A broad, insightful exploration of the Golden State’s pristine coastline and its social and ecological impact on the nation.
Award-winning journalist and environmental documentarian Helvarg (Saved By the Sea: A Love Story with Fish, 2010, etc.) incorporates his work as an ocean conservationist into this examination of the California coast. There’s a distinct passion evident in the author’s language as he writes about his home state, a populous land boasting more than 1,000 miles of “urban ocean and hidden wilderness coves, precipitous coastal cliffs, sea stacks and wild beaches.” Conveyed through interviews with commercial fishermen and scientists and excursions up and down the coast, Helvarg enthusiastically probes the heritage of California’s coastal tribes, its whaling and surfing legacies, and its vital symbiosis with the U.S. Navy—a fact, he writes, that many Southern Californians overlook. The author’s research included early morning excursions aboard marine container ships, diving boats and underwater exploratory science vessels, and he accompanied the San Diego Coast Guard’s nightly migrant patrol to scan for smugglers. Helvarg avoids debating the more usurious aspects of the California lifestyle in favor of praising its “biological richness and diversity, a hallmark of its coast and climate.” The author creates a detailed, handsome history lesson annotated with authoritative commentary on waterside conservation and preservation and climate awareness. In a cautionary final chapter, Helvarg warns of rising sea levels, a genuine ecological menace threatening the beauty and significance of California’s coastal landscapes.
A lush, labor-of-love appreciation of maritime California.