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The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean (P.S.) [Paperback]

Trevor Corson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 8.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean (P.S.) + Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid + Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555597
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 14.4 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Secret Life of Lobsters In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and an eccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Revor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine, to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters. Full description

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The oceans of the earth abound with lobsters. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I don't think we're going to see a decline..." 13 Jun 2004
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
For anyone with an interest in Maine lobsters which goes beyond the plastic bibs and melted butter, this is the "Everything You Always Wanted to Know..." resource. After spending two years aboard commercial lobster boats, meeting scientists dedicated to conserving the lobster as a natural resource, and studying the research about the lobster's habitat, breeding habits, and possible endangerment, author Trevor Corson has produced a highly readable, balanced account of what is happening in the industry and the remarkable co-operation which has evolved between some lobstermen and scientists.
Little Cranberry Island, off the coast of Maine, not far from Canada, is a lobstering community with the perfect lobster habitat just off its coast, its lobstermen as concerned about preserving their livelihoods for the future as are scientists (many working for the government) about protecting the coast from "over-fishing." Until recently, however, the two groups had not pooled their knowledge, and scientists had not done enough on-site studies of how and where the lobsters live and breed and what constitutes the true threats to their continued existence. No one on either side really knew whether cyclical declines in the number of pounds caught were natural or induced by man.
Concentrating on the roles of individuals on the island and noted scientists engaged in unusual research, humanizing all of them and describing their day-to-day lives, Corson delves into seemingly arcane subjects, such as the lobster's mating rituals, molting and its effects, battles for territory (both by lobsters and fishermen), ocean currents that carry lobster larvae, natural "lobster nurseries," and the role of the extremely large lobsters which sometimes live in very deep water.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lobsters.... who knew?!?! 22 Oct 2007
By Julie
Format:Paperback
First, i want to make it clear that before i bought this book, i had never given lobsters a second thought, except to say "no, i'll never eat one, thank-you". but whilst on hols in America i was killing time in barnes & noble looking for something different to read and just happened to pick this book up. i loved it!! so much so that i'll say it again. i loved it!! don't ask me why, all i can say is, lobsters are fascinating creatures! and what lobster men & women go through for their trade is fascinating. i am not in any way affiliated with the ocean, but this book grabbed my attention and held it right through until the end. i read it about a year ago, and still remember every chapter. friends and family are forced to listen to me rattle off useless facts about lobsters anytime they come up in conversation!

