When author Jeff Rotman began his adventures as an underwater photographer more than 40 years ago, he relished the beauty of the deep sea and the thrill of the hunt. A member of an elite group of photographers, he has captured iconic photographs of sharks and other creatures of the deep that can be seen in National Geographic as well as the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week television series.
Rotman’s passion for photographing marine life took a dramatic turn when he found a pile of sharks at the bottom of the sea stripped of their fins and left to die by rogue fisherman. The Last Fisherman documents the catastrophic changes in ocean wildlife and the people whose lives depend on hunting it.
Rotman has witnessed the near commercial collapse of cod fisheries in the North Atlantic and the growth of illegal poaching in the protected waters of Cocos Island which threatens this fragile ecosystem long admired by divers for the shark and ray populations. His journey mirrors our view of the oceans as places of wonder, to the fragile hunting grounds they are today. In his introduction, marine biologist Les Kaufman discusses how the “emptying out of the oceans” has progressed over time. But he also includes stories of hope as scientists, fisherman—and observers like Jeff Rotman—come to agree that the time is now for a new approach to the most fundamental of human activities, finding sustenance in the water around us.
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