Synopses & Reviews
The World of the Salt Marsh
is a wide-ranging exploration of the southeastern coastandmdash;its natural history, its people and their way of life, and the historic and ongoing threats to its ecological survival.
Focusing on areas from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Cape Canaveral, Florida, Charles Seabrook examines the ecological importance of the salt marsh, calling it andldquo;a biological factory without equal.andrdquo; Twice-daily tides carry in a supply of nutrients that nourish vast meadows of spartina (Spartina alterniflora)andmdash;a crucial habitat for creatures ranging from tiny marine invertebrates to wading birds. The meadows provide vital nurseries for 80 percent of the seafood species, including oysters, crabs, shrimp, and a variety of finfish, and they are invaluable for storm protection, erosion prevention, and pollution filtration.
Seabrook is also concerned with the plight of the people who make their living from the coastandrsquo;s bounty and who carry on its unique culture. Among them are Charlie Phillips, a fishmonger whose livelihood is threatened by development in McIntosh County, Georgia, and Vera Manigault of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, a basket maker of Gullah-Geechee descent, who says that the sweetgrass needed to make her culturally significant wares is becoming scarcer.
For all of the biodiversity and cultural history of the salt marshes, many still view them as vast wastelands to be drained, diked, or andldquo;improvedandrdquo; for development into highways and subdivisions. If people can better understand and appreciate these ecosystems, Seabrook contends, they are more likely to join the growing chorus of scientists, conservationists, fishermen, and coastal visitors and residents calling for protection of these truly amazing places.
andldquo;The potential impact of The World of the Salt Marsh on society will be similar to the impact Silent Spring and A Sand County Almanac had in their time. Seabrook is a natural storyteller, and the book should be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in life along our coasts.andrdquo;andmdash;Fred Holland, former director of NOAAandrsquo;s Hollings Marine Laboratory
andquot;Charles Seabrook spent his childhood next to a marsh, and in this marvelous and insightful book he shares his intimate knowledge and his love of these unique green meadows that fill the sounds and bays behind barrier islands. With numerous interviews of scientists and colorful local characters and with Seabrook as our guide, we envision the geologic history of the lower coastal plain of the southeastern U.S., see the sights, observe the plants and animals, hear the sounds, and even smell the smells of the marshes. Irrevocably intertwined with nature here is the fascinating cultural history from Native Americans through the slave culture of the plantations right up to the environmental impact of todayandrsquo;s human rush to the shore. Breathtaking in its scope and highly readable, this book is a must-read for those interested in coasts and concerned for their future.andquot;andmdash;Orrin H. Pilkey, coauthor of The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline
andldquo;Told through the life experiences of his friends and colleaguesandmdash;fisherman, crabbers, oystermen and otherandmdash;the authorandrsquo;s story frequently returns to his main theme: the destruction of this important environmental resource. . . . [Including] history, a summary of contemporary scientific research and current legislative initiatives. . . . [The World of the Salt Marsh
is] another excellent wake-up call about the need to prevent the destruction of our natural environment.andrdquo;andmdash;Kirkus Reviews
andquot;You can read The World of the Salt Marsh
cover to cover, or dip into it at random, but be prepared to get hooked at any point. The Wild Georgia columnist is a most entertaining and knowledgeable tour guide, whether nibbling a saltwort leaf that resembles a 'moist potato chip' and tastes 'great in stuffed crab'; teaching an impromptu lesson on how to wriggle out of quicksand-like 'pluff mud' by 'belly-crawling' across it; or in his description of the imperiled diamondbacked terrapin: 'Imagine a reptile with the dreamy eyes of a golden retriever and the unassuming face of a manatee. Add the docile temperament of a lamb and the beauty of a seashell.'andquot;andmdash;Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
andquot;At first glance . . . The World of the Salt Marsh
is the poignant story of the coast. On second glance, the richly woven layers of this compelling narrative blend coastal culture and natural history with saltwater ecosystem dynamics to educate and inform. . . . This book provides a clear shapshot of the life and times of a salt marsh in today's fast-paced world. Just as clearly, it illustrates the need for stewardship and education among people whose activities impact the ecosystem. Carefully researched and thoughtfully illustrated with 52 crisp black and white photos, The World of the Salt Marsh
