A meditation on this overlooked but vital plant through the lens of life on the rugged shore of the Gulf of Maine, where people farm seaweed and struggle to protect it against climate change, over-harvesting, and other dangers.
Seaweed Chronicles is a fascinating portrait of this valuable, increasingly threatened resource and a passionate plea for its wise management. It’s a beautiful book, both educational and inspirational, though it would have been even better with illustrations and maps. Shetterly is a wise, attentive observer, open to the wonders of nature. Although generally more lyrical than didactic, she helpfully frontloads the book with important facts about seaweeds ... Seaweed Chronicles is filled with delightful characters and adventures ... Seaweed Chronicles adds up to a persuasive and loving argument for 'a new model of how to manage ocean resources that doesn’t edge them toward oblivion.'
As in her previous collection of essays Settled in the Wild (2010), Ms. Shetterly writes beautifully about the interconnectedness of humans and animals and the natural environment that we share. The twinned concepts of community and belonging are central to this story. By exploring the land where we live, we can begin to understand our place in the world. Seaweed Chronicles is an elegy to environmentalism and to the individuals in Ms. Shetterly’s local community who are committed to the stewardship of coastal Maine’s natural habitat ... 'Solastalgia' is a relatively new word for the angst one feels when a familiar place is altered by climate change. This worry is palpable in Ms. Shetterly’s book, together with a longing for a world that can withstand the complexity and flux of our current society ... Ms. Shetterly is convinced and convincing about what constitutes a meaningful existence.
This is a big story to tell, so perhaps it’s understandable that Shetterly only tells half of it. We don’t hear the voices of Maine residents who want the jobs that large-scale harvesting promises. Shetterly lets the voices of those calling for sustainable management ring clear on what they’ve learned from research or running a business ... Yet Shetterly says little about what these remarkable people have learned of themselves or of human nature from their passionate engagement with kelp and coast and home ... Yet despite this, Seaweed Chronicles is a book about hope taking the form of a love of place fortified with scientific knowledge and human stubbornness. Readers new to the complexities of ecosystem management and restoration will find Seaweed Chronicles an excellent introduction to the topic. Likewise, nature and science enthusiasts seeking to understand an often overlooked part of marine life will find much to learn here. So will any reader seeking reassurance that yes, the world is still filled with creative, knowledgeable, and passionate people testing the ideas that may give the places we call home a chance to recover and replenish.