On average, only 16% of shark attack victims die. But Second Beach has a 100% mortality rate. This strange statistic attracts the attention of shark biologist Dr Matt Dicken. Matt undertakes a brave journey to Second Beach to unearth the reasons for the attacks.
Matt knows sharks, but he begins by visiting shark attack forensic expert Dr Geremy Cliff. Dr Cliff runs Matt through the attacks, and provides an initial suspect list, but Matt has to solve the rest of the riddle himself.
The remote stretch of coastline on which Second Beach lies is known locally as the “Wildcoast”. It’s a craggy, inaccessible area where a small tribal population has settled around the frontier town of Port St Johns. To Matt, the ocean here is a black hole of information. No one has done any research here. No population studies exist and Matt has no background information to fall back on. He’s on his own and he has to start from scratch.
Soon after his arrival Matt is swamped with local information. He has to wade through rumors of witchcraft and urban legend to get to the real facts. He soon realizes that to find out what’s going on, he’s going to have to head out to sea, to take the sharks on in their own turf.
Matt decides to place acoustic listening stations beneath the waves of Second Beach, but that will mean diving in possibly the most dangerous place he could choose.
He then has to fish for big man-eating sharks, place acoustic tags on them, and release them. This is easier said than done, and Matt soon realizes that he can’t cope with the volume, size and species of sharks that appear at the end of his line.
He’s faced with the shocking realization that this beach is in the middle of the planet’s great shark hotspots, and that other critical factors conspire to make Second Beach the perfect place to be attacked by a shark.
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