is a book for your keeper shelf.andquot;andmdash;Margaret Toussaint, Darien News
andquot;In this book, [Seabrook] takes a very personalandmdash;but still beautifully reportedandmdash;journey as he explores the Southeastern U.S. coast, from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Cape Canaveral, Florida. A native of Johns Island, South Carolina, Seabrook delves into natural history and ecological threats without letting the poetry of the marsh get lost in the science.andquot;andmdash;Teresa Weaver, Atlanta Magazine
andquot;This book is highly recommended to anyone who shares our respect of the salt marsh and would like to learn about its biology and culture.andquot;andmdash;David Whitaker and Billy McCord, Post and Courier
andquot;In The World of the Salt Marsh, Charles Seabrook's masterful and comprehensive examination of what remains of these endangered and disappearing wetlands, the native of Johns Island, SC explains why we should be 'appreciating and protecting the tidal marshes of the southeastern coast.'andquot;andmdash;C.F. Foster, Florida Times-Union
andldquo;Congratulations to Jeremy Evans for telling the truest story so far about Pavones, the iconic end-of-the-road place where human greed and conflict threatened to destroy exactly what brought people there.andrdquo;andmdash;Drew Kampion, award-winning author and former editor ofand#160;Surfer
andldquo;Jeremy Evans tells the true story of surfers, tuna, drug lords, and jungle fever in the backwaters and blue bays of Costa Rica. For anyone who has traveled the surf coast of Central America,and#160;The Battle for Paradise
and#160;is a must-read.andrdquo;andmdash;Serge Dedina, executive director of Wildcoast and author ofand#160;Wild Sea
and#160;andand#160;Surfing the Border
andldquo;The waves of Pavones rifle down a long left-hand point break, and for this reason they have become some of the most iconic waves in Costa Rica. However, as incredible as the waves are, the story behind the town is what will truly leave you gasping for air.andrdquo;andmdash;Kyle Thiermann, professional surferand#160;
andldquo;Pavones, Costa Rica, lay in a bucolic slumber until an entrepreneurial American smuggler with a Napoleon complex paid cash for a county-sized chunk of its surf-swept coast and made himself king. Things spiraled out of control from there, subsiding into a tropical stew of escapists, surfers, squatters, greed, and long, clean lefts.andrdquo;andmdash;Steve Pezman, publisher of the Surferandrsquo;s Journaland#160;
Pavones, a town located on the southern tip of Costa Rica, is a haven for surfers, expatriates, and fishermen seeking a place to start over. Located on the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), a marine sanctuary and one of the few tropical fjords in the world, Pavones is home to a legendary surf break and a cottage fishing industry.and#160;In 2004 a multinational company received approval to install the worldandrsquo;s first yellowfin tuna farm near the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The tuna farm as planned would pollute the area, endanger sea turtles, affect the existing fish population, and threaten the world-class wave. A lawsuit was filed just in time, and the project was successfully stalled. Thus began an unlikely alliance of local surfers, fishermen, and global environmental groups to save a wave and one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.and#160;In The Battle for Paradise, Jeremy Evans travels to Pavones to uncover the story of how this ragtag group stood up to a multinational company and how a shadowy figure from the townandrsquo;s violent past became an unlikely hero. In this harrowing but ultimately inspiring story, Evans focuses in turn on a colorful cast of characters with an unyielding love for the ocean and surfing, a companyandrsquo;s unscrupulous efforts to expand profits, and a government that nearly sold out the perfect wave.
About the Author
Jeremy Evans is a former daily newspaper reporter whose eight-year journalism career garnered numerousand#160;awards for his outdoor and sports writing. He is the author of In Search of Powder: A Story of Americaandrsquo;s Disappearing Ski Bum (Nebraska, 2010) and currently teaches English at Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Table of Contents
One. The Poetry of the Marsh
Two. A Walk across the Marsh
Three. Tide Watching
Four. Too Big for Its Britches
Five. Farms in the River
Six. Gone with the Flow
Seven. A Tale of Two Rivers
Eight. An Endangered Culture
Nine. The Institute
Ten. Protecting the Marsh?
Eleven. Saving the Oyster
Twelve. Saving the Marsh
Thirteen. Rice Fields and Causeways
Fourteen. Bridging the Marsh
Fifteen. The Ultimate Price
Sixteen. Living on the Edge
Seventeen. The Last Season
Eighteen. The Beloved Land