________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 04 . . . . September 24, 2010


The Sea Wolves: Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Ian McAllister & Nicholas Read. Photographs by Ian McAllister.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
121 pp., pbk, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-206-4.

Subject Headings:
Wolves - British Columbia - Great Bears Rainforest -Juvenile literature.
Rainforest ecology - British Columbia -Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4


"Because the Great Bear Rainforest is as much about the sea as it is land, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that wolves find food in its inlets, bays and fjords too. During the late summer and fall, salmon return in the millions to swim upriver and lay eggs, and when this happens, wolves feast hungrily on them. But wolves don't have to wait until then for the sea to serve dinner. In spring and summer as well as fall, the jagged rainforest shoreline is full of barnacles, mussels, crabs and clams for wolves to eat. That may seem strange to think of a wolf eating seafood. But rainforest wolves, like every other creature on the planet, adapt to where they live, and in a place defined by the sea as much as the Great Bear Rainforest is, seafood is a constant. Seafood is not the biggest part of a wolf's diet, but when you're as hungry as a wolf, every morsel helps. "

In this second book about BC's Great Bear Rainforest, co-authors McAllister and Read introduce the reader to the population of wolves that inhabit this coastal region. Just as an earlier book, The Salmon Bears, highlighted the white Spirit Bear, this book focuses on a unique group of wolves that are genetically distinct from wolves elsewhere in the world. Smaller, with the ability to swim and fish which allows them to thrive in this isolated environment, these wolves enjoy the respect and admiration of First Nations people. Through a detailed study of the habits of these wolves, the book counters the common notion that wolves are bad, a nuisance or a species to be feared by humans.

     In a casual, engaging style, the first chapter reviews the sources of our concept of the wolf as an enemy those myths and fairy tales we all grew up with--and the extermination policies that have led to their decline. By comparing the social nature of wolves to that of people, it becomes clear why studying the coastal wolves that haven't yet been as adversely affected by human contact will disprove those long held attitudes. Readers are encouraged to consider the similarities: both live in family groups, each member has a specific role, both value their young, enjoy play and the company of others, and hunt for food.

     Five more chapters detail the seasonal habits of the wolves. We learn how they go about raising their young during the summers of plentiful food. Some of these intelligent animals have adapted to living on offshore islands with their special demands for survival. One chapter describes the close relationship between wolves and the salmon which nourish the entire ecosystem. In winter, the challenges of weather and lack of many prey species force the wolves to depend mainly on deer. The reader is shown how preservation of the environment contributes to success for wolves and all other inhabitants. Chapter Seven is an account of the coastal wolves close association with aboriginal people and the raven, and how both wolves and ravens are featured so prominently in First Nations culture. The final chapter, Into the Future, discusses efforts to protect the Great Bear Rainforest and, in particular, the wolves that call it home. Emphasis is on understanding the interconnectedness within the ecosystem: e.g. declines in salmon will affect the wolves existence profoundly. Plans for oil drilling or oil-tanker ports in the area may impact the wolves. The authors make an impassioned plea to see these wolves as fragile symbols of a wild setting, both of which are worthy of protection.

     Additional facts are included in the many inserts labeled Wolf Bites. They are presented in the form of questions that young readers may wonder about. The extent of research is obvious in fascinating details:wolf dens are often built near patches of salal bush [that] crackles when you walk through it. The same exceptional photography that readers saw in The Salmon Bears also graces this publication, bringing readers up close and personal with wolf subjects engaged in everyday activities, views that few people will likely see in the wild.

     The threats to this region are real and immediate, and the authors concern to see this unique area remain intact has led to a valuable resource in this book about coastal wolves. Through their association with Pacific Wild, a conservation organization, they hope that continued education will support this ideal.

     Add this book to your library for leisure reading or research.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.