“This is a delightful work with the urgency of a good detective story.” —Thomas McGuane
“I loved it! A beautiful adventure story of one of the most wide-spread and least-known but ecologically important fish.” —Bernd Heinrich, author of Summer World
Famous for his deeply informed, compulsively readable books on trout, writer-painter James Prosek (whom the New York Times has called “the Audubon of the fishing world”) takes on nature’s quirkiest and most enigmatic fish: the eel. Fans of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and The Big Oyster or Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters will love Prosek’s probing exploration of the hidden deep-water dwellers. With characteristically captivating prose and lavish illustrations, Prosek demystifies the eel’s unique biology and bizarre mating routines, and illuminates the animal’s varied roles in the folklore, cuisine, and commerce of a variety of cultures.
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They are the only fish that spawn in the middle of the ocean but spend their adult lives in freshwater. They can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and even cross over land. They are revered as guardians and monster-seducers by New Zealand’s Maori and have inspired origin myths throughout the Pacific Islands. Often viewed with disgust in the West, they are a multibillion-dollar business in the Asian food market. And they are often mistaken for snakes. They are eels—one of the world’smost amazing and least understood fish. (Yes, fish.)
James Prosek offers a fascinating tour through the life history and cultural associations of the freshwater eel, exploring its biology in streams and epic migrations in the ocean, its myth and lore, its mystery and beauty. Prosek travels the globe to tell the story of the eel—from New York to New Zealand; from Europe to Japan and the small island of Pohnpei in Micronesia, where freshwater eels are worshipped by members of the eel clan. Along the way he introduces individuals whose lives are most connected with the eels’ story—including fishermen, conservationists, and scientists seeking to uncover the eels’ elusive home in the Sargasso Sea and their spawning places in other oceans of the world. Though freshwater eels have been here for hundreds of millions of years, populations are rapidly declining, due largely to dams, overfishing, pollution, and perhaps even global climate change.
Illustrated with original etchings by the author, Eels is a mesmerizing biography and history of this intriguing and mysterious creature. It is also a telling look at humanity, the will to persist, and the ever-changing relationship between man and the natural world.About the Author:
James Prosek is a writer and artist. Dubbed “the Audubon of the fishing world” by the New York Times, his books include Trout, The Complete Angler, and Fly-Fishing the 41st. He lives in Easton, Connecticut.
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