Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tuna: Love, Death, and Mercury” as Want to Read:
Tuna: Love, Death, and Mercury
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tuna: Love, Death, and Mercury

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  148 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Famed marine researcher and illustrator Richard Ellis brings us a work of scientific achievement that will forever change the way we think about fish, fishing, and the dangers inherent in the seafood we eat.

The bluefin tuna is one of the world's biggest, fastest, and most highly evolved marine animals, as well as one of its most popular delicacies. Now, however, it hovers
Paperback, 366 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tuna, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tuna

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Paul Hart
A little repetitive at times. Well researched but constant quoting can take away from the narrative. Was hoping for something a little more polemical but he puts for a pretty convincing case at the devastating state of the world's fisheries.
Interesting but repetitive. Not enough true substance. Lots of quoting and lots of the same exact story or the same exact fact just repeated in a slightly different manner. And yet there was pretty good coverage of the subject - especially around Tuna as a fish and Tuna ranching. I would have preferred more details in almost all areas. I would have liked to have seen even more technical details on the Tuna species themselves. Definitely not up to the level of say Cod: A Biography of the Fish tha ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. As a person who was a big fan of "Cod", I was hoping this would be a similar look into the history and forward momentum of the Tuna fishing industry. I got through the first 2 chapters and decided to put it down.

I'm from a science background, so I think this book was just too juvenile for me. Despite it's length, much of the author's prose is quoting others, repetition, and completely irrelevant facts. He even goes so far as to explain the latin species naming
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Ellis loves tuna. Not so much on the plate, but as a top predator that deserves its place in the world's oceans.

"Tuna: A Love Story" goes way beyond boy-meets-fish. The book is stuffed with facts, figures and research, but the organization needed to sort it out isn't there. It seems to have been written in a rush, perhaps because Ellis wanted the book released while you could still see tuna in the wild. I think many readers will become confused sorting out the details. Charts and tables
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The content of the book is very interesting. Tuna are being over-fished worldwide, and the state of global fisheries is dire. I enjoyed the book for informing me about the issues, but there was nothing special about the writing.
David Ward
Tuna: A Love Story by Richard Ellis (Alfred A. Knopf 2008) (333.5967). This is a book about one of the fastest predators in the sea. Tuna was not considered a delicacy until the Japanese created a market for it as sushi. The largest tuna were quickly fished out, the tuna population crashed, and the price of tuna skyrocketed. Richard Ellis writes about tuna farming, sport fishing for tuna, and the various species that make up the tuna family. It's a worthwhile read for one who has an interest in ...more
Max Maxwell
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who can turn anger into productivity
Recommended to Max by: SEED magazine
To most people, tuna isn't a fish, but rather a food item that comes in a can, disconnected from anything it might've been in life, to be mixed with celery and mayonnaise, or served on a plate with wasabi, without requirement of further contemplation. To Richard Ellis (and other biologists like him), though, the tuna is a masterpiece of evolution, the most perfectly adapted creature on earth, a wonder to behold. And it turns out that this wonder is in serious (immanent, even) danger of being wip ...more
Paul Pessolano
This is a great book - if you are an ichthyologist. This book will inform you of everything and anything you would want to know about Tuna. There are certain parts of this book that remind me of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick". A great story, but his laborious description of whales brought many a reader to their knees.

Why would I want to read this book?

Well, I have heard stories about how great this fish is, and how we are fishing it to extinction. The book does a very good job of telling this par
Nov 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For millions of years the oceans teemed with large, pelagic predatory fish. These species, most majestically the Bluefin Tuna, roamed the oceans at will - crossing the Atlantic in weeks.

Millions of years of evolution made the Bluefin Tuna the perfect fish. The Bluefin Tuna was warmblooded, could accelerate faster a Porsche, and (if it survived larvahood) live for decades.

Tragically, the king of the seas is no match for the sushi craze. Japanese, who never ate Bluefin Tuna until a hundred years
Yi-hsin Lin
This book contains a lot of useful information. The major topics regarding bluefin tuna are reasonably addressed; namely, the life cycle and distribution of the fish, the history of the tuna fisheries, the effect of the Japanese sashimi market, current health concerns, and its current conservation status.

Unfortunately the book is unevenly edited and poorly organized. Ellis circles back to the same themes over and over again, sometimes even telling the same stories in different chapters. This mak
Nick Forret (what_a_novel_idea)
I enjoyed the research the author did writing this book. I felt I learned a lot about a creature I knew very little of and enjoyed the history and passion he portrayed in his writing. The only reason I didn't give a better rating had to do with how repetitive it was. Despite my enjoyment of the book, there were a lot of times I found myself struggling to push through facts that were repeated, sometimes across several chapters. Despite that, I'd still recommend it to anyone who is a patient reade ...more
Chi Dubinski
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything you always wanted to know about tuna. Because of the popularity of tuna as a food fish, especially in Japan where it is prized as sushi, it is now on the brink of extinction. The seas have been overfished, and now "tuna ranches"--similar to cattle feed lots--have become multimillion dollar businesses.

