August 25, 2016

Project Seahorse by Pamela S. Turner

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:52 pm by suebe2

project_seahorse_final_smlProject Seahorse
by Pamela S. Turner
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Digoy swims across the reef.  He uses no scuba tank or snorkel.  The only light comes from the kerosene lantern on his boat.  He is looking for sea horses.

For years fisherman in the Philipines have searched out hard-to-find sea horses.  While people don’t eat these curious animals, they want them for other reasons. Some people want to keep them in home aquariums, gathering round to gaze at the prehistoric looking animals.  Others wear them in jewelry and display them in decorations.  Still others grind them up and use them in medicines.

But Digoy doesn’t keep the seahorse.  He is one of the fisherman working to preserve the world’s reefs and the many fish these habitats support.

Turner shares a wealth of seahorse information for curious young readers (males are the ones that carry the unborn fish) but the book is so much more.  It describes Project Seahorse a conservation effort that encourages local people to preserve reefs.  Coral reefs provide shelter for many ocean fish.  Save the reef and the fish that live around it in one area and soon nearby areas also benefit.

But Amanda Vincent and Heather Koldeway, the scientists working on this project aren’t naive.  They know that the people need to support their families.  They don’t want them to stop fishing altogether but instead help develop guidelines that allow the people to make a living while also preserving the wildlife.  Through this project, local people replant mangrove trees which provide shelter for young fish.

Most of the books in this series, Scientists in the Field, focus on the animal in question. While Turners book gives plenty of information about sea horses, it also gives information on the complex web of environments and natural resources that impact the lives of the sea horses, other marine life and even the people who live in the Philippines.

This books makes an excellent stepping off point for conversations about ecology and preservation as well as the animals themselves.  Be prepared for some lengthy conversations.


November 20, 2014

A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts by Pamela S. Turner

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:05 am by suebe2

A Life in the Wild:
George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts
by Pamela S. Turner
Melanie Kroupa Books

For those not familiar with Schaller’s name, he is a pioneer in animal studies and conservation.  Schaller was among the earliest scientists to study a variety of wild animals without shooting and skinning them.  Instead, he observed them closely and studied their environment.  He got to know the other animals that shared their world and noted how a balance kept them and the countryside healthier.

The first great beast that Schaller studied was the gorilla.  Sitting near the animals, watching them interact and feed, Schaller discovered that they weren’t the dangerous, violent monsters people believed them to be.

Next he studied tigers in India, even coming face-to-face with a tigress and sitting up in a tree while several young tigers lounged around the base.  He learned how much game tigers took and how they supplemented this with livestock.  He studied how much land each animal needed and how these creatures, called loners, crossed paths and interacted.

From lions to snow leopards and pandas to wild antelope and asses, he learned that to ensure that these animals would exist for future observers to study, he had to devote time to conservation, encouraging people and governments to set land aside for the use of animals alone.

Turner’s book tells a lot about Schaller’s science but the tone is conversational and easy to digest.  The book comes in at just under 100 pages.  Less able readers could easily focus on one chapter while rabid readers will find themselves turning page after page and reading the entire book.  This would make an excellent gift for your future scientist or your wild life lover.


November 11, 2013

The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner, photos by Scott Tuason

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:41 am by suebe2

The Dolphins of Shark Bay
by Pamela S. Turner,
photos by Scott Tuason
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Scientists in the Field Series

We’ve heard it before — dolphins are smart, but how smart becomes obvious when you read this book and learn about dolphins using tools and various mothers teaching specialized hunting techniques to their daughters.

For over 25 years, scientist Janet Mann and her colleagues have studied the wild dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia.  Shark Bay is a unique ecosystem and attracts a larger number of dolphins than anywhere else.  Because of this, there are often numerous scientists there as well as fishermen and tourists.  It is thus essential to learn how human interaction effects dolphins.

Mann and her colleagues have seen how interactions with humans can alter dolphin behavior, often for the worse.  They have also seen how interactions with other dolphins alter dolphin behavior.  It all depends on whether or not the dolphin is the same gender, a relative or a higher ranking animal.

With chapters on dolphin families, dolphin communication, dolphin feeding techniques and more, readers will definitely learn about dolphins.  They will also learn about how scientists, especially scientists in the field, work.  

I can sit and watch dolphins swim for hours, but I was still surprised by how completely this book enthralled me.  The reality is that I’m just not nuts about water and dolphins are pretty deeply involved in this particular element.  That said, animals and animal behavior interests me, especially as it relates to learning and passing this knowledge from one animal to another.

Whether the reader in your life loves dolphins in particular or simply science or the ocean, consider this book with the wealth of information and inspiration that it brings.


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