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190 × 135 × 15 mm
216 pages
102 illustrations, 78 in colour
01 Nov 2015

Seal Victoria Dickenson

From swimming alongside our kayaks, canoes, coracles and boats to gliding through the shadowy waters of remote seas, seals, with their playful and inquisitive natures, have long interacted with humans and played a part in our shared history with animals. Seal explores the natural and cultural history of this marine mammal who has piqued and delighted human interest since ancient times, from performing in Roman spectacles to appearing in contemporary zoos and animal rescue centres.

Seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses are so distinctive that biologists have classified them as members of a unique order, the Pinnipedia, yet our relationship with each distinctive seal species varies. We have for centuries hunted some seals for their skin, oil and meat. In the twentieth- and twenty-first century the hunt has become a focus for global protest, and the white-furred baby seal has evolved into one of the most powerful symbols for animal welfare and conservation. From selkie legends to the seal hunt, this beautifully illustrated book will both enlighten and captivate readers.

‘In a lively exploration of human-seal interactions, Dickenson discusses how seals, easily tamed, have featured in circuses since Roman times . . . Reaktion specializes in richly illustrated volumes that appeal to academics and amateur enthusiasts alike. Seal is no different it includes more than 100 photographs and drawings, and the extensive references and bibliography allow keen readers to continue studying.’ — Hakai magazine

Seal is profusely illustrated and makes fascinating, if sometimes grim, reading.’ — Outrage

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Victoria Dickenson is a historian and curator based in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Drawn from Life: Science and Art in the Portrayal of the New World (1998), Rabbit (Reaktion Books, 2013) and Seal (Reaktion Books, 2015).


1. True Seals

2. Seals and People

3. Peoples of the Seal

4. Hunting the Seal

5. Whitecoat



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Photo Acknowledgements