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Nature in Its Greatest Extent: Western Science in the Pacific.

"Nature in Its Greatest Extent," edited by Roy MacLeod and Philip E Rehbock, and subtitled "Western Science in the Pacific," has been published by the University of Hawaii Press, 2840 Kolowalu Street, Honolulu, HI 96822. MacLeod is professor of modern history, University of Sydney, Australia, and Rehbock teaches in the history and general science departments at the University of Hawaii and is also editing the Challenger letters of Joseph Matkin. Other contributors include John E. Bardach, Barry W. Butcher, David G. Frodin, Alan Frost, Miranda Hughes, Isabel Ollivier, Robert H. Randolph, Harry N. Scheiber, and O. H. K. Spate.

Most of the chapters were originally presented at the XVIIth International Congress of History of Science, University of California, Berkeley, 31 July-8 August 1985. This ambitious book spans the Pacific and nearly 300 years of discovery, but of special interest are the three chapters of Part 111, "Pacific science in the making." Chapter 8 by Rehbock details the origins of and influences upon the Pacific Science Association. He notes that among the 39 resolutions of the Pan-Pacific Science Conference of 1920 were that a comprehensive survey of Pacific fisheries be instigated, that surveys of Pacific flora and fauna be conducted, that Pacific exploration survey ships be financed by various governments, and that the Pacific Ocean bottom be mapped accurately.

Wilbert Chapman received scant mention in the history of the University of Washington's School of Fisheries, owing to his very brief tenure as its director. Here, however, he gets an entire chapter by Scheiber, "Wilbert Chapman and the revolution in U.S. Pacific Ocean science and policy, 1945-5l." Chapman, who considered himself an ichthyologist, called himself a "biopolitician," and earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947 for his blenny research, held a variety of important positions which he used to help engineer a wide variety of fisheries advancements.

In Chapman's view, the Pacific Ocean was "the Great Plains of the twentieth century." Discussed is his role in promoting legislation to create the Hawaii-based Pacific Oceanic Fishery Investigations (POFI), which is termed a "radical change in federal ocean research policy" as it helped win recognition for oceanography in the scientific community. Chapman's efforts to get state and Federal agencies and industry to coalesce and work together to attain common objectives are detailed, as are his efforts to promote the California sardine investigations, tuna studies, and his work with the U.S. Department of State on tuna, salmon, and halibut problems.

The Soviet Union has long attached great importance to the Pacific Ocean and its resources, and chapter 10, by Randolph and Bardach, discusses this at length, particularly in regard to marine biology. Noted is the growth in Soviet involvement in the Pacific Science Association and in marine research in the Pacific from about the early 1920's into the 1980's. Also discussed are Soviet investigations of overfishing, pollution, and habitat disruption, along with marine park establishment, mariculture advancements, etc. Also noted are a number of difficult political problems that have faced the Soviet sciences, including fisheries.

Another chapter of interest is "Seamen and scientists: The literature of the Pacific, 1697-1798." That period predates the specific marine science expeditions, but it provides interesting insights into the writings and temperaments of the explorer-captains of the era and the naturalists who sailed with them. Other chapters discuss European Pacific explorations, 1764-1806, for political purposes; surgeon-naturalist Pierre-Adolphe Lesson; observations of Tasmanian aborigines by Baudin and Peron in 1802; early New Guinean natural history work; science in colonial Australia; and the Funafuti expeditions of 1896-1904. Hardbound, the 288-page volume is indexed, costs $34.00, and includes many notes and sources of information, and provides interesting historic insights into marine fisheries and oceanographic developments.
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Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1988
Words:613
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