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For millennia the great fish – marlin, bluefin tuna, and swordfish – have reigned over the world's oceans and awed human beings. Naturalists, photographers, sportfishermen, and writers from Zane Grey to Ernest Hemingway have been inspired by their beauty, power, and sheer size. But like much other marine life today, these fish face perilous reductions in their populations due to destructive and illegal fishing, inept fisheries management practices, and dramatic changes in ocean ecology, including those wrought by climate change. In Pursuit of Giants is a moving elegy and a call to arms for the protection of these creatures, as well as a five-year, 75,000-mile global adventure story that takes author Matt Rigney on a quest to discover how once-thriving species are now threatened. Rigney's pilgrimage to encounter these giants takes him from the sportfishing mecca of Cabo San Lucas, to the Great Barrier Reef, from New Zealand to Nova Scotia, Japan and the Mediterranean, as he joins commercial and sport fishermen, marine biologists, fish-farming pioneers, and ocean activists to investigate the dangers these species face, and the various efforts being made – or not – to protect them.
Matt Rigney is a native New Englander and has fished fresh- and saltwater for over forty years. He sailed aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining American whaleship, on its thirty-eighth voyage. His opinion pieces and articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, Orion, Bisbee's Marlin World, and Huffington Post, where he blogs about commercial fishing, ocean conservation, and fish.
"Muscular and lyrical by turns, Mr. Rigney's prose deftly captures the wildness of the sea – the deep gleam of a shoal turning suddenly in the sunlight, the birdlike head of a striped marlin, spawning tuna 'blazing their milky contrails.' Each section reads like a short story. Thumbnail character sketches abound, with the odd salty joke thrown in."
– Wall Street Journal
"An avid fisherman, Rigney provides a glorious read in his examination of sportfishing and the imperiled state of ocean life. The 'awe and humility' felt in the presence of these fish is sensitively and powerfully wrought throughout this dramatic, transcendental tale."
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Rigney has crafted a smart, lyrical, passionate-but-not-too-preachy call to arms."
– Miami Herald
"[...] a dramatic account that will appeal to the sportsman and conservationist alike."
– Kirkus Reviews
"[An] entertaining and impassioned text with strategic suggestions for sustainable fishing."
"In Pursuit of Giants is a very timely and important book, impressively thorough in the extent of its research, including many eloquent interviews at sea with commercial fishermen whose traditional livelihoods, like the splendid animals themselves, are everywhere on the point of disappearance. Like Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean, it is not only informative but exceptionally well written and a pleasure to read, which should bring it the wide audience it deserves."
– Peter Matthiessen, author of Men's Lives
"In Pursuit of Giants is an exquisitely detailed love story, the tale of Matt Rigney’s love of the lions and tigers of the sea - the bluefin tuna, swordfish, and marlin that make sports anglers’ pulses race. It’s a love story colored with sadness from the unrelenting assaults on these fish from commercial fishing, tuna ranching, and even sports anglers themselves. But it’s also a story of hope - Rigney documents the efforts of men and women he met in his travels around the world, individuals who are trying to save these ocean giants. In Pursuit of Giants should inspire its readers to both love and defend its magnificent subjects."
– Ted Danson, actor and author of Oceana