Swirling Currents, Now Available!


Listen to Mindy Todd and Sandy MacFarlane discuss her new book, "Swirling Currents", on Cape & Islands NPR's The Point

Swirling Currents: Controversy, Compromise, and Dynamic Coastal Change

by Sandy MacFarlane

Signed Copies Available, Purchase Here

During one remarkable day early in 2017, more than two hundred of the highly endangered North Atlantic right whales, nearly half of the entire world’s population, entered Cape Cod Bay to feed on the annual bloom of copepods, tiny shrimp-like animals. News spread fast, detailed in national stories and news programs. Throngs of people traveled to beaches for a glimpse of the elusive giants or their distinctive, V-shaped spouts. The presence of those whales and their habitat represent one animal whose protection leads to biological, social, political, and economic ramifications that impact shipping and fishing industries and, in turn, consumers.

The event highlighted how an event, perceived as local, is often part of a much larger picture. Whales closer to demise; sharks chasing seals chasing fish; turtles stranding; functionally extinct oysters and aquaculture filling the gap; the Gulf of Maine heating swiftly and the Gulf Stream slowing down — all happening in the global context of dynamic coastal change. An engaging mix of personal stories and scientific investigation, Swirling Currents tells the stories behind the headlines.

Cape Cod has a front-row seat to observe several global marine conflicts swirling around its waters. Its unique geography, an arm of sand and glacial till sticking more than forty miles into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts, make it a physical boundary between cold water species to the north and warm water ones to the south. Called a biogeographic boundary, it joins the Bay of Fundy to the north and Cape Hatteras to the south as similar dividing lines. Cape Cod’s position between the other two is an important location to observe many of the rapid changes in species distribution and seaside landscapes occurring all along the coast. Examining what is transpiring is instructive for areas both north and south of the Cape to give a broader perspective about what is happening elsewhere.