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Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge

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“You might not expect unfettered passion on the topic of seaweed, but Shetterly is such a great storyteller that you find yourself following along eagerly.” —Mark Kurlansky “Seaweed is ancient and basic, a testament to the tenacious beginnings of life on earth,” writes Susan Hand Shetterly in this elegant, fascinating book. “Why wouldn’t seaweeds be a protean life source f “You might not expect unfettered passion on the topic of seaweed, but Shetterly is such a great storyteller that you find yourself following along eagerly.” —Mark Kurlansky “Seaweed is ancient and basic, a testament to the tenacious beginnings of life on earth,” writes Susan Hand Shetterly in this elegant, fascinating book. “Why wouldn’t seaweeds be a protean life source for the lives that have evolved since?” On a planet facing environmental change and diminishing natural resources, seaweed is increasingly important as a source of food and as a fundamental part of our global ecosystem. In Seaweed Chronicles, Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made. Ideal for readers of such books as The Hidden Life of Trees and How to Read Water, Seaweed Chronicles is a deeply informative look at a little understood and too often unappreciated part of our habitat.


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“You might not expect unfettered passion on the topic of seaweed, but Shetterly is such a great storyteller that you find yourself following along eagerly.” —Mark Kurlansky “Seaweed is ancient and basic, a testament to the tenacious beginnings of life on earth,” writes Susan Hand Shetterly in this elegant, fascinating book. “Why wouldn’t seaweeds be a protean life source f “You might not expect unfettered passion on the topic of seaweed, but Shetterly is such a great storyteller that you find yourself following along eagerly.” —Mark Kurlansky “Seaweed is ancient and basic, a testament to the tenacious beginnings of life on earth,” writes Susan Hand Shetterly in this elegant, fascinating book. “Why wouldn’t seaweeds be a protean life source for the lives that have evolved since?” On a planet facing environmental change and diminishing natural resources, seaweed is increasingly important as a source of food and as a fundamental part of our global ecosystem. In Seaweed Chronicles, Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made. Ideal for readers of such books as The Hidden Life of Trees and How to Read Water, Seaweed Chronicles is a deeply informative look at a little understood and too often unappreciated part of our habitat.

30 review for Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge

  1. 5 out of 5

    Yodamom

    I can't wait to read this. I have loved seaweed, diving in kelp forests, seaweed harvesting, exploring it's amazing uses since I was 12.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maura Muller

    Beautiful. "Wild places will teach us, if we let them, if we pay attention." I picked this book up as an ARC at Library Journal's Day of Dialog for my son who is studying to be a marine scientist in Maine. I began reading it to see if he might enjoy it. I know he will treasure it. I could not put it down. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a walk along a shoreline, or loves eating seafood; clams, lobster, shrimp, cod, haddock. Maybe you love science like me, or the ocean. Perhaps you vacation in Maine Beautiful. "Wild places will teach us, if we let them, if we pay attention." I picked this book up as an ARC at Library Journal's Day of Dialog for my son who is studying to be a marine scientist in Maine. I began reading it to see if he might enjoy it. I know he will treasure it. I could not put it down. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a walk along a shoreline, or loves eating seafood; clams, lobster, shrimp, cod, haddock. Maybe you love science like me, or the ocean. Perhaps you vacation in Maine or have dreamed of visiting there. You might be an avid birder, or love exploring tidepools. This is not a book only about seaweed, but about the people who live alongside and work and study coastal habitats. It is about our interconnectedness. Shetterly writes in her acknowledgements, "This book is about the past and the present, but also, and perhaps especially, it points to the future. As I wrote it, my grandchildren were my compass. They will inherit, as will all our children and grandchildren, what we leave for them of the wild." It is a beautiful book. Buy it! Read it. Share it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Belle

