This is a series of sketches about marine life and some unusual mariners in and around present-day New York City. Written in a tone of nostalgia, relying to a great extent on human interest appeal, the result is a skillful blending of natural history, social comment and the personal profile. The book might be compared to a combination of John Kiernan's recent A Natural History of New York and Meyer Berger. The author traces the origins of Sloppy Louie's sea food restaurant at 92 South Street -- the main street in the Fulton Fish Market; discusses the composition of New York Harbor; the rat menace on the waterfront and in some surprising areas within the city; and he laments the decline of the oyster industry on Staten Island's southern shore -- once a thriving community founded before the Civil War by some free Negroes who came from the eastern shore of Maryland to work the oyster beds. There is a lengthy description of the dragger fishing fleet which works out of Stonington, Connecticut in Fishers Island Sound, and of their most enterprising and respected captain -- Ellery Thompson who is both oceanographer and amateur painter. He ends with an account of shadfishing and the rivermen in Edgewater, New Jersey -- across the Hudson River from the upper west side of Manhattan. Entertaining and painlessly informative.