Author William McKeever

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Press Materials

Emperors of the Deep

Shark Information to Support the Book,  

Key Facts:

  • William McKeever, author of EMPERORS OF THE DEEP: Sharks—The Ocean’s Most Mysterious, Most Misunderstood, and Most Important Guardians (HarperOne; July 2019; ISBN: 9780062880321; $25.99; Hardcover); dispels the myth that sharks as man-eaters.  
  • Humans killed 100 million sharks last year while human fatalities from sharks were only 4 WORLDWIDE.
  • Sharks are in trouble.  An estimated 32 percent of open ocean sharks—including the scalloped hammerhead and whale shark—are currently threatened with extinction.
  • Sharks are 450 million years old and have survived five extinction level events, including the one that killed off the dinosaurs.
  • Shark fins sell for as much as $300 per pound to make soup.  Around the world, consumers are eating more shark meat and using the sharks to make cosmetics.
  • Shark tourism is a growing business. A single shark generates an estimated $100,000-$250,000 per year in revenues.
  • Scientists have made exciting new discoveries about the over 500 species of sharks.  For example, the Thresher shark kills with its tail, not its jaws.  The Epaulette shark “walks” on top of coral reefs in search of prey during low tide.
  • Sharks can dive 4,000 feet below the surface where water temperatures are barely above freezing, and the water pressure crushes most animals.
  • Sharks have developed a sixth sense to detect electrical fields that they use to navigate thousands of miles or to bite prey with intricate precision.
  • As apex predators, sharks are crucial to the ocean’s health by maintaining reef and seagrass ecosystems.
  • Emperors of the Deep  features the first female captains of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, the South African trackers of great whites, and the self-professed “last great shark hunter.”
  • The book includes interviews with world-renowned shark scientists who have examined the Mako, Tiger, Hammerhead, and Great White sharks.
  • McKeever is embarking on a grass roots media tour across the country for his mission to save the sharks.

Emperors of the Deep is a must-read for anyone in love with our oceans and concerned with averting the looming ecological destruction of our planet. McKeever brings to light the importance of sharks and their role as ancient guardians of the seas.”—John Hocevar, Oceans Campaign Director, Greenpeace USA

A Myth-Busting Exploration of the Secret Lives of Sharks—and an Urgent Call to Protect These Extraordinary Creatures for the Survival of Our Oceans and Very Planet…


By William McKeever

A portion of McKeever’s royalties will go to Greenpeace

Growing up in Pittsburgh and spending summers in Cape Cod—fishing with his father in Nantucket Sound, William McKeever developed an appreciation of the ocean and sharks. When he came across a shark tournament, he started to investigate why these animals were killed for sport and what was happening to them. His investigation led to a two-year journey into the world of the shark.

In EMPERORS OF THE DEEP: Sharks—The Ocean’s Most Mysterious, Most Misunderstood, and Most Important Guardians (HarperOne; July 2019; ISBN: 9780062880321; $25.99;  Hardcover) author William McKeever, is shifting the perception of sharks from cold-blooded underwater predators to keystone species that the oceans desperately need. Yet sharks are falling prey to humans—in staggering numbers. McKeever states a shocking truth: “While sharks kill on average only four humans a year, humans kill 100 million sharks during the same time period.” These magnificent creatures are truly evolutionary marvels that play an integral role in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans—and, ultimately, the fate of our planet.         

So, how do you overcome the ferocious image instilled by Jaws and Shark Week? As McKeever realized: “The only way to change the way we think about sharks is to cast the species in an entirely new light, in all of their underwater glory.” He dedicated two years to researching and investigating sharks. He met with the top oceanographic research institutions and interviewed leading scientists from the Florida Keys to Australia’s Shark Bay. He joined forces with Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior activists in Buson, South Korea. He met with courageous shark conservationists working to change the public’s view of sharks through creative marketing campaigns and daring exhibitions. And he swam with the sharks, becoming immersed in their environment.   

