The Northwest Coastal Explorer, by Robert Steelquist

The Northwest Coastal ExplorerFrom British Columbia to Oregon, our region offers a plethora of natural wonders that delight the eyes and years, caress (and sometimes assault) the nose, and invite wandering and exploration. It’s only natural that we have questions about these beautiful spots and the creatures that live here. Naturalist/photographer Robert Steelquist offers a handy guide for those who want to know more about our beautiful coast. Steelquist begins by providing a lesson on the northwest coast ecology and the powers that have shaped what we see today. He covers plate tectonics, ocean processes such as currents, upwelling, and tides, and the climate that gives us lush forests and moderate temperatures. We then turn to the main content, the six habitats of the Pacific Northwest Coast: coastal forests; rocky shores and tide pools; sand beaches; nearshore; rivers; and estuaries (where freshwater rivers meet the ocean). Each section, ranging from 20 to 35 pages in length, begins with a brief overview of the habitat followed by entries on the common flora and fauna of each area. Readers will learn about about the western red cedar and littleneck clams, great blue herons and river otters. Full-colour photos encourage leisurely study, and brief fact boxes offer interesting tidbits easily shared with younger readers, such as the prickly needle that helps identify the Sitka spruce. Alphabetically arranged entries mix both flora and fauna, and both proper and common names. For instance, coast redwood is followed by Douglas squirrel and then Garry oak. Happily there are plans for an index which should provide better access for those with a more logical mind, or for those who want to know about the elk in the meadow but don’t realize it’s the Roosevelt elk. Even long-time residents of the Northwest will find interesting and useful information – for instance, I learned the line of seaweed debris on a sandy shoreline left by the highest tide is the wrack line. Who knew it had a name? Some of the photos are mediocre, but others are truly spectacular, calling to mind one’s own past explorations and inspiring more to come. To help with that, Steelquist has included what he calls the Getaway Guide, suggested itineraries that give you the best of the Northwest has to offer in each region. The guide starts at the north end (and offers the most information) with Vancouver island, and moves south through the Olympic Coast, Oregon’s coastal dunes, and then briefly touches on the Redwood Highway in California. In addition to an index, addenda include a useful discussion about safety in the Pacific Northwest along with recommended gear for enjoying activities from tidepooling to whale watching, a reference list, and a short selection of recommended online resources. My thanks to Timber Press for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this title:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s