New Kids' Book Tells Tale Of Stranded Chatham Shark

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Sharks

You might remember the dramatic rescue in July 2015 of a juvenile great white shark that beached himself on South Beach.

Jamison, as the shark was later named, had jumped out of the water to catch a bird and landed on a sandbar. Unable to extricate himself, he eventually washed onto the shore on his back. Beachgoers kept him alive until he could be towed out to sea again by the harbormaster and shark scientist Dr. Greg Skomal. He was at that time also outfitted with a GPS monitor.

Jamison returned to Chatham’s waters in late June 2016 after being spotted off Cape Breton in Canada in October 2015. Jamison has a Twitter feed that describes him as a “risk taker” who “likes to travel.” He is also known as “the shark that lived.”

Now a Chatham mother/daughter team has created an illustrated children’s book for readers age 3 to 8 called “A Shark! Named Jamison.”

“I was enamored by this story,” author Consie Berghausen said during a recent interview in her home overlooking the tidal marsh Sulphur Springs. “This is a wonderful story of trying to save this shark.” As she notes, the story of Jamison’s rescue is a very different story from that of the movie “Jaws,” in which town officials hunt a man-eating shark.

“A Shark!” opens with a page of basic facts about sharks. Did you know that when sharks lose their teeth, they are immediately replaced with new teeth? Or that there are over 465 species of sharks?

The charming story is enhanced by Consie’s daughter Nina’s whimsical illustrations in watercolor and colored pencil. Here is the plot: Jamison is an only child shark, with fetching buck teeth. As the tale opens, he is swimming with his mom toward Chatham when he decides to play. Spying a seagull, he breaks away from his mother and joins his new friend in the sand. Except Jamison doesn’t know what it is to live out of the sea. Kind beachgoers throw water over his gills as he is roped and towed out into the water again. Mother and son, now tagged, are reunited.

Berghausen, meanwhile, is waiting to see if Jamison will return to Chatham again this summer.

“A Shark!” is the fourth book created by the Berghausen team. Their first book was “The Saltwater Marsh, a Magical Place” (2015). This was inspired by the view of Sulphur Springs from the family home. From here, Berghausen can observe swans, egrets, herons, foxes, deer and raccoons romping below in the marsh. “Everything goes through here,” she says. During full moons, the marsh fills up and looks like a lake. She wrote about the marsh because “I wanted my grandchildren to respect the animals and the habitats that are on this earth.” And because she is a fan of Noel Coward, and loves rhyming verse, this is the style in which she chose to write. “A squeaky brown bat glides in wondrous loops/Hunting for bugs he must dive, spin and swoop.”

In their third book, the Berghausens returned to the marsh with “The Cormorant and the Clam” (2016). Like “A Shark!” this is based on a true story. One day Nina and her dad kayak through the marsh to Ridgevale Beach. There, they come upon a cormorant who cannot extract its beak from a quahog. After he catches the bird, Dad cannot pull the quahog off its beak. So the pair bring the bird home in the kayak. There, Dad pries the quahog off using a screwdriver. And does the bird then thank Dad? It does not. He “lifts into the air, stretches his neck/Poops on Dad’s leg, gives Dad’s head a hard peck.” The moral of the book is “what do you do to help somebody who doesn’t want help?” Berghausen says.

Consie and her husband Edward Berghausen have lived in Chatham part-time for 27 years. They also live in Tucson, Az., where, Edward practices as an orthopedic surgeon. Berghausen herself was a clinical psychologist working in the Berkshires before her marriage. When their two daughters both entered college in Southern California—Nina just graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in graphic design—Berghausen asked herself, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” After some thought, she concluded, “I want my future grandchildren to know about these amazing habitats.”

After writing her “ode to the marsh,” she wrote her second book, “The Sonoran Desert, A Magical Place” (2016). She sees the desert from her home in Tucson.

After co-creating four books, the mother/daughter team have hit a rhythm in their work.

“I’m always kind of thrilled,” Berghausen says. “We rarely don’t agree on her artwork. We work really well together because they’re such different jobs.”

Berghausen will sign copies of her books on Friday, July 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Yellow Umbrella Books. She will also read and sign “A Shark!” on Wednesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. during a Wednesday Story Time at Where the Sidewalk Ends. Shark lollipops will be available for all who purchase “A Shark!”