4 photographs, 7 illustrations, 2 graphs, 1 appendix, index
2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
More than any other nonhuman species, it was the sea otter that defined the world’s largest oceanscape prior to the California gold rush. In addition to the more conventional aspects of the sea otter trade, including Russian expansion in Alaska, British and American trading in the Pacific Northwest, and Spanish colonial ventures along the California coast, the global importance of the species can be seen in its impact on the East Asian maritime fur trade. This trade linked Imperial China, Japan, and indigenous Ainu peoples of the Kurile Islands as early as the fifteenth century.
In Sea Otters: A History Richard Ravalli synthesizes anew the sea otter’s complex history of interaction with humans by drawing on new histories of the species that consider international and global factors beyond the fur trade, including sea mammal conservation, Cold War nuclear testing, and environmental tourism. Examining sea otters in a Pacific World context, Ravalli weaves together the story of imperial ambition, greed, and an iconic sea mammal that left a determinative imprint on the modern world.
List of Illustrations
1. Rakkoshima, the Sea Otter Islands
2. Promyshlenniki and Padres
3. Boston Men
4. Near Extinction and Reemergence
5. Nukes, Aquaria, and Cuteness
Appendix: List of Vessels Engaged in the California Sea Otter Trade, 1786–1847