The Sea of Cortez
In March 1940 Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck chartered the Western Flyer, a 75-foot purse seiner built in Tacoma in 1937, and sailed from Monterey to the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. This unique marine environment is located between the mainland coast of Mexico and the coast of the Baja peninsula. The Sea of Cortez is one of the most ecologically diverse seas on the planet and is home to more than 5,000 described species. Ricketts and Steinbeck had an ambition to undertake the ﬁrst serious scientiﬁc study of the Sea of Cortez as an ecological whole. They aimed to emulate the voyaging style of Charles Darwin on their trip and this is reﬂected in the full title of the book Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research. The ﬁrst portion of the book is a log written by Steinbeck, but based closely on the Verbatim Transcript that had been written by Ricketts from the contemporaneous notes he had kept during the voyage. In addition to the narrative Ricketts had compiled an extensive phylectic catalogue describing the species that they had found, with full cross-references to the known literature on the marine fauna of the region. The full book is about 600 pages long and was never commercially succesful. In later editions the publishers completely dropped the phylectic catalogue and the log portion was published under the title Log from the Sea of Cortez under Steinbeck’s sole authorship.
Now Arion Press has composed a new edition in celebration of the 80 years since the voyage of the Western Flyer. It has very high craft production values, and a sky-high price (HERE). This new edition includes limited edition wood engraved prints by Richard Wagener, including a multi-colour print of the Western Flyer itself.