THE FLYING SEA OTTERS by George & Ellen Laycock


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Featuring what one photograph labels ""the new kind of hunter"" -- professional wildlife managers -- this restrained documentary traces the capture and relocation of a mother sea otter and her pup. As compared with the predatory fur-trading of centuries past, today's restorative work is ecology-conscious and emphatically virtuous despite the temporary fright to the victim/beneficiaries. Subordinated, however, is the projection of otter-life -- i.e., of the curious otter-characteristics: why, first of all, flying? how does the breathing mechanism operate to enable the mammal to flourish in water? what, besides habitat, distinguishes the sea-otter from otters generally? how is it specially suited to survive? The Laycocks describe the protection from cold provided by the unusual fatless covering, they contrast it to whale- and porpoise-provisions, they derive from it the basis for the sea-otter's instinctive coat-cleaning. But few other doings peculiar to or typical of the creature receive such coherent treatment, while space -- and perhaps, unfortunately, attention -- is lost at the outset where wind and frothy white waves are extolled unduly. Because of the concentration on motives and means for preserving the species, the book is not quite the kind of introduction suggested by the title; nevertheless, in its importantly symbolic way, it is a good kind -- and profusely illustrated with in situ pictures.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1971
Publisher: Norton--Grosset & Dunlap