Tuna: A Love Story

Warm-blooded, topping out at 1,500 pounds, and able to swim faster than 50 miles an hour, tuna captured the imagination of fisherman long before the advent of Charlie Tuna or the sushi bar. To the ancient Phoenicians, who caught them in vast cities of nets, they were as important as the buffalo was to the American Indian; today, American consumers eat more than one billion pounds of canned tuna per year. In Tuna: A Love Story, Richard Ellis describes the ways of these sleek, ceaselessly wandering creatures and the fishermen who catch them by hook or net (or, currently, raise them to market size in pens called "tuna ranches" in the open sea). Ellis exhaustively documents the toll commercial fishing takes on wild populations of tuna -- especially the remarkable bluefin, largest of the several tuna species and focus of the sushi trade. Swimming in all the planet's oceans, bluefin are apex predators whose disappearance would upset open-ocean ecosystems worldwide. Meanwhile, rising mercury levels in tuna flesh -- a measure of increasing ocean pollution -- threaten to render this important protein source inedible. Ellis not only fears for the state of the seas and human health but for the fate of this majestic creature -- and on the savagery that takes place far out to sea beyond the consumer's gaze, he is unsparing: "Seeing a bluefin tuna gaffed with spears," he writes, "is like seeing a thoroughbred racehorse being hacked to death with an ax."

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.