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Excerpt: "The Mortal Sea" by W. Jeffrey Bolster

Excerpt: "The Mortal Sea" by W. Jeffrey Bolster

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Published by Sam Gale Rosen
From THE MORTAL SEA by W. Jeffrey Bolster. Copyright © 2012 by the President
and Fellows of Harvard College. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
From THE MORTAL SEA by W. Jeffrey Bolster. Copyright © 2012 by the President
and Fellows of Harvard College. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Published by: Sam Gale Rosen on Apr 09, 2013
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08/16/2013

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Prologue
Th Histic Ocan
H [mankind] cannt cnt  chan th can as, inhis bi tnancy  ath, h has sbdd and pnddth cntinnts.
—Rach Casn,
The Sea Around Us
(1951)
O
n ca, dy days in th a  sai, with sh cmin v th ai, th cast  nthn Nw Enand and Atantic Canada cd cham th mst hadndshman. Gn-cappd isands and ban dak cks, ach it nd bywatin stips  ivin whit banacs and ind with mstad-hdbadd wack, ptdd m wats tmin with i. Ofsh, daintypts skimmd th sac pckin tiny invtbats m th sa, whiwhit annts with six-t winspans pnd int th schs  baitsh nwhich cd thivd. Vast amis  ppiss, th hsmn  th sa, acdacss th sac ik cavay in acss a pain. And vy cd yankdncmnisy m th hk had, as shmn said, a cin in its mth.Sti, whn th wind vd t th nthast and th sky csd with th sa,th stnnin pdctivity  that csystm cam with a pic.Ha-tid ds kd  th nway in ths sh-ich sas. In that cknvinmnt, wh a apidy ain bamt bht a-c winds andship-kiin wavs,  cd dc a skipp’s wd within mints t a
 
2
PROLOGUE
hazy cic ny th wavs wid. Hcs Hnkin, a Cnish immiant tNw Enand, knw that ay sa in its mds din th 1650s as h hand-ind na Nw Hampshi’s Iss  Shas m a stty pankd shap.Th captains  ac Fdnia schns, sch as th
 Ef e M. Morrissey,
 wh dy-tawd  cd n th fsh banks and 1900, and naddthi satd as at Bstn’s T Wha, knw it intimaty as w. F cntisth cnstancy  th thats mant that tim-tstd tins idd ths whdad t wst a ivin m th tmpsts Nth Atantic. Taditin dt-mind th apppiat bam  a bat  a ctain nth. Taditin in-ncd hw a man st his a, and which jis h pickd  handinin n aivn bank in a spcic sasn. Smtims ths taditins kpt shmnaiv in thi dans cain.Taditin w th acs an th cast. F cntis, m Cap Cdt Nwndand th tn  sh, bids, and main mammas—ach inthi sasn—spakd qit jicin in shin twns and tpt vias.Many  ths cmmnitis had w cnmic atnativs t havstin thsa, and shin k chs t biv that th sa wd pvid v. Thatbi dvtaid with th attitd  nataists and scintists, wh tn in-sistd, at ast nti th mid-twntith cnty, that th sa was tna andnchanin, vn thh amst vy natin  havsts ntd vidnct th cntay and aisd distbin qstins abt th pptity  thstcks n which thy id. Binnin in th nintnth cnty, hwv,shmn’s had-wn knwd a t tn disappad as nw tchnisincasd catchs. Bmp catchs bitatd mmis  hw th sam nm-b  mn, with th sam a, shin in th sam pac, had bn catchinw sh as tim passd—an indicat that stcks w diminishin. Sh-sid nataists’ insistnc that th sa was tna and shmn’s pidicss  vnaca knwd that stcks w dcinin incd ach th.Cmbind, thy camad n  th nthwst Atantic’s at ntd sastis, a t ta  chans in th sa.An iny shap as a scpin’s spins pvads that sty. N pssin hasv pacd m mphasis n avidin disast than saain. Mains in-stinctivy anticipatd dan, maintaind a shap kt, and cnstantyscannd thi sndins  indicatin  th sihtst pbm. T axviianc was t ct catastph. Yt disast stck  bth sh and sh-mn, pidicay in th svntnth, ihtnth, and nintnth cntis,thn nivsay at th nd  th twntith cnty, in pat bcas nith
 
PROLOGUE
 3
shs n scintists n picymaks chs t biv that what thy wsin was happnin. Th sa was nt immta.Nw, at th binnin  a nw minnim, ams  vidnc dcmntth ivin can’s dp pdicamnt and th impicatins  th st  pant. Fwin pbicatin in th jna
 Nature
 an ssay stimatinthat a pdaty sh had dcind wdwid by 90 pcnt,
 Newsweek’ 
scv sty n Jy 14, 2003, askd, “A th cans dyin?” In its GbaEnvinmnta Otk asd in 2007, th Unitd Natins EnvinmntaPamm ntd that th nmb  sh stcks cassid as “capsd” haddbd v th past twnty yas, t 30 pcnt, and it wand  a bacaps  a shd spcis by 2050 i shin and th wd cntind atits cnt pac. Th spd with which this cisis t th attntin  cists,shis manas, and cnsvatinists is had-tnin. As Tny J. Pitch, aspctd scintist, ntd in 2005, “Tn yas a mst shis scintistswd hav actd t nws  a ba cisis in shis with disbi. Tdayw dispt th matt.
A histica appach pts this cisis in pspctiv. Hw miht  nd-standin  th past chan i th Nth Atantic, ath than simpy svinth naativ pps  spaatin th Od Wd m th Nw, was nistdinstad as a pay in th histica dama, n that inncd pp and wasinncd by thm? Sch an appach wd qi a nw aphy  thay mdn wd t incd canic ins, a adin  mains’ canni-ca naativs, a cmmitmnt t main biy as an ssntia cmpnnt  Atantic histy, and a viw  th can and its havsts v th
longue durée.
 It wd b a sa sty n a ht nimainab sca.Din th A  th Ocan, cica 1500 t 1800, Epans nt ny cssd cans, and sd thm t stitch tth mpis  cmmc and manin,bt id n can pdcts and svics as nv b. Th saint cnnc-tins w nt ny
across
cans, bt
between
pp and th sa. It has nbn knwn that wstn Epans’ adaptatin t th at mdiva and ay mdn cmmcia vtin incdd sachs  distant scs  whai and mchantab sh.
Oth atinships btwn pp and th sahav civd a ss attntin. Tids in th Thams Riv and swh, instanc, w hanssd t mak pssib ncsd dcks  ships. That ipa-ian ninin afctd nt ny th w and sitatin  stain ivs, bt

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