Edward F. Ricketts's passion for zoology began when he was a child in urban Chicago during the first years of the twentieth century, well before he was a fledgling collector on the shores of Monterey Bay in California in the 1920s. In his seminal text, Between Pacific Tides, Ricketts grouped animals by five primary intertidal habitats: rocky shores, sandy beaches, sand flats, mud flats, and wharf pilings. Ricketts also collected specimens to add to his Pacific Biological Laboratories stock and to further develop his theories on the effects of wave shock on the distribution of marine animals. In the decade before his seminal trip to the Gulf of California, he had begun to piece together the concept in a series of three philosophical essays that articulated the components of his holistic worldview