    This was absolutely a wonderful and informative read. Before I get into the specifics of all the things I liked and didn’t, however, I would like to talk about my own feelings on the subject matter at hand. Reading this book frustrated me immensely. I hated reading about all this disappearing wildlife, and its habitat, and not being able to do anything about it. I was even more frustrated when Shetterly described the efforts being made to stop the industries that are trashing habitat and chewing This was absolutely a wonderful and informative read. Before I get into the specifics of all the things I liked and didn’t, however, I would like to talk about my own feelings on the subject matter at hand. Reading this book frustrated me immensely. I hated reading about all this disappearing wildlife, and its habitat, and not being able to do anything about it. I was even more frustrated when Shetterly described the efforts being made to stop the industries that are trashing habitat and chewing up seafloor, and the readiness of certain key individuals to kiss up to these industries instead of working to preserve these wild resources for our future. I really hope that, if not this book, then something else will have a profound effect on our society, and that much like the birds of Silent Spring, the creatures of Seaweed Chronicles will be saved before it is too late. Putting aside my frustration with out species, here are some of the things that caught my eye and I enjoyed reading about in Seaweed Chronicles: 1. Complexity of ecosystems – the ecosystem of any area is a complex thing. The ocean, while seemingly self-contained and less complicated, actually is awe-inspiring in its complexity. I never really realized just how much all the different species and habitats affect each other, and just how much the temperature, acidity, and currents of the ocean can affect these interlocking species. If you don’t think the ocean in complex, or that there are many many resources worth saving, read this book. It may appear to be about seaweed, but in reality it is about the many separate wild lives that seaweed supports. 2. Political and cultural effects – Even more shocking than the complexity of the ocean and the sheer amount of life that seaweed supports was the realization that this industry has enormous political and cultural potential, in both cases – whether the seaweed is conserved or completely destroyed. I got to read about the effects of the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, and about the poverty in the Phillipines. I never realized just how much these seemingly unimportant seaweeds tie us all together. Reading about all this was most definitely eye opening. 3. Personal stories – my favorite part about the book was actually not the global impact it conveyed, but the personal, down to earth people that encapsulate the global reach of seaweed. I really enjoyed reading about all the scientists’ stories, all the fishermen and gatherers for whom seaweed is actually a way of life. I think its really hard to get people to connect to a nonfiction read, but Shetterly really draws you in with her ability to relate these real world figures through the pages. Reading about them and their way of life made me more aware of my own actions and the increasing need of awareness in others. I have little to say in terms of what I didn’t like, but one thing that I could recommend to the author, and that would have made the read a little bit easier would be the addition of graphics.There were no images or graphs and I ended up having to draw in the more detailed explanations to make sense of them. Perhaps someone understanding something about seaweed, or having a background in it, would not need help in this, but in my personal experience, it was a little confusing. There is a glossary at the beginning of the book, but as it is missing pictures of the species described, I didn’t find it to be much help.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Celina