I don't know how else to put it... this book just just caught my eye, and i loved every minute reading it and love it still. If your looking for something different to read, I would highly recommend it.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I don't think we're going to see a decline..." 2 Jun 2004
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For anyone with an interest in Maine lobsters which goes beyond the plastic bibs and melted butter, this is the "Everything You Always Wanted to Know..." resource. After spending two years aboard commercial lobster boats, meeting scientists dedicated to conserving the lobster as a natural resource, and studying the research about the lobster's habitat, breeding habits, and possible endangerment, author Trevor Corson has produced a highly readable, balanced account of what is happening in the industry and the remarkable co-operation which has evolved between some lobstermen and scientists.
Little Cranberry Island, just south of Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park in Maine, is a lobstering community with the perfect lobster habitat just off its coast, its lobstermen as concerned about preserving their livelihoods for the future as are scientists (many working for the government) about protecting the coast from "over-fishing." Until recently, however, the two groups had not pooled their knowledge, and scientists had not done enough on-site studies of how and where the lobsters live and breed and what constitutes the true threats to their continued existence. No one on either side really knew whether cyclical declines in the number of pounds caught were natural or induced by man.
Concentrating on the roles of individuals on the island and noted scientists engaged in unusual research, humanizing all of them and describing their day-to-day lives, Corson delves into seemingly arcane subjects, such as the lobster's mating rituals, molting and its effects, battles for territory (both by lobsters and fishermen), ocean currents that carry lobster larvae, natural "lobster nurseries," and the role of the extremely large lobsters which sometimes live in very deep water. The book is entertaining, and in a few cases humorous (a discussion of lobster courtship juxtaposed against the courtship of a lobsterman), but it is uncompromising in its attention to serious research and what has been discovered about the lobster's life cycle. Filled with insights into how and why scientists, lobstermen, the government, and the lobsters themselves all continue to behave as they do, this well-written account is accessible to scientists and laymen alike. Mary Whipple
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Glimpse of Lobsters' Hidden Habits and Habitats 27 Jun 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have to admit that I was predisposed not to like Trevor Corson's THE SECRET LIFE OF LOBSTERS. I know that I like to eat lobsters, that I prefer not to cook them myself, and that I need to have someone else help me crack the claws open to get out the meat. That's about all I ever knew, or cared to know, about lobsters before reading this book. I was skeptical that someone could actually write a whole book about lobsters, let alone that I would want to read it. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this nonfiction book that is part scientific mystery, part adventure story, and even part romance.
There are two main groups of human characters in Corson's book. One group is the lobstermen of Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. These rugged men, many of whose families have been lobstering for generations, work incredibly hard and understand more about lobsters than just about anyone. They're also surprisingly complex folks, some of whom hold degrees in economics or marine biology or who dabble in painting.
The other group is the scientists who are dedicated to understanding lobster habitats and behavior in the hopes of swelling their population. These scientists alternate between skepticism of the lobstermen's own theories for ensuring a healthy lobster population and grudging respect for the lobstermen's time-tested methods. The scientists are a quirky bunch, too. One fellow plays a flute made out of a lobster claw, and one scientist becomes a waitress --- at a lobster restaurant --- because it's the only job that gives her enough flexibility to conduct her research. In many ways, THE SECRET LIFE OF LOBSTERS is an account of how these two groups, often at odds with one another, work over a period of years to discover why --- and if --- the lobster population is declining.
The third subject of Corson's book is the lobsters themselves. Corson probes the creatures' habitat, their development, and even their sex lives in minute detail. These sometimes violent and graphic descriptions of lobsters' behavior are broken up into short segments, alternating with accounts of the humans' own dramas. This technique helps keep the reader from growing overwhelmed by the amount of information presented. Occasionally, the author tries a little too hard to draw explicit analogies between the lobsters and their human counterparts ("Jack was a bit like a large lobster himself."). The text is most successful when it allows readers to discover the parallels for themselves.
These connections are rich, though, and the mystery of the lobsters' survival is compelling. Even if Corson's book doesn't answer all the questions it poses, it will make you appreciate your next lobster dinner --- and the people who helped bring it to you --- in a whole new way.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great sleeper 11 July 2005
By CS Parmelee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dust cover makes the book look old and worn, but this up-to-date book has astonishing new information, even for someone who has known about lobsters for decades. You won't believe the life of these interesting critters down at the bottom of the cold sea!

But the story is almost equally about the scientists who study the lobsters and their stories are fun and interesting too.

This book kept me turning the pages and chapters to find out more about the personalities under water and the guys on the surface.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read. I really enjoyed this book. 27 Nov 2005
By J. Fraser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a recreational lobstermen myself, I became really interested in the critter. My kids enjoy seeing what comes up in the traps and we can only imagine what takes place down there when you see a 4# lobster with only one claw and the other is in the midst of regeneration. We talk about them for hours.

This book sheds some fascinating facts and observations as well as a few funny stories. It even casues one to reflect on some "people-behavior" from a different perspective, as in some cases it is similar to the lobsters. Great stories and nice supporting web site.

Sorry I missed the author at my local favorite bookshop last summer. Will catch him in 05' at a nearby bookseller. Best book I read in quite some time.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love lobster and love this book 23 May 2005
By Sheryl Katz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lobster is my "favorite" food. As a child my mother would always say that lobster was the most festive meal. We didn't have it often, but emotionally it took on great significance.

That's why I picked up this book to read. It also happens that I love to read natural history, travel stories, and non fiction essays. "Secret Life of Lobsters" did not disappoint. Others have mentioned John McPhee, and this book certainly evokes his writing. It intertwines the lives of the fishermen, the ecology and behavior of lobsters, and the lives of the scientists who study the lobsters. It reads with the suspense and pull of a detective novel. My only criticism is that it does not follow a linear chronology and involves a myriad of characters; at time the threads become hard to follow.

Someone criticized this book for being pro-industry propaganda. I seriously disagree. Yes, the government scientists are portrayed as basing their decisions on prejudice and a lack of information. I personally spent 10 years in the government, 5 of them as an attorney for the Department of the Interior, and I think the portrayal of the government scientists is pretty accurate. I do think though that it's unlikely that all lobster fishermen are quite as thoughtful about conservation or as scrupulous as the protagonists in this book. Overall though I think this book is a great read, and if you like natural history books you will not be disappointed.
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