by Victor Scheffer
I finished reading this book yesterday. It's the first one off my list for the 2009 TBR Challenge. Adventures of a Zoologist is a memoir of Scheffer's work as a wildlife researcher, specializing in marine mammals. He graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in the late 30's, and I was pretty excited at first to be reading a book set in the area I grew up in- his mention of the Pacific Northwest wildlife, climate, of Puget Sound islands, rocky beaches, hillsides of salal and wild blackberries- all felt familiar to me. Scheffer gives an overview of the various projects he was involved in during fifty years of his career, from being a ranger in Mount Rainier National Park, to counting seal populations on remote islands to teaching wildlife ecology in university classrooms. Most of his career was spent studying marine mammal populations, and it was very interesting to see how the attitude towards marine wildlife shifted during his time- when he began his work, fur seals were regarded as simply a resource, studied so they could know how many could be "harvested" for their skins without seriously decimating the population. Gradually people began to appreciate these animals for more than just commercial value, and by the time Scheffer was writing books and teaching in classrooms himself, marine mammals were first becoming protected. Sadly, I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I wanted to. Much of it relates the author's work with other famous biologists, outlines different symposiums he attended, his involvement in treaties between nations regarding the use of marine wildlife resources, etc etc. Lots of names, dates and other data fill the pages which sound very important and significant, but are just not that interesting to the casual reader like myself. I found that I was skimming pages for the bits that talked about his direct work with animals. I do want to read more by this author- I think I would really enjoy his Year of the Whale or Year of the Seal. But by the end, this book was just really making me yawn.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 204 pages, 1980