Expedition will retrace legendary Steinbeck-Ricketts voyage to the Sea of Cortez

expedition, the voyage to the Sea of Cortez will be a personal journey as much as a professional one. ''Between Pacific Tides was the first biology book I'd ever owned,'' recalls Baxter. ''I was an engineering student in Southern California, and I'd seen some incredible stuff in the kelp on a diving trip, so I bought the book to help me identify what I'd seen.''

Coincidentally, Baxter also had been assigned to read Steinbeck's Cannery Row, and the more he read about the fictional and nonfictional Doc Ricketts, the more he was convinced to leave engineering and become a marine biologist.

''Ricketts and Steinbeck have been so important in stimulating the magical aspect of marine science, and certainly Ricketts is a guy I would really have enjoyed meeting and talking to and sharing a few beers with,'' Baxter says.

''A lot of people have been wanting to do this trip for years and it looks like this is the first time it really is going to be done,'' adds Ed Ricketts Jr. ''So I think - great!''

SIDEBAR TITLE: Credit where credit is due: The controversial decision to remove Ed Ricketts as co-author of The Log from the Sea of Cortez

The question of who actually wrote Sea of Cortez is one of the stranger chapters in the Steinbeck-Ricketts legend. The original book, Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research, published by Viking Press in 1941, lists the authors as ''John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts.'' That book was 598 pages long and consisted of two parts: a 270-page narrative log of the expedition, and a 338-page phyletic catalog that included descriptions and photographs of the many sea creatures collected in Mexico.

That Ricketts was primarily responsible for putting together the catalog is not in dispute. What irks many Ricketts scholars, however, is the widespread belief that the narrative log was entirely written by Steinbeck, when in fact much of it came directly from the pen of Ricketts.


Contact: Mark Shwartz
Stanford University

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