Ellis addresses the importance of tuna to the global economy, the ocean ecosystems, and as a food and sport fish. No longer will you take the ubiquitous can of tuna for granted. Great ins
Full of facts and figures about the devastation of the worldwide Tuna population, in the years since the fish were upgraded from cat-food-only or emergency rations for the poor, to the world's priciest and most-sought-after sashimi ingredient. Not a lot of evidence of love in here for these remarkable fish -- even the auhor fails to really capture the essense of why he thinks Tuna are so great, the way he did so beautifully in his book about the Giant Squid. He quotes Zane Grey, who did a better ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non-fiction but read like an engaging PBS special. Pretty disheartening to learn about how this blue fin tuna is almost extinct because of human's unwillingness to learn how to share and care for the world. When did the morals we learned in Preschool become obsolete?

If you have to eat sushi, learn about what you are eating and where it is coming from. Make informed decisions. Don't be a Goofus when it comes to the environment and the world. Be a Gallant!

Sep 05, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
@ Weber.
I heard an interview on NPR with the author. He was soooooo totally excited about tuna that he got me totally enthused too!

Did you know that in 40 degree water a tuna can raise it's own body temp to 80 degrees? That is remarkable! When I was little my mom always made me wear my coat. I don't know why, but wearing a coat when it was 20 degrees outside was SO super embarrassing. I guess tuna children don't have to have that same fight with their tuna mothers.
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ellis' description of tuna farming was eye-opening, as was the state of the bluefin tuna fishery. One has to wonder just how long the fishery can be sustained while the japanese market for a-grade sashimi pays a small fortune for each fish? Unfortunately, the book was full of repetition, which made it a tiresome read at times.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was shocked to learn how overfished the Bluefin tuna is, and the very real danger to the world's future fish supply. However, the book is full of mind-numbing statistics, which makes it a difficult book for me to appreciate.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very engaging book on the plight of the tuna. I had the opportunity to hear Mr Ellis speak the other day and he was adamant about not eating tuna at all any more..not that he doesn't love to eat it, but due to the dangerously high mercury content of the fish.
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for tuna lovers and anyone interested in or concerned for the worlds oceans and ocean life - also talks about the worlds tuna fisheries from a business standpoint. Very interesting and informative, written for the lay-person.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
good lord, this book needs an editor. half the information was repeated across multiple chapters. otherwise, reading about purse seiners was totally heartbreaking.
Ed Erwin
Dec 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think there is a very good story buried in here somewhere. But this was poorly organized and needed to be seriously edited down. He repeats himself a lot.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really changed the way I think about one of my favorite foods and has been really useful for a project I'm doing for university.
Amanda Bird
Ton of good info but tough to stay interested to the end :) I recommend reading this if you want to become more informed about the industry in general.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
everything you will ever need to know about tuna, if youre interested.
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read it !
Oct 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There's so much erotica on this site! I don't think it's appropriate. Please flag this. I refuse to read such sleaze.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its about fishing, so obviously I liked it, BUT its really scientific... a bit boring. I read it once, bought it a second time by accident and didn't remember reading it the first time.
Oct 08, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Just heard a half hour interview with the author. This seems like a book for anyone who like the ocean, fish, sushi, etc. Can't wait to pick it up.
Michael Meloy
So far, I love this book. I think Ells could use a better editor (too much repetition), but he has an irresistible argument. More Fish, Less Sushi.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
  • Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur
  • Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality
  • Almost Chimpanzee: Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos
  • The Shark Chronicles: A Scientist Tracks the Consummate Predator
  • The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs
  • The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea
  • North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration
  • Polar Obsession
  • An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World
  • The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean
  • Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
  • Consider The Eel: A Natural And Gastronomic History
  • The Extreme Life of the Sea
  • Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish
  • Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird
  • The Soul Of The White Ant
  • Seven Tenths: The Sea and Its Thresholds
Richard Ellis is a celebrated authority on marine biology and America’s foremost marine life artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide. His nine books include The Search for the Giant Squid (a Publishers Weekly 1998 Best Book of the Year), Great White Shark, Encyclopedia of the Sea, Men and Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Deep Atlantic The Book of Whales, and Imagining Atlantis.
More about Richard Ellis...