Books we read

Our favourite pop science reads that keep us fascinated and inspired…

shadowmtnShadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild

by Renée Askins (2002)

Recommended by: Luis Malpica Cruz

This is certainly not a marine book, however it brings together a very inspiring conservation story and a beautiful narrative, just as if you were chatting with Renée over a few beers at the pub after work. Through her journey to defend the cause for lost apex predators in North America, and particularly to reintroduce the mythic gray wolf (Canis lupus) back to Yellowstone and the Midwest, Renée takes us from challenges to failures and successes. Her story should help to motivate and potentially teach us a lesson or two to all those involved in the conservation movement.


Cod-KurlanskyCod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

by Mark Kurlansky (1997)

Recommended by: Frances Robertson

I read this book so many years ago that I don’t remember exactly when. But this book has always stuck with me. Growing up in the UK, and studying marine biology in Aberdeen Scotland I could not escape learning about cod. Once the mainstay of the North Sea fishing fleets. The story of cod is woven through the centuries -it is the story of fish that had immense influence on the world, as the title implies. This small book is one that I can read and reread over and over again.



Beyond the Outer Shorescover_rain3.jpg

by Eric Enno Tam (2005)

Recommended by: Brett Howard

Beyond the Outer Shores is the incredible biography of a (mostly) unsung hero of marine ecology on the West Coast. Ed Ricketts was an entrepreneur, adventurer, and not-so-amateur natural historian. He was also one of John Steinbeck’s greatest friends and appears as a character in almost every book he wrote. There was so much in this book that connected with my love of the west coast and exploring the intertidal at low tide. I push this book on my friends more than any other!



51m-ZvSLo4L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

by G. Bruce Knecht (2006)

Recommended by: Luis Malpica Cruz

I came across this book in an actual long-liner boat, not for fishing but for science (mako and blue shark tagging off the Channel Islands in California). I enjoyed it because it shows the consequences and complexities behind nowadays illegal fishing practices and how a deep water fish in South America ends up as the base of a sophisticated entree in a high-priced restaurant in New York, with neither the fisher nor diner necessarily being aware of this.



The-Fire-in-the-Turtle-HouseFire In The Turtle House: The Green Sea Turtle and the Fate of the Ocean

by Osha Gray Davidson (2003)

Recommended by: Brett Howard

This has been on my favourites list possibly longer than any other non-fiction book I’ve read. Davidson delves into one of the least-appreciated problems in conservation: wildlife disease. This book is a fascinating investigation into the etiology and impacts of the tumor-causing fibropapillomatosis virus in sea turtles, wrapped up in a beautiful narrative about conserving one of the planet’s most charismatic reptiles.




The Bafut Beagles

by Gerald Durrell (1954)

Recommended by: Fiona Francis

This book fueled my passion for animals as a young child. As a zoologist during the golden age of species discovery and collection, Durrell recounts his numerous adventures around the world in search of weird and wonderful animals. The Bafut Beagles describes Durell’s 1949 collecting expedition to the Cameroons and sweeps the reader up using witty dry humour and compelling storytelling into a world where midnight toad chasing and giant squirrel herding are the norm.




4fishFour Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

by Paul Greenberg (2010)

Recommended by: Brett Howard

This book feels like the literary offspring of Cod by Mark Kurlansky (which I haven’t yet read) and The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. It takes a very honest look at four of the most economically and gastronomically important fisheries  in the ocean: salmon, sea bass, tuna, and (of course) cod. One thing I really appreciated about this book was its very even-handed treatment of finfish aquaculture and the significant challenges in making the industry both economically and environmentally sustainable


Silent_Spring_First_EdSilent Spring

by Rachel Carson (1962)

Recommended by: Luis Malpica Cruz

I was only able to read this one a couple of years ago. It opened my eyes as to how far back in time we as a society have been impacting the environment and continue to do so despite evidence that we should do otherwise. It is particularly striking that despite that this book was written more than 50 years ago it is still very current, especially considering the current use of GMO agricultural practices and the continued debate around their impacts on the environment and public health.

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