Ocean Bestiary: Meeting Marine Life from Abalone to Orca to Zooplankton

Univ. of Chicago. May 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780226818030. $22.50. SCI
A bestiary is a work pertaining to living creatures, most often presented as a series of alphabetical listings that each describe a different animal. Bestiaries are often allegories in which each animal has symbolic significance. This bestiary written and illustrated by King (Ahab’s Rolling Sea), a scholar of maritime history and literature, is a fascinating overview of marine life and its history with humans. King has sailed many of the world’s oceans, including a 2007 voyage where he sailed alone across the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Portugal. Readers can certainly use this book as a reference; however, the author most likely intended it to be read from cover to cover. In doing so, readers will come away with a panoramic overview of ocean life and a solid knowledge of maritime history. King’s quality of research is evident; his entries contain firsthand accounts from primary sources dating back to early Polynesian explorers, through contemporary accounts by navigators of seagoing vessels.
VERDICT King’s writing style is delightful and witty; he is a natural storyteller. Readers will also love his illustrations, which have the power to put smiles on faces. Highly recommended for all academic libraries and publics too.
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