    Susan Hand Shetterly tells a familiar story of a beautiful but tenuous ecology at risk from overharvesting, but she tells it so well and so thoroughly that it's a pleasure to read. My favorite passage, from the chapter "The Uneasy Art of Making Policy": "When sitting in on a meeting of seaweed harvesters and processors, I heard one of the participants, tilting back in his chair, declare, "Rockweed—you just can't overharvest it. You can't. It's infinite!" His right hand went up and flipped away a Susan Hand Shetterly tells a familiar story of a beautiful but tenuous ecology at risk from overharvesting, but she tells it so well and so thoroughly that it's a pleasure to read. My favorite passage, from the chapter "The Uneasy Art of Making Policy": "When sitting in on a meeting of seaweed harvesters and processors, I heard one of the participants, tilting back in his chair, declare, "Rockweed—you just can't overharvest it. You can't. It's infinite!" His right hand went up and flipped away any suspicion to the contrary. "I watched his hand because it looked like the wing of a bird to me, and it sent me, for a dreamlike moment, to the edge of a scrub field somewhere in Virginia at dusk in the late 1800s as clouds of birds—hundreds of the now gone, fabled passenger pigeons—settled into their nighttime roosts in a copse of live oaks. Across the nearby fields I could almost hear the echoing voices of the gunners as they came running with their lanky dogs."I'm coming away from this book with a better image of the far eastern coast of my state, its wildlife, its people, and its warming ocean; and a better idea of what exactly I care about when I care about the environment.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    I found this book fascinating. The Seaweed Chronicles explores the seaweed harvest in Maine, interweaving the importance of seaweed in coastal ecosystems, where every creature's life depends upon another. Shetterly takes us through the complicated debates between commercial harvesters, local harvesters and conservation efforts. Briefly describing the boom and bust of Maine fisheries, she makes the case for caution, consideration, compassion and thoughtfulness with new seaweed harvesting industry I found this book fascinating. The Seaweed Chronicles explores the seaweed harvest in Maine, interweaving the importance of seaweed in coastal ecosystems, where every creature's life depends upon another. Shetterly takes us through the complicated debates between commercial harvesters, local harvesters and conservation efforts. Briefly describing the boom and bust of Maine fisheries, she makes the case for caution, consideration, compassion and thoughtfulness with new seaweed harvesting industry, as well as other conservation efforts. Furthermore, Shetterly is an excellent writer; I felt like I was beside her on the rocky coast of Maine, with cold sea spray on my face, looking out at the seaweed curling in the waves. This book will make you care about seaweed! You'll be rooting for all of the passionate, hard-working people featured in this book who are fighting to preserve our natural resources and create a sustainable and responsible seaweed harvest.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elentarri

    Seaweed Chronicles explores the harvest of seaweed in the Gulf of Maine. This book is about relationships - relationships between the local people, large scale commerce, conservationists, seaweed, and all the species that depend on seaweed in one way or another. Shetterly provides us with the personal stories of individual people who work and live at the shore, about the local ecology, about the past, present and ultimately about the future. I found the book eloquently written, interesting and i Seaweed Chronicles explores the harvest of seaweed in the Gulf of Maine. This book is about relationships - relationships between the local people, large scale commerce, conservationists, seaweed, and all the species that depend on seaweed in one way or another. Shetterly provides us with the personal stories of individual people who work and live at the shore, about the local ecology, about the past, present and ultimately about the future. I found the book eloquently written, interesting and informative, but lacking in detail about the biology of seaweed as opposed to seaweed harvesting. Photographs and a locality map would also have been nice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I like to eat the 99 cent seaweed from the grocery store so I though I would want to eat I mean read a book about seaweed. I am having writers block about this review. I thought it was interesting to learn about the issues surrounding seaweed harvesting in Maine. For that matter I had no idea that seaweed was harvested in Maine. This was an entertaining book to read. I don't think I need to write more than that. I enjoyed reading it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Becca Ehling

    Loved this one—couldn’t put it down!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephani

    Wonderful book. Plenty of history, science, and personal stories that really made me appreciate a bit of my State's coast (and its people) a lot more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    Fascinating exploration of the seaweed industry and its entire context in the Gulf of Maine - mostly focused on the area in Maine where my family has deep roots.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Ross

    See my review at the New York Journal of Books: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    Such a different perspective! I have a greater appreciate for our ocean's forests and their value as habitat, food, and as part of the biome we all live in.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    This is a book that cries out for illustration, photos or line drawings. I spent lots of time on my tablet looking for images of the various types of seaweed mentioned. Otherwise, an interesting book alerting the reader to the seaweed battles between unregulated harvesters,big business and environmentalists

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bill Knapp

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brinda Lee

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pam Chun

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ron Frampton

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arthur D. Jensen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  22. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I won this book via Goodreads First Reads. I am an ECE administrator and I look forward to adding this book to the lending library for parents and staff at my school.

  23. 5 out of 5

    BJ

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Lindquist

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gry

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  27. 5 out of 5

    PWRL

    A

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana Keener

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aran

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hailey

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