The Mortal Sea,
Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail

Jeff Bolster, UNH,
Marine Historian and Author

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 7:00pm
Curtis Memorial Library
Brunswick, Maine

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) fifth presentation of its 19th annual Winter Speaker Series: The Mortal Sea, Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail; features Dr. Jeff Bolster, award-winning author and professor from UNH. The event, taking place Wednesday, February 10th, 7:00pm at Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant St., Brunswick, is free and open to the public.
Since the Viking ascendancy in the Middle Ages, the Atlantic has shaped the lives of people who depend upon it for survival. And just as surely, people have shaped the Atlantic. W. Jeffrey Bolster, a historian and professional seafarer, takes us through a millennium-long environmental history of our impact on one of the largest ecosystems in the world.

While overfishing is often thought of as a contemporary problem, Bolster reveals humans were transforming the sea long before factory trawlers turned fishing from a handliner's art into an industrial enterprise. The western Atlantic's legendary fishing banks, stretching from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, have attracted fishermen for more than five hundred years. Bolster follows the effects of this siren's song from its medieval European origins to the advent of industrialized fishing in American waters at the beginning of the twentieth century. Blending marine biology, ecological insight, and a remarkable cast of characters, from notable explorers to scientists to an army of unknown fishermen, Bolster tells a story that is both ecological and human: the prelude to an environmental disaster.

Jeff Bolster earned his undergraduate degree at Trinity College (Hartford), his M.A. from Brown, and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. He was appointed to the UNH faculty in 1991. His research encompasses maritime history, African-American history, environmental history, and Atlantic history. Each of his four books on maritime history has won prestigious awards. He not only reads and writes about oceans, but also sails them. Bolster spent a decade as master and mate of sailing school-ships and research vessels in the Atlantic, and he’s currently licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as both master and mate of a variety of sailing vessels.

FOMB hosts their Winter Speaker Series October-May on the second Wednesday of each month. The March 9th presentation, Maine’s Rare & Endangered Invertebrates features Dr. Phillip deMaynadier, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Reptile-Amphibian-Invertebrate Group, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. Speaker Series presentations are always free and open to the public and supported by Patagonia, Inc. in Freeport. Visit to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect beautiful Merrymeeting Bay.

Call Kathleen McGee, 666-3598

Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler