Salmon: A Scientific Memoir investigates a narrative that is important to the identity of the Pacific Northwest Coast—the salmon as an iconic species. Traditionally it’s been a narrative that is overwhelmingly about conflict. But is that always necessarily the case?
The story follows John Steinbeck’s advice: the best way to achieve reality is to combine narrative with scientific data. By following ecologists, archaeologists and fisheries biologists studying salmon, humans and their shared habitat, the reader learns about the fish through the eyes of scientists in the field.
Each chapter focuses on a portion of the salmon’s journey to and from their natal streams; on one of the five Pacific salmon species most commercially important to North Americans; and on the different ways scientists study the fish. It’s also about the scientific journey of ecologists, archaeologists and fisheries biologists and how the labs gathering data today echo coastal indigenous people who have harvested salmon successfully since the end of the last ice age. Each group established a reciprocal economic system, one that revolves around community and knowledge, a system with straightforward rules, sometimes as simple as “you get what you give.”
About the author
Jude Isabella has been a journalist for over 20 years, focusing on science, health and the environment. She writes for a diverse audience, from grownups interested in archaeology to young readers interested in space. Jude has written five science books for kids, including Fantastic Feats and Failure, which won the prestigious American Institute of Physics Award. She spent three years researching Salmon and marine biodiversity on Canada's west coast for her master of arts degree in anthropology and writing, resulting in this book. After a dozen or so field trips, she can remove otoliths from juvenile salmon and clean her face in the bush without soap. One of her goals as a science writer is to educate readers that to be human does not mean being hardwired to destroy the environment. There is hope! Jude lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Inspired by John Steinbeck, journalist Jude Isabella combines narrative and knowledge in a well-crafted and informative ode to the Pacific coast. Her accounts of salmon, science and history are drawn from her studies and from experience, especially time spent travelling along the coast, working with scientists and others who know it well.—Stephen Bocking, BC Studies
I should say that as nerd-riffic as Salmon is, it's also a chatty, appealing book about the people engaged in figuring out the past and future of fish in BC, and about the kinds of places that most of us don't ever get to visit. Isabella has a great eye for character, and so this book has more in common with books like Terry Glavin's The Last Great Sea than it does with the academic work of the researchers she travels with.... Recommended for all shades of eco-nerds, fish-eaters, and place-lovers!—Book Addiction