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Oceans and Marine Life
Fishes (64K)

Fish in an undersea kelp forest, off Santa Cruz Island

Jacques Cousteau - Early Adventures

My interest in the oceans started with Jacques-Yves Cousteau's TV specials and books, and grew from there. While they're somewhat outdated now, my Cousteau books are still a big part of my library, if for no other reason that they're just fascinating and fun to read. Cousteau was a man of many skills - explorer, inventor, conservationist, author, photographer, filmmaker. His early tales of diving and undersea exploration are magnificent adventure yarns.

Cousteau became a 'manfish' just before WW2, while he was an active-duty officer in the French Navy. During the occupation of France he continued his diving. During this time he cooperated with engineer Emile Gagnan to develop the invention that would make hi famous: the 'aqualung', formally named the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or S.C.U.B.A. When the war ended Cousteau continued diving, putting his undersea abilities to work for his country. Over the next few years he moved into undersea exploration

Cover of <i>The Silent World</i>

Cover of JY Cousteau's first book, The Silent World

  • SILENT WORLD, THE
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & Frederic Dumas
    Copyright:1953
    Publisher: Harper & Brothers
    ISBN:
    I think this is the best book to start with, mainly because it's the first book Cousteau wrote. It covers his early diving experiences: skin-diving in the Mediterranean during the German occupation of France, the invention of the AquaLung, his first attempts at ocean research, cave diving, and more. Cousteau's attitude is made clear from the start by his writing style and tone: he was never a scientist, he was an explorer and adventurer.
  • LIVING SEA, THE
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & James Dugan
    Copyright:1963
    Publisher: Harper & Row
    ISBN:
    A now-rare first edition hardcover of Cousteau's second book, including the origin of Calypso and Cousteau's first research group, diving in the Red Sea, shipwrecks, and the first Diving Saucer.
  • WORLD WITHOUT SUN
    Author: Cousteau, Jacques-Yves
    Copyright:1965
    Publisher: Harper & Row
    ISBN:
    The Conshelf (CONtinental SHELF) series of experiments was an attempt to discover if men could live and work in undersea habitats or colonies located on the continental shelves, within one or two hundred feet of the surface. There were a total of three Conshelf projects before enthusiasm (and funding) for the idea dried up in the late 1960s. This book is Cousteau's firsthand account of the Conshelf Two project, in which two men lived in an underwater habitat for a week. Cousteau was not one of the 'aquanauts,' but he and Calypso were directly involved in the whole experiment.

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The Undersea World

In the early 1970s, Cousteau wrote a series of books with several different co-authors, all under the collective title "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau." They're all similar in appearance: large hardcover or trade-paperback books full of excellent photographs and Cousteau's stories of encounters with marine life. Sadly, all of them are long out of print. As far as I can tell there were 8 books in this series, and I have all of them. At the end of this section you'll also find some other books that Cousteau wrote.

  • DIVING COMPANIONS: SEA LION, ELEPHANT SEAL, WALRUS
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & Philippe Diole
    Copyright:1974
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-89104-078-1
    Cousteau's accounts of encounters with three types of pinnipeds, including two captive-raised sea-lions.
  • DIVING FOR SUNKEN TREASURE
    Author: Cousteau and Diole
    Copyright:1971
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN:
    Cousteau's accounts of diving on shipwrecks looking for treasure.
  • LIFE AND DEATH IN A CORAL SEA
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & Philippe Diole
    Copyright:1971
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-89104-089-7
    In 1969 the Calypso set out on an expedition to explore the life of coral reefs in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. They dove at the Maldives, Aldabra, and a tiny island called Cosmoledo. This book covers what they did and what they found there. Especially fascinating is an account of gas-mix diving -- the use of gases other than regular air for diving, which lets divers dive deeper and stay longer, at a cost of much longer decompression times.
  • OCTOPUS AND SQUID: THE SOFT INTELLIGENCE
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & Philippe Diole
    Copyright:1973
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-89104-111-7
    All about cephalopods: octopi, squid, cuttlefish, deepwater squids, etc. Experiments that show intelligence in octopi.
  • SHARK, THE: SPLENDID SAVAGE OF THE SEAS
    Author: Cousteau, Jacques-Yves and Philippe
    Copyright:1970
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN:
    Cousteau's book about sharks, with the usual quality information and superb photographs.
  • WHALE, THE: MIGHTY MONARCH OF THE SEA
    Author: Cousteau, J-Y & Philippe Diole
    Copyright:1972
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-89104-077-3
    The Calypso crew's encounters with several kinds of great whales.
  • COUSTEAU'S GREAT WHITE SHARK
    Author: Cousteau, Jean-Michel
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0-8109-8134-3

  • JACQUES COUSTEAU: WHALES
    Author: Cousteau and Paccalet
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0-8109-1046-2

  • OCEAN WORLD, THE
    Author: Cousteau, Jacques-Yves
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0-8109-8068-1
    Encyclopedic summary of Cousteau's knowledge and beliefs of the oceans and their wildlife.