In EMPERORS OF THE DEEP, McKeever shares insights from his investigations and revelations from his adventures, including:

  • Sharks are survivors. 50-million years older than trees, sharks have survived five extinction level events, including the one that killed off the dinosaurs.
  • Sharks are diverse. Beyond the Big Four—great white, mako, hammerhead, and tiger—the ocean is home to approximately 500 species of sharks, from the epaulette, which crawls across the surface of reefs, to the 34-ton whale shark, the ocean’s gentle giant.    
  • Sharks are social animals. Sharks not only work together to achieve their goals (#1: food); sharks play and chill together. As researchers have observed, sharks spend most of their time with sharks in their own social networks and establish long-term relationships.
  • Sharks are smart. Forget dolphins. The intelligence of sharks is underrated. Sharks have superb navigation skills and electroreception: a sixth sense that lets them pick up on electric fields generated by living things.
  • Sharks are prized catches. Chinese covet their fins for soup. Sharks are also killed for their squalene, a key moisturizing agent in products like lipstick. Squalene fisheries operate primarily in the southeastern Atlantic and western Pacific oceans, where regulations are lax.

Sharks aren’t the only victims of the high seas fishing industry. As McKeever reveals in the book, many Asians are trafficked to work on the fishing boas as slaves. He interviews six former slaves-at-sea in Cambodia who reveal shocking details of life at sea as a slave.

The author also tries to make sense of why people continue to kill sharks for sport, He discusses the barbaric shark tournaments and reveals a mako-only shark tournament in Montauk, Long Island, plus a day in the life of the self-professed “last great shark hunter.”

EMPERORS OF THE DEEP ends with what we can do to save the sharks. As McKeever makes clear, it all starts with changing people’s minds about sharks and why they matter. Then we must take action to reform the world’s fishing industries with new regulations.

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About the Author

WILLIAM MCKEEVER is the founder of Safeguard of the Seas, an NGO dedicated to ocean conservation and devoted to protecting sharks and the oceans threatened by humans. Through activism, advocacy, and education, the mission is to save sharks and the ocean. McKeever was born in Pittsburgh PA; and resides in New York City.  

Emperors of the Deep: 

Sharks—The Ocean’s Most Mysterious, Most Misunderstood, and Most Important Guardians

Published by: HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

On-sale date: June 25, 2019

Pub Date         July 3, 2019

ISBN:               9780062880321

Price:              $25.99

Format:           Hardcover

Pages:            320

Suggested Interview Questions for


Author of Emperors of the Deep

Contact William at 212-472-4330

  • More than 40 years have passed since the publication of Peter Benchley’s book and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie. How do you explain the enduring power of Jaws on the public’s perception and fear of sharks?
  • Last year, humans killed 100 million sharks while human fatalities from sharks were only 4 WORLDWIDE.  Why are we all clamoring to kill them and what is their value? 
  • In Emperors of the Deep, you share insights from the emerging science of sharks. What’s new and exciting about this research specialty?
  • Why are sharks truly marvelous creatures from an evolutionary perspective?
  • How, exactly, do sharks play a crucial part in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans?
  • How do sharks communicate with one another? Does their intelligence rival that of dolphins?
  • Why do you describe sharks as social animals?
  • Would you give us a peek inside the secret sex lives of sharks?
  1. In your book you feature the first female captains of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior.  How did you align yourself in Greenpeace?  Why did you decide to donate a portion of your royalties from the book to the organization?
  1. In Emperors of the Deep, you reveal the dark side of the international fishing traffic industry. What was most startling and disturbing about your interviews in Cambodia?
  1. What did you take away from the day you spent with the self-proclaimed “last great shark hunter”?
  1. Why do recreational fishermen continue to hunt shark for sport? How can conservationists take a stand against trophy tournaments glorifying the murder of sharks?
  1. Tell us about what is was like to see sharks up close and personal in their natural habitat. Weren’t you just a tiny bit scared?
  1. What’s extraordinary about the work of Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior activists?
  1. What specific policy changes or regulations do you support for the protection of sharks?
  1.  What is your ultimate goal for Emperors of the Deep? What can anyone who cares about the future of our planet do to help save the sharks?

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