Tuna: A Love Story (Hardcover)
A Love Story
Knopf, 9780307267153, 352pp.
Publication Date: July 15, 2008
The author of The Book of Sharks, Imagining Atlantis, and Encyclopedia of the Sea turns his gaze to the tuna—one of the biggest, fastest, and most highly evolved marine animals and the source of some of the world’s most popular delicacies—now hovering on the brink of extinction. In recent years, the tuna’s place on our palates has come under scrutiny, as we grow increasingly aware of our own health and the health of our planet. Here, Ellis explains how a fish that was once able to thrive has become a commodity, in a book that shows how the natural world and the global economy converge on our plates.
The longest migrator of any fish species, an Atlantic northern bluefin can travel from New England to the Mediterranean, then turn around and swim back; in the Pacific, the northern bluefin can make a round-trip journey from California to Japan. The fish can weigh in at 1,500 pounds and, in an instant, pick up speed to fifty-five miles per hour.
But today the fish is the target of the insatiable sushi market, particularly in Japan, where an individual piece can go for seventy-five dollars. Ellis introduces us to the high-stakes world of “tuna ranches,” where large schools of half-grown tuna are caught in floating corrals and held in pens before being fattened, killed, gutted, frozen, and shipped to the Asian market. Once on the brink of bankruptcy, the world’s tuna ranches—in Australia, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and North Africa—have become multimillion-dollar enterprises. Experts warn that the fish are dying out and environmentalists lobby for stricter controls, while entire coastal ecosystems are under threat. The extinction of the tuna would mean not only the end of several species but dangerous consequences for the earth as a whole.
In the tradition of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod, John Cole’s Striper, John Hersey’s Blues—and of course, Ellis’s own Great White Shark—this book will forever change the way we think about fish and fishing.
About the Author
Praise For Tuna: A Love Story…
"An artful, detailed account of the tuna, and an entreaty that this not be its swan song."
"Timely, balanced, and passionate."
"With all the authority and grace for which his writings are renowned, Richard Ellis offers up an impassioned plea to protect and save one of the deep ocean's loveliest creatures. His scrupulously considered view--that our very modern craving for sushi and sashimi have caused us to love the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna unwisely and much too well--needs to be firmly remembered."
--Simon Winchester, author of The Map that Changed the World
"If there is any hope for the endangered, majestic bluefin, it lies in Richard Ellis's extensively researched, carefully written, and beautifully illustrated call to action."
--John McCosker, Chair of Aquatic Biology, California Academy of Sciences
"Our foremost contemporary ocean chronicler, Richard Ellis, offers here an impassioned plea to consider the grandeur–and the tragic demise–of the swiftest, strongest fish that migrate across our water planet. While fully documenting the unique biology and fascinating history of the tuna species, Ellis casts clear light on the practice of 'tuna ranching' aimed at keeping humans sushi-supplied despite the disappearance of wild bluefin populations. This is nature writing at its best, from the heart."
–Dick Russell, author of Eye of the Whale and Striper Wars
"Richard Ellis is surely the most vivid, thoughtful and loving recorder of the splendors and travails of the ocean. This time he has cast his net wide and come up with a riveting story of the heartless destruction of the 'wildest, fastest, most powerful fish in the sea.' This glorious, angry book made me weep, but gave me a lot of insight and even a ray of hope."
--Joe MacInnis, author of Breathing Underwater: The Quest to Live in the Sea
"Richard Ellis has long been the indisputable champion among writers of the sea and its creatures. In Tuna: A Love Story, his best book yet, he takes us from the succulent red square of maguro to the tragic truth about giant bluefin tuna that will forever change the way we order a meal in a sushi bar."
--Brad Matsen, author of Fishing up North: Stories of Luck and Loss in Alaskan Waters
"Eminently readable and reliably authoritative, Tuna: A Love Story, is one of the best 'single'-fish species books ever written."
–Tim M. Berra, author of Freshwater Fish Distribution
"By far, the most comprehensive, documented and balanced analysis on the fate of Tuna I have read so far."
–Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi, CEO, Advanced Tuna Ranching Technologies