Ray Troll knows sharks. Prehistoric sharks big enough to eat whales and diabolical little sharks that lure predators and then chomp on them.
The Ketchikan artist and author has created an alphabetical romp through the world of sharks and their kin, living and extinct. "Sharkabet: A Sea of Sharks From A to Z" is structured like a children's book but embellished with a wealth of shark facts and fish science.
Troll will give a slide show on sharks and "Sharkabet" and will sign copies of his new book from 1 to 3 Sunday afternoon at Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall.
"The slide show is art from the book, with me sharing anecdotes about the sharks, and a few other bits," he said. "I start the show with Alaska sharks."
The closest living relative of the great white shark, the salmon shark is a common resident of Southeast waters. Troll learned about salmon sharks firsthand when he accompanied Juneau biologist Lee Hulbert on a shark-tagging expedition.
"He was interested in doing a salmon shark painting and wanted some up-close and personal time with salmon sharks," said Hulbert, a fisheries researcher with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"Lee is doing some cool stuff," Troll said. "At the beginning I'll talk about the salmon sharks that range up and down the coast here. Lee is also doing some interesting work with sleeper sharks, which are big and strange and weird.
I love them. The weirder, the better."
Hulbert called Troll a free-lance ichthyologist with an impressive knowledge of science, fish and the world of sharks.
Troll is able to communicate that love of science and aquatic creatures to adults and kids.
"I've been giving this same slide show talk here (in Ketchikan)," Troll said. "The other day I gave the same show to first- and second-graders, fifth- and sixth-graders, and then adults in the evening. The first-graders almost revel in those big names."
In addition to the book and slide show, Troll has put together a museum show based on "Sharkabet," featuring the original artwork from the book, with other shark artifacts and paraphernalia. The show will be in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art for the summer and will spend the winter at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
Troll recently was featured in a Discovery Channel special on prehistoric sharks.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I'm on it yakking about whorltooth sharks. They had serrated teeth built to cut like a white shark's tooth, but lined up. They were like a swimming chopping block, a swimming ulu."
Troll recently collaborated with Randy Bayliss of Juneau on a cookbook called "Life's a Fish and Then you Fry," due out in May. He also has a fossil and geology guide to the western states in the works, a collaboration with paleobotanist Kirk Johnson.
Troll's presentation Sunday at the Nugget Mall is free and open to the public.
Riley Woodford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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