THE VOYAGE OF THE SANDERLING: Exploring the Ecology of the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Rio by Roger D. Stone

THE VOYAGE OF THE SANDERLING: Exploring the Ecology of the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Rio

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Here, the author of Dreams of Amazonia (1984) consolidates his expertise as former chief of Rio de Janeiro's Time-Life Bureau, current vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, and amateur yachtsman to produce a rather scattered ecological survey of the Atlantic coasts of North and South America. Stone's ambitious plan to compile a portrait of the Americas' ecologically beleaguered eastern coastline from the seaward side came to fruition in 1986--when he climbed aboard a donated 38-foot cutter and rechristened it ""Sanderling,"" after the light-tooted sandpiper endemic to those beaches. The sanderling proves an all-too-appropriate image as Stone skitters from port to port, identifying which pollutants are dumped into the harbors, rivers, and bays but without satisfyingly analyzing or interpreting this data. His journey--which begins in tourist-threatened Castine, Maine, continues down the Eastern Seaboard to ecologically disastrous Florida, detours to the overdeveloped Caribbean Islands, and winds up in Rio's sewer-like Guanabara Bay--is largely overshadowed by his obsession with the Sanderling's erratic engine, and results in little more than a mild-mannered statement of the obvious: our natural coastline is being steadily destroyed up and down the Atlantic. While in parts of the US and the Caribbean, dedicated local citizens' groups, government intervention, and nature's own ability to bounce back are beginning to slow the pace of destruction, Brazil's economic woes--plus its lack of sufficient national-level organization to handle diffuse problems such as acid rain--offer little hope that that country's wetlands will ever be returned to their original state. One would have wished for more insightful reportage from such a qualified source. As it is, this coastal saga may prove more useful to leisure-time sailors than to serious students of ecology.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1989
Publisher: Knopf