haunted' by the 211-acre archipelago 27 miles west of San Francisco when she saw a BBC documentary about Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson, biologists who study the great white sharks there. The islands are the only place on Earth where scientists can study the animals in their natural habitat. These evolutionary ancients (sharks lived 200 million years before dinosaurs) can be as large as Mack trucks, eat suits of armor, are both fierce and friendly, and, according to Casey, are an addictive fascination for those lucky enough to encounter them. Casey's three-week solo stay on a yacht anchored in shark waters is itself an adventure, with the author evacuating just hours before the yacht disappeared in a storm. Her suspenseful narrative perfectly matches the drama and mystery of these islands, their resident sharks and the scientists who love them."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


An ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep.


The killing took place at dawn and as usual it was a decapitation, accomplished...

Read the full excerpt





  • Great White Sharks near the Farallon Islands

    Journalist Susan Casey studies the Great White Shark off the coast of the Farallon Islands in her book, The Devil's Teeth.



  • Susan Casey

  • 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. She lives in New York City.

  • Susan Casey
    Susan Casey