Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Species Threatened by the Oil Spill
Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week we're recommending books about animals threatened by the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
Crawfishes of Louisiana (by Jerry G. Walls, $28, Louisiana State University Press, Apr. 2009): This book functions as a field guide to Louisiana's 39 species of crawfish, but the author doesn’t neglect the crustaceans’ significance in the state’s history and culture. As he explains, crawfish (called “crayfish” in most scientific writing) are both a crucial part of the Louisiana freshwater ecosystem and an important seafood export. The creatures are very sensitive to pollution and BP's oil spill is likely to decrease their numbers considerably.Encounters with Florida’s Endangered Wildlife (by Doug Alderson, $25, University Press of Florida, May 2010): Florida is home to more than 100 threatened or endangered species including sea turtles and marsh-dwelling manatees. Florida native Doug Alderson pursued conservationists across his vast state; the outcome was this intelligent narrative that conveys the importance of retaining the state’s remarkable biodiversity in the wake of urban sprawl, climate change, extermination, and pollution.
Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia (by Jeffrey C. Beane, et al., $25, University of North Carolina Press, Apr. 2010): Though the oil slick is currently just in the Gulf, scientists predict that it may soon migrate around the tip of Florida and up the East Coast. Abundant amphibians and reptiles inhabit coastline that spans the Carolinas and Virginia, and this book serves as a comprehensive guide to nearly 200 regional species of salamanders, frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes. For easy identification, each animal’s page provides a detailed description and a high-gloss photo. Particularly susceptible to the oil slick are the mud salamanders and ground skinks, which inhabit the seaboard’s coastal plain.
The Shark and the Jellyfish: More Stories in Natural History (by Stephen Daubert, $25, Vanderbilt University Press, July 2009): The sequel to critically acclaimed Threads from the Web of Life is comprised of a series of creative-nonfiction stories that follow creatures of all shapes and sizes – from spiders and sturgeons to Peregrine falcons and beavers – on their constant quests for survival in the wild. Daubert’s prose is beautifully written without sacrificing important biological details, so readers come away with awe and great respect for the natural world's wonders.