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Whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals

One subject I got interested in a long time ago was whales and dolphins. I don't know why -- maybe it's just their size and grace, or perhaps that they seem to be genuinely intelligent creatures. Whatever the reason, I'm interested, so I have a number of books about them. Some are already listed under the Cousteau books; others are listed here.

  • OBSERVATIONS: THE HUMPBACK WHALES OF STELLWAGEN BANK
    Author: Weinrich, Mason T.
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Whale Research Press
    ISBN:
    A study of the humpback whales of Stellwagen Bank, seen by millions of whale-watchers every year. Biology, lifestyle, individual profiles, and more.
  • WHALES, DOLPHINS & PORPOISES
    Author: Various
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: NGS
    ISBN: 0-7922-2952-5

  • WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND PORPOISES
    Author: Various
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Facts on File
    ISBN: 0-8160-1977-0
    Encyclopedic examination of the Cetacea, with profiles of all known living species and a look at their evolutionary history.
  • WHALES, PORPOISES, AND SEALS FROM CAPE COD TO NEWFOUNDLAND
    Author: Katona, Rough, Richardson
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Smithsonian Institution
    ISBN: 1-56098-333-7
    A field guide to the marine mammals of the North American coast from New England to Newfoundland. Personally, I think it's a bit large to be a practical field guide, but it makes an excellent home guide. It lists all the species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea-lions you might see while traveling in the coastal waters of northeastern North America.
  • WORLD'S WHALES, THE
    Author: Minasian, Balcomb, Foster
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Smithsonian Books
    ISBN: 0-89599-014-8

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Fishes and Other Marine Life

I have a variety of other books about the seas and ocean life.

  • ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS: True Tales from the Dry Dock Bar
    Author: Linda Greenlaw
    Copyright:2004
    Publisher: Hyperion
    ISBN: 1-4013-0070-7
    A compendium of sea stories from Linda Greenlaw.
  • CORAL REEF AT NIGHT, THE
    Author: Joseph Levine & Jeffrey Rotman
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0-8109-3190-7
    A collection of photographs and text about the world of a coral reef after dark.
  • FIRE UNDER THE SEA
    Author: Cone, Joseph
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Wm. Morrow & Co.
    ISBN: 0-688-09834-7
    A look at the discovery of deep-sea volcanic hot water vents and the strange lifeforms they support.
  • HUNGRY OCEAN, THE
    Author: Greenlaw, Linda
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Hyperion Books
    ISBN: 0-7868-8541-6
    Swordboats are boats that do longline fishing for swordfish in the deep waters just off the continental shelf. Linda Greenlaw is an experienced, veteran swordboat captain out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. For many years she was captain of the Hannah Boden, and widely considered one of the best swordboat skippers in the Gloucester fleet. A mention of her in Sebastian Junger's book The Perfect Storm brought her unlooked-for fame, and also inspired her to write this book. It's an account of an ordinary swordfishing trip aboard her boat, both the good and the bad aspects.
  • LOBSTER CHRONICLES, THE: Life on a Very Small Island
    Author: Greenlaw, Linda
    Copyright:2002
    Publisher: Hyperion Books
    ISBN: 0-7868-6677-2
    In 1996 Linda Greenlaw took a break from swordfishing and moved back to the place she grew up, the island of Isle au Haut in Penobscot Bay, Maine. There she tried her hand at lobstering. This book is her account of "a year in the life" on this very small island and very close-knit islander community.
  • SEA TURTLES
    Author: Ripple, Jeff
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Voyageur Press
    ISBN: 0-89658-315-5

  • SEASHORE LIFE BETWEEN THE TIDES
    Author: Crowder, William
    Copyright:1975
    Publisher: Dover Books
    ISBN: 0-486-23221-2

  • SEAWORTHY: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea
    Author: Linda Greenlaw
    Copyright:2010
    Publisher: Viking Books
    ISBN: 978-0-670-02-192-5
    After ten years trapping lobsters, Linda Greenlaw returned to swordboat fishing aboard a broken-down old boat called the Seahawk. Unfortunately, bad luck followed her back to sea, culminating in arrest and imprisonment for unintentionally breaking Canadian law in her swordfishing. This book is her story of her return to swordboat fishing.
  • SHARKS
    Author: Stevens, John D. (editor)
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Checkmark Books
    ISBN: 0-8160-3990-9

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Fishermen and fishing

Finally, I have a few books about fishermen and others who make their living on and from the sea. One thing I've found when I read some of these books is that there's an amazing amount of misinformation around about fishing as a business and as a way of life.

  • BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay
    Author: Warner, William
    Copyright:1976
    Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
    ISBN: 0-316-92326-5

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