Book Review: Natural History of San Francisco Bay
By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and Kathleen M. Wong, 2011, UC Press, 352 pages, $24.95 paperback, $65 hardcover.
The latest installment of the UC Press Natural History series (number 102!) comes from frequent Bay Nature contributors Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and Kathleen Wong. Like many “guides” in the series, this one is carefully researched, well written, and not a field guide. Instead, the authors cover the sweep of the Bay’s history, from before the arrival of Europeans to the impending impacts of climate change.
Longtime Bay Nature readers will find much that’s familiar here, but impressively encompassed in a single volume: the contraction of the Bay due to development, the advent of the Save the Bay movement, the growth of wetland restoration, experimentation with native oysters and eelgrass, and the nexus of creek and Bay health, not to mention profiles of many shorebirds, fish, and mammals found in and around the Bay. Even for those with total Bay Nature recall, it is enlightening to read these stories in one compelling narrative, helped along by the authors’ direct and readable journalistic approach, which includes field trips with plankton samplers, eelgrass planters, clapper rail counters, and more.