Alfred A. Knopf (1968). Index. 261pp. 5.875 x 8.5 inches. Hardcover. Illustrated by Ingrid Nicoll: 25 pen-and-ink drawings. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs.
Where does a Washington, D.C., zoologist studying barnacles get his specimens, or an Ohio medical school staff engaged in cancer research find anomalous fishes with tumors? How does a Chicago biochemist procure sharks' livers to pursue his study of certain trigger mechanisms of nitrogen metabolism?
In situations such as these, scientific researchers rely on the services of a man like Jack Rudloe, a professional biological collector. But as he demonstrates in this book about his work, Jack Rudloe has a talent not vouchsafed to many specimen collectors: he is a most engaging and entertaining writer as well. And his special talent lies in his awareness that with all the exotic creatures of the Atlantic's and Gulf's estuaries, shorelines, and ocean deeps to write about, the most interesting of these “exotics” are men.
Poaches as well as green turtles, skilled sailors as well as batfish, seafaring philosophers as well as sea robins are the characters in Jack Rudloe's lively book. The reader soon comes to feel that he too has a stake in the varied commercial efforts of the author-collector and his friends, a fine collection of shrimpers, crabbers, and other fishermen — the men whose nets are gleaned by Jack Rudloe for “trash” creatures useful to him but worthless to them. In this book it's an ill wind indeed that doesn't blow some good to someone — the fisherman, the collector, or at least the entranced and fascinated reader.
Mr. Rudloe's collecting adventures with giant cockles, sea pansies, blood clams, lugworms, starfish, conchs, sharks, scallops, crabs, and sea cucumbers are exciting, but his trials and errors in his laboratory as he learned to handle, pack, and ship such a potpourri of creatures are equally fascinating. A carton filled with dry ice or a crude crate stuffed with eelgrass may do for shipping some critters, but the collector found he needed all his imagination and ingenuity if certain delicate animals — such as, surprising, sharks — were to survive their journey to distant researchers. Even the preservation of dead specimens was not always a simple matter.
The collecting experiences, the shipping of specimens, interesting insights into the life histories of strange animals, the humor of the people who are the author's friends, and the grab-bag gamble of their lives make this an extraordinary nature book. As the story of a young man in business, it is a record of adventurous entrepreneurship as well. The Sea Brings Forth has brought forth a brand-new nature writer who will find many admirers for this book and for future books about other scientific adventures.
At twenty-four, Jack Rudloe runs a successful business of his own, has had the first scientific article he ever wrote published by Scientific American, has written a soon-to-be-published textbook on scientific specimen-collecting and has joined a distinguished company of Borzoi nature writers with this book. Born in New York, he studed at Florida State University and is adding to his considerable knowledge of marine biology through self-education. Mr. Rudloe's biography is short but his attainments are already long. He is well known among research laboratories and college and university biology departments the country over. His Gulf Specimen Company makes available a wide variety of saltwater specimens used in scientific research and education. Mr. Rudloe lives in Panacea, Florida, but his collecting expeditions take him up and down the state's coasts. In 1963-64 he was a member of the International Indian Ocean Expedition to Madagascar.
Jacket photograph of hammerhead shark is by Russ Kinne. Jacket design is by Winston Potter. Illustrations are by Ingrid Niccoll.
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