Re: Predation by Humans?

September 17, 2001
From: Scott Johnson

Hi Bill,
Peter's story about John Steinbeck's nudibranch encounter may refer to an anecdote Steinbeck related in his book Log of the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck was a good friend of Ed Ricketts, a biologist who was the inspiration for Cannery Row. Speaking of Ricketts, Steinbeck wrote:

"He reached under the water and picked up a lovely orange-colored nudibranch and put it in his mouth. And instantly he made a horrible face and spat and retched, but he had found out why fishes let these living tidbits completely alone."

Afraid I don't have publication details of the book since I cannot find my old battered copy. But if you can find it, I recommend it. It is an often amusing tale of a collecting expedition the two men made to Mexico's Sea of Cortez in the late 1930's or 40's. How times have changed -- in some ways, at least.


Johnson, S., 2001 (Sep 17) Re: Predation by Humans?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Thanks Scott,
I wondered about the Sea of Cortez book - but like you I could't find a copy I used to have. I agree its a wonderful read for anyone with even a passing interest in the marine biology. There is a recent Penguin paperback reprint if anyone's interested.


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