In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish

In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish

5.0 1
by Matt Rigney

A veteran recreational fisherman embarks on an eye-opening adventure to track the few remaining big game fish.

In Pursuit of Giants is an account of the high adventure of offshore sportfishing and a clarion call to preserve the last of the world's great fish. The story follows Rigney's global pilgrimage to encounter surviving populations of giant


A veteran recreational fisherman embarks on an eye-opening adventure to track the few remaining big game fish.

In Pursuit of Giants is an account of the high adventure of offshore sportfishing and a clarion call to preserve the last of the world's great fish. The story follows Rigney's global pilgrimage to encounter surviving populations of giant marlin, swordfish, and bluefin tuna hundreds of miles offshore New Zealand and Nova Scotia; in the sportfishing mecca of Cabo San Lucas; off Japan, South Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef; and in the Mediterranean. Rigney goes deep into the spiritual experience of the offshore world and introduces us to swordfish harpooners, sportfish captains, marine biologists, fish- farming pioneers, and Greenpeace activists. Rigney explores the crisis in fisheries management and considers what the loss of healthy, vibrant oceans means to us-to our health, our children's future, and our ability to experience the divine in nature.

In Pursuit of Giants combines the romance of a great sport narrative with the passionate advocacy of the best environmental writing. It recalls the spiritual power of Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard and will win comparisons to Mark Kurlansky's Cod.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An avid fisherman, Rigney provides a glorious read in his examination of sportfishing and the imperiled state of ocean life. The vivid immediacy of this call to action ranges from majestic descriptions of a marlin’s oceanic journey and a Japanese fisherman’s outrageat government-industry collusion to fishing fleets’ devastation of marine life. Arguing that the extinction of much ocean life is highly possible within decades, Rigney’s passionate advocacy of conservationist ethics is imbued with direct experience and eschews simplistic bromides. As he claims that sportfishers can help sustain an economy and act as a pro-conservation force, he notes that partialsuccesses in reversingthe depletion of marine lifecannot offset the impact of commercial overfishing, indiscriminate slaughter ofbycatch,and dishonest reporting of catch and evasion of regulations. Portraits of traditional swordfish harpooners and their empathy for the fish they harvest act as a foil to impersonal large-scale fishing, and grant depth to the profession: “The opportunity to experience ocean wilderness and explore what it means to be human... is why many venture out on the sea in pursuit of giants.” The “awe and humility” felt in the presence of these fish is sensitively and powerfully wrought throughout this dramatic, transcendental tale. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (June)
The Miami Herald
“Matt Rigney deftly navigates that symbolic tightrope between straight, fact-based narrative reporting and passionate advocacy….Rigney has crafted a smart, lyrical, passionate-but-not-too-preachy call to arms. In Pursuit of Giants should appeal to the recreational anglers who dream of catching 12-foot, 1,000-pound black marlin off the Great Barrier Reef and to conservationists and policymakers fretting about the permanent damage that has been wreaked over the half century….Rigney’s respect for many of his characters that make their living at sea and his near-spiritual connection to the big creates below resonates throughout.”
“[An] entertaining and impassioned text with strategic suggestions for sustainable fishing.”
The Valley Advocate
“A very important book; for any who cares about the sea, who cares about the planet and the future generations who will inherit it, who wonders at the mysterious power of the little remaining wilderness humankind has yet to rape and pillage, Rigney’s book is must-read…. A great fishing book, an adventure that leads the narrative into some of the most remote and hostile places on earth, chasing huge but increasingly endangered game fish that have animated the dreams of sport fisherman for more than a century.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A damned wonderful read….I highly recommend this book.”
Peter Matthiessen
In Pursuit of Giants is a very timely and important book, impressively thorough in the extent of its research, including many eloquent interviews at sea with commercial fishermen whose traditional livelihoods, like the splendid animals themselves, are everywhere on the point of disappearance. Like Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean, it is not only informative but exceptionally well written and a pleasure to read, which should bring it the wide audience it deserves.”

Ted Danson
In Pursuit of Giants is an exquisitely detailed love story, the tale of Matt Rigney’s love of the lions and tigers of the sea—the bluefin tuna, swordfish, and marlin that make sports anglers’ pulses race. It’s a love story colored with sadness from the unrelenting assaults on these fish from commercial fishing, tuna ranching, and even sports anglers themselves. But it’s also a story of hope—Rigney documents the efforts of men and women he met in his travels around the world, individuals who are trying to save these ocean giants. In Pursuit of Giants should inspire its readers to both love and defend its magnificent subjects.”
David Profumo
“[A] fascinating quest…. Suffused with passion for these great pelagic creatures. Muscular and lyrical by turns, Mr. Rigney’s prose deftly captures the wildness of the sea—the deep gleam of a shoal turning suddenly in the sunlight, the birdlike head of a striped marlin, spawning tuna “blazing their milky contrails.” Each section reads like a short story…. As this meticulous and engaging book demonstrates, we must change our mind-set lest we lose these giants.”
Kirkus Reviews
A sport fisherman's search for his game provides the backdrop to this exploration of the damage to the ocean's fish and animal stocks caused by large-scale commercial fishing operations. Rigney, a member of the International Game Fish Association, debuts with this personal investigation into the decline of big-game fish like marlin, swordfish and bluefin tuna. His travels took him to the Mediterranean, Japan, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Georges Bank off Nova Scotia, the Great Barrier Reef, and New Zealand. Occasionally fishing along the way, the author sought those whose love for the ocean and its creatures mirrored his own. Everywhere he traveled he discovered a similar story: Corporations entered an area, manipulated or ignored government regulations, and, using long lines and huge nets, laid waste to massive populations of sea creatures. Rigney documents the hideous collateral damage to what is called "by-catch"--in some parts of the world, five pounds of turtle, sea lion, porpoise and whale are killed and thrown back for every pound of shrimp caught. Mexico's Sea of Cortes, long a preserve for sport fishermen, has opened up to destructive long-line fishing. Rigney fished for swordfish in the fished-out waters of the northern Atlantic and visited Tokyo's fish market, which handles up to 10 percent of the world's catch each day. There he learned about the Atlantic bluefin tuna, whose Mediterranean breeding grounds have been pillaged for two decades. The author is afraid that the bluefin has gone the same way as the cod and the Atlantic salmon. In Australia, he met with people working on breeding bluefin tuna in captivity; a final swordfish hunt in New Zealand encapsulates his passion for the freedom and wildness of the ocean. A dramatic account that will appeal to the sportsman and conservationist alike.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years


Meet the Author

A New England recreational fisherman for nearly forty years, Matt Rigny is a member of the International Game Fish Association and Oceana, the largest ocean restoration group in the world. He lives in western Massachusetts.

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In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an important book, it is also one heck of a read. It is the best book on the environment I have read in a while, and certainly the best on the oceans. At times it read like a novel, the author is so good at bringing alive on the page the incredicle characters he meets -- whether sword fish harpooners in Canada, or Greenpeace activists in the Mediterranian Sea. And the way be brings to life the fish whose fate he chronicles! Whether a swordfish being harpooned, or a blue fin tuna on the hunt or the gian whale shark he swims with in Cabo, I have never thought anyone could make cold fish seem so alive, so important. It's an easy thing to do with a baby gorilla or a panda. but to make you care about a sword fish? And it is a good read, copelling, entertaining and alarming in the news he brings about what is happening to the great fish of the oceans, and why. And there are some good villians too -- the tuna maifia in the Med Sea, bureauocrats in Canada as dead as a dead fish. Really great stuff! A great summer read, can't recommend it enough -- so much so I have actually written on these reviews for the first time!