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California’s Love Affair with the Sea Shines in New Book

What is it about California, the most populous of the United States, and the Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest body of water, covering one-third of the planet, that creates such a powerful crosscurrent of culture, risk and reward, history, economy, and mythology?

Embed Golden ShoreIn The Golden Shore, author David Helvarg dives into this question, and shares where the state might be headed.

Helvarg doesn’t just explore what makes California’s Pacific Coast so alluring and romantic, he also emphasizes the environmental consciousness of place.

In a chapter entitled “Save Our Shores,” the author discusses how California has worked to balance development and economic prosperity with the need to protect natural habitat. He provides both a cultural and political history of these efforts that is eye-opening to anyone interested in environmental protection. Helvarg revisits this theme in the afterword, where he discusses a 2015 offshore oil spill along the coast north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara, including how this was addressed politically. Helvarg also expertly discusses rising sea levels, hypoxia, acidification, and other environmental challenges in a way that helps the reader understand activism, political influence, and policy.

As John Laird said, Chair, California Ocean Protection Council said, “The Golden Shore is about more than one man’s love affair with California’s iconic coast. It’s the history of an environmental consciousness that has been impressed upon people around the globe.”

Helvarg is the founder and executive director of Blue Frontier and cofounder of the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards. He has previously written six books, including Rescue Warriors, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, and Saved by the Sea.

From the first human settlements to the latest marine explorations, The Golden Shore tells the tale of the history, culture, and changing nature of California’s coasts and ocean. Helvarg takes the reader on both a geographic and literary journey along the 1,100-mile Pacific coastline, from the Oregon border to the San Diego/Tijuana international border fence and out into its whale-, seal-, and shark-rich offshore seamounts, rock isles, and kelp forests.

Part history, part travelogue, part love letter, The Golden Shore tells the story of California’s majestic coastline and ocean. Helvarg captures the spirit of the Californian coast, its mythic place in American culture, and its role in a state whose ongoing natural disasters and unremitting sense of renewal are intimately linked to its deep connection with an ever-changing sea. 

The Golden Shore is available in paperback from New World Library at and at most bookstores.

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