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Distributed for Reaktion Books


The sardine is a paradoxical fish. Seemingly insignificant, it has made fortunes for some, and, when stocks have collapsed, caused hardship for many, its status shifting from utilitarian food to gourmand’s delight. And in this book, Trevor Day—diver, fish-watcher, and marine conservationist—travels across four continents to meet the sardine in both its natural and cultural environment. Tracing the fish’s journey from minuscule egg to dinner plate, Day interweaves the story of the sardine with the rise and fall of entire fisheries.

A wide-ranging look at the cluster of fish species called sardines, Day’s book explores their relationship both with other marine creatures and with us. Elite predators feast on sardines, yet these silvery slivers are fast-breeding and opportunistic enough to likely survive their hunters for many millennia to come. Whether swimming free as a shoaling fish at the mercy of predators, packed in tins (and as a metaphor for overcrowding), or grilled on the streets of Lisbon as part of the Feast of St. Anthony, sardines have come to represent conformity, vulnerability, and tradition. And as Day’s biography of this familiar but under-appreciated fish reveals, the sardine is a barometer for the health of our oceans, a fish with lessons for us all about our stewardship of the seas.

208 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/4 x 7 1/2


Biological Sciences: Natural History

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"Sardine reviews the history of the fish and its importance to humans. Day explores the biology and history of the sardine, the rise and fall of global sardine fisheries, and the role this fishery has played throughout human history, including its significance to religion, art, and culinary circles. . . . The book includes several pictures and graphs, depicting not only the sardine but also marine food chains, equipment used in sardine fisheries, and reproductions of art related to the sardine. These pictures provide a rich visual component to an already interesting book. The information is presented in an upfront manner, avoiding complex terminology and making it appropriate for all levels of readership. Recommended."


"Thank you, Day, for making the commonplace miraculous. Sardines provide the second largest catch worldwide, sustain coastal peoples all over the world, and are the basis of many oceanic ecosystems. A glorious book in a great series that makes you think again."

Mark Cocker, naturalist


Verlyn Klinkenborg | New York Review of Books

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