Author(s): Victoria Dickenson
Reaktion Books | No Category
From swimming alongside our kayaks, canoes, coracles and boats to lurking alone in the shadowy waters of remote seas, seals have long interacted with humans and played a part in our history. Seal by Victoria Dickenson explores the natural and cultural history of an animal that has piqued and delighted human interest since ancient times, from their role in Roman spectacles to their frequent inhabitation of animal rescue centers today.Seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses are so distinctive that biologists have classified them as members of a single order, the Pinnipedia, yet our relationship with each distinctive seal species varies. We have for centuries hunted some seals for their skin, oil and meat. In the twentieth- and twenty-first century the hunt has become a focus for global protest, and the white-furred baby seal has evolved into one of the most powerful symbols for animal welfare. Some species, like the Mediterranean monk seal, are among the most endangered mammals in the world. Others, who live far from human habitation, number in the millions.The seals living closer to our societies have become wrapped in our myths and legends: there are tales of seals who have sought out human society, following the sound of children's voices, or the music of the pipe and flute; and there are darker stories of selkies and other seal-like creatures that take on human shape for purposes of both good and ill.
Richly illustrated and accessibly written, Seal offers an immersive view of a much-loved, storied creature.
Victoria Dickenson is a historian and curator based in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Drawn from Life: Science and Art in the Portrayal of the New World (1998) and Rabbit (Reaktion Books, 2013).