The Girl of The Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley #review

I am delighted to share a book that has been on my shelf for many years. I originally picked it up from a charity. The Girl of The Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley is very far removed from the more well known book Jaws. It was first published in 1982 and has so many relevant points about the human impact on our oceans that it is a very poignant message.

So let us have a look and see what this one is all about…

On an island in the Gulf of California, an intrepid young woman named Paloma carries a special legacy from her father—a deep understanding of the sea and a sixth sense about the need to protect it.

Every day, Paloma paddles her tiny boat into the ocean and anchors over a seamount—a submerged volcanic peak sixty feet underwater that is clustered with spectacular sea animals and a wondrous web of marine life.

It is there that an astonishing event takes place, when on one of her dives Paloma is shadowed by a manta ray—an animal so large it blocks the sun. She develops an extraordinary relationship with this luminous, gentle creature, but instinctively knows its existence is a secret she must fiercely protect.

Benchley’s novel paints a poignant picture of humanity’s precarious relationship with the ocean, which unfolds alongside a heartrending story of familial bonds, often revealing that the ignorance of man is far more dangerous than the sea. Full of beauty, danger, and adventure, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez is triumphant—a novel to fall in love with.

I picked up a hardback copy of this book in a charity shop quite a while ago. It was the author that caught my eye. Yes! Peter Benchley the author of Jaws and also The Deep, I mention these two books as they are the ones I read many years ago. The Girl of The Sea of Cortez is very far removed from the book and the film Jaws and the hysteria that was whipped up at the time. Instead this book is a magical read that delves into the depths of the marine ecosystem that the main protagonist Paloma knows.

This was such a pleasure to read as the author creates such a superb and rich setting. Paloma is very different to others in her village, she follows in her fathers belief that the local fishermen should only catch what they need rather get greedy and take all they can. At it’s core is a message about protecting ocean fish stocks, taking what can be eaten and not sold. Alongside this message runs the traditions and beliefs of the fishing community on the islad. The way things have been done over generations are changing, what went before is being replaced by a new generation who want more from their lives. I understand that people want more things, especially those that live in a more isolated existence.

The story of Paloma and her relationship with a secret area in the Sea of Cortez that is unknown to other fishermen sounds so idyllic. Her affinity with the creatures that inhabit this fabulous area made it feel like such a sacred place, it a gave the story such a magical feel, like a world slightly separate from everywhere else. Paloma is a girl who is willing to buck the trend and stand up for her beliefs and wants to protect the future of the seas. Without careful management she knows that once the fish are gone, then there is no future.

This is a beautifully written story and such a surprise as it was so different to what I expected. It is a powerful and very addictive read that has a very strong message at its core. It is one I would definitely recommend.

This book was originally published in June 1982. That’s 37 years ago, and in that time some of the aspects that are warned about in this book have actually come true. It is so scary to think that in those years there have been many species that are either on the critically endangered or extinct list. Just search on the internet…it is a very sad search… 😦

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

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