The Naked Shore: Of the North Sea
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Like the Celtic and Nordic gods of the countries surrounding it, the North Sea has battered and bewildered, produced and provided, damaged and destroyed in equal measure. Its inclement weather and perilous tides have made it a playground and a proving ground, a nursery and a grave, an object of veneration and a mighty adversary. A sea like no other, it has shaped our modern world and yet remained the same ancient beast known to the earliest inhabitants of its shores.
In North Sea, journalist Tom Blass trawls the bottom and skims the waves of the North Sea, searching for all that glistens, enraptures, enrages, and appalls. He sets out to meet the men and women who have devoted their lives to uncovering its secrets, from marine biologists studying the North Sea's submerged landscapes to the world's leading expert on Doggerland.
Traveling by tram, ferry, and twelve-seater aircraft around the eclectic borderlands, Blass interviews local fishermen, ornithologists, and bomb-disposal experts, capturing the wild, war-torn history of the North Sea, as well as the ways in which humanity has ecologically transformed it through overfishing and the race for energy.
North Sea scatters light into the sea's cold and murky depths, exploring its wonders and its relationship with humanity--from drug gangs to the Schleswig Holstein question to the sea's new role as a headline-grabbing environmental battleground.
fortnight after that New York Times article was published, a fleet of German battlecruisers and destroyers shelled Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby, killing 137 people and wounding a further 600 before the vessels returned to their home ports almost unscathed by the British fleet. A US newspaper, the Independent, reported how, ‘Sudden as a lightning flash in a lowering storm half a dozen cruisers of the Black Eagle shoot out of the mist that hovers over the North Sea and bombard the coast of
than the shoddiness of one or a handful of crewmen. And when a minister of the day announced that the operator P&O would not face criminal charges, one parliamentarian described the Herald as ‘a latterday Titanic, wrecked on an iceberg of Department of Transport indifference, managerial incompetence and working methods that were apparently designed only to shorten turn-around times, regardless of risks to passengers and crew’. Had Ensor been alive, he would almost certainly have made something
island’s best ‘gunner’ Jan Auckens ‘had already levelled his gun at it a few paces off, and was in fact in the very act of pulling the trigger’ before it rose loftily and disappeared like the mythical beast it may well have been. Jan was one of three Auckens brothers – island legends both for their love and knowledge of birds and their unerring aim. The oldest, Oelrich, was known to everyone as Old Oelk. Ornithology was different then, involving very much more shooting and stuffing. But while
nothing. That’s always how it is.’ He laughed. ‘Difficult to get everything exactly right: lots of fish and good prices. Sometimes it happens.’ He crushed his empty Slots Classic tin in a hand like a giant starfish and handed himself a full one. I hung around with my new friends for a while, nodding sagely as old fishermen swapped stories in a language of which I had not the slightest grasp. They came and went, these sea dogs, enjoying their Slots. ‘Aah,’ said Jacob. ‘Life is gooood.’ Presently
identity and survival with it, and from it there came an apparently self-replenishing abundance of fish, even close in to shore. James Nicolson noted that the ‘most important of these was the saithe, especially the young fish, called up to two years old sillocks, and between two and four years old, piltocks. The flesh was dark and less inviting than that of other species, but it was the abundance of the shoals . . . that made them so important.’ One of the great merits of the piltock was that