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The Fishes of the Western North Atlantic series, which began publication in the 1940s by Yale University's Sears Foundation for Marine Research, was from its beginnings conceived to synthesize and make accessible the wealth of information in widely scattered published accounts of the fish fauna of the region for both the layman and the specialist, presenting critical reviews rather than compilations. Part 4 was originally published in 1964 and covers two orders of soft-rayed bony fishes, namely the remainder of the Isospondyli not treated in part 3 and the Giganturoidei.
These reference works are still considered valuable and of interest today to both general audiences and the academic community. These books remain authoritative studies of the anadromous, estuarine, and marine fishes of the waters of the western North Atlantic from Hudson Bay southward to the Amazon, ranking as primary references for both amateurs and professionals interested in fishes, and as significant working tools for students of the sea.