$5 – $10

Jeffrey Bolster and The Mortal Sea

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Cape Ann Museum

27 Pleasant Street

Gloucester, MA 01930

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A talk by Jeffrey Bolster, author of The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Harvard University Press, 2012). This program is $5 CAM members/ $10 non-members. Registration required. For more information please call (978)283-0455 x10 or email info@capeannmuseum.org.



About The Mortal Sea, from Harvard University Press:

Since the Viking ascendancy in the Middle Ages, the Atlantic has shaped the lives of people who depend upon it for survival. And just as surely, people have shaped the Atlantic. In his innovative account of this interdependency, W. Jeffrey Bolster, a historian and professional seafarer, takes us through a millennium-long environmental history of our impact on one of the largest ecosystems in the world.

While overfishing is often thought of as a contemporary problem, Bolster reveals that humans were transforming the sea long before factory trawlers turned fishing from a handliner’s art into an industrial enterprise. The western Atlantic’s legendary fishing banks, stretching from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, have attracted fishermen for more than five hundred years. Bolster follows the effects of this siren’s song from its medieval European origins to the advent of industrialized fishing in American waters at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Blending marine biology, ecological insight, and a remarkable cast of characters, from notable explorers to scientists to an army of unknown fishermen, Bolster tells a story that is both ecological and human: the prelude to an environmental disaster. Over generations, harvesters created a quiet catastrophe as the sea could no longer renew itself. Bolster writes in the hope that the intimate relationship humans have long had with the ocean, and the species that live within it, can be restored for future generations.


Note: This lecture was originially scheduled for Saturday, February 18, 2017 but was postponed due to illness. The rescheduled date is Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm.


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Cape Ann Museum

27 Pleasant Street

Gloucester, MA 01930

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