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THESE BOOKS ARE THE PERSONAL PICKS OF THE WEBMASTER. They are not textbooks but books about a variety of subjects. Most are in print but not necessarily new. I welcome your suggestions for inclusions but reserve the right to ignore them!

The order in the list below has no relation to any perceptions of quality or enjoyment. I like them all. All are in paperback, I believe.

Here's the key:

CC - For children

NH - Well-written natural history books, novels, or books about folks working in the ocean

IS - Books discussing contemporary issues relating marine biology and society

Warner, William W., 1977. Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay.

The mighty blue-claw crab is immortalized as are its hunters. A lovely account of the natural history of a fascinating and delicious creature. NH

Corson, Trevor, 2004. The Secret Life of Lobsters. HarperCollins Books, New York.

This is a delightful account of the sex lives of lobsters and the personal experiences, triumphs and even failures of scientists who study them. NH

Safina, Carl, 1999. Song for the Blue Ocean.

Probably the best recent book documenting the decline of fish abundance in the ocean. Safina is a fine writer and communicates a depressing story with great skill and scholarship. IS

Greenlaw, Linda, 2000. Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey.

The excitement, the frustrations, and certainly the humor of running a swordfish boat out on the open Atlantic. This is a great read and gives you a perspective of fishing from the fisher's side. NH

Philbrick, Nathaniel, 2000. In the Heart of the Sea. The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Viking Penguin.

Winner of the National Book Award, this account of a whaling vessel's sinking, after being rammed by a sperm whale, tells the most harrowing and poignant stories you are ever liable to encounter. A fantastic account of the Nantucket whalers and their bold adventures slaughtering whales from Atlantic to Pacific. NH

Holling, Holling Clancy, 1990. Pagoo (illustrated by Lucille Webster Holling)

Pagoo the hermit crab is the protagonist of this simply delightful children's book. A must read for budding marine biologists. CC

Holling, Holling Clancy, 1972. Minn of the Mississippi.

Alright, this is not a marine creature. The adventures of a wayward baby snapping turtle as it moves down the mighty Mississippi. Like all of Holling's books, this one brims with wit, detail, excitement and inspiration for children. CC

Carson, Rachel. 1989. The Sea Around Us. Oxford University Press, New York.

Quite simply the finest book ever written about the ocean. Carson, the author of Silent Spring presents a lyrical account of the ocean and its creatures. (An afterword by Jeffrey Levinton provides an update to the 1951 classic). NH

Ricketts, E. F. and others, 1985. Between Pacific Tides. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA.

Ed Ricketts is a marine biology legend and his coauthored book on the marine biology of American Pacific shores is both informative and a joy to read. A must volume for those who roam the lovely shores of our U.S. Pacific coast. NH

Zimmer, Carl. 1998. At the Water's Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea. Touchstone, New York.

The story of the invasion of land by vertebrates, followed by a reinvasion of the ocean, which involved a fascinating series of evolutionary transitions, many of which are documented by an excellent fossil record. Zimmer conveys the excitement of the discoveries by paleontologists and the tremendous evolutionary transitions that had to be achieved. Few realize just how well the fossil record documents the origin of whales from terrestrial ancestors - this book tells the story well. IS

Sapp, J. 1999. What is Natural? Oxford University Press, New York.

The fascinating story of the great explosions of crown-of-thorns starfish throughout the Pacific. Sapp tells of the recognition of the problem by an Australian marine scientist and the difficult task of understanding whether the widespread population increases and coral destruction were due to human actions or just a "natural" event. This is one of the most important issues in conservation today and Sapp captures the problem with great skill. IS

Lynch, J. 2005. The Highest Tide. Bloomsbury Publishing, New York.

If you have a teenager who wants to be a marine biologist, then this is the book to read! A coming-of-age book, yes, but also one of great charm and devotion to marine life. The tale and the writing are irresistable. NH

Steinbeck, J. 1941. The Log from the Sea of Cortez or Steinbeck, J. and E. Ricketts. Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research. Both available in paperback from Amazon.

If you ever wondered what would happen if a great writer, and a hard drinker-great marine biologist got together for some zoologizing, exploring, and idle conversation, this is a great pair of books to find out. Yes, Ed Ricketts is the same author of Between Pacific Tides. He also invented Ricketts' Folly, a rather nasty alcoholic drink, which was brought to life in his writing of "The Log". "It was said that the commanding officer of the unit, and he a major at that, after two drinks of it had marched smartly and with no hint of stagger right into a wall, and that he made a short heroic speech as he slithered into the ground." But the book, really, is mostly about marine biology and the ocean. A great inspiration. NH