“To Pee or Not to Pee”

“There’s Something about Medusae”

Intrigued? These subtitles grabbed my attention. They describe sidebar stories in Gregory C. Jensen’s new book Crabs and Shrimps of the Pacific Coast: A Guide to Shallow-water Decapods from Southeastern Alaska to the Mexican Border.

As a writer in content development at the Vancouver Aquarium, I rely on all sorts of ID books that identify various animal species to help me in my work. Most of them are get-to-the-point-type texts, but I actually had fun reading Gregory’s book. He says humour is the way to draw people in.

“Crabs are fascinating animals. The more readable the book is, the more likely people will want to learn about them.”

resize thumbnail Greg Jensen 1Gregory’s first ID book listed about 160 species. This significant update has nearly 300 species between its covers – some that Gregory himself have scientifically described.

Beyond the quirky text, the book – and accompanying CD – are filled with vivid photos that show natural phenomena like mutations, parasites and moulting.

Gregory’s interest in crabs and shrimps goes way back to a time when he found porcelain crabs as a kid.

“I had no idea that anything like that existed, so weird with claws bigger than their bodies. Up until that point, I just knew about the classic crab shape.”

Pubescent porcelain crab, Pachycheles pubescens

Pubescent porcelain crab, Pachycheles pubescens

Aside from being the author of this book, Gregory also teaches at the University of Washington. He says most of his students tend to study charismatic megafauna, like whales and sharks, but if he ever has a student that doesn’t quite know what to study, he, of course, steers them towards crabs and shrimps.

“They’re more than little robots. They’re smarter than people give them credit for.”

And judging by this book – a heck of a lot more interesting too.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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