A delightful A-to-Z menagerie of the sea – whimsically illustrated, authoritative, and thought-provoking.
For millennia, we have taken to the waves. And yet, for humans, the ocean remains our planet's most inaccessible region, the place about which we know the least. From A to Z, abalone to zooplankton, and through both text and original illustrations, Ocean Bestiary is a celebration of our ongoing quest to know the sea and its creatures.
Focusing on individual species or groups of animals, Richard J. King embarks upon a global tour of ocean wildlife, including beluga whales, flying fish, green turtles, mako sharks, noddies, right whales, sea cows (as well as sea lions, sea otters, and sea pickles), skipjack tuna, swordfish, tropicbirds, walrus, and yellow-bellied sea snakes. But more than this, King connects the natural history of ocean animals to the experiences of people out at sea and along the world's coastlines. From firsthand accounts passed down by the earliest Polynesian navigators to observations from Wampanoag clamshell artists, African-American whalemen, Korean female divers (or haenyeo), and today's pilots of deep-sea submersibles – and even to imaginary sea expeditions launched through poems, novels, and paintings – Ocean Bestiary weaves together a diverse array of human voices underrepresented in environmental history to tell the larger story of our relationship with the sea. Sometimes funny, sometimes alarming, but always compelling, King's vignettes reveal both how our perceptions of the sea have changed for the better and how far we still have to go on our voyage.
Series Editors’ Foreword: Oceans in Depth
Juan Fernández Crawfish
Mother Carey’s Chicken
New Zealand Sea Lion
Velella and the Man-of-War
Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
Author and illustrator Richard J. King wrote Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick, lauded in Science, Nature, and American Scholar. He also wrote Lobster, which was acclaimed by the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and The Devil's Cormorant: A Natural History, which was short-listed for the ASLE Creative Book Award and rated as one of the top five science books of the year by Library Journal. King co-edits the "Searchable Sea Literature" website, has published widely on maritime topics in scholarly and popular magazines, and he writes and illustrates a regular column on marine environmental history for Sea History magazine. He is a visiting professor at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, MA.
"At a time when the wonders of marine life need as many compassionate advocates as possible, Ocean Bestiary engages readers in the ocean's intricacies and significance, by telling curious, at times humorous stories of its animals as seen through the eyes of people who have spent time at sea – observing, sailing, fishing, and studying often in remote, unseen parts of the planet. The diversity of storytellers and human characters – with a particular focus on people from non-Western, non-white ethnic backgrounds – helps us to see that the ocean is for everyone. Fresh, accessible, and with entertaining illustrations, these are stories worth telling and well told."
– Helen Scales, author of The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean, and the Looming Threat That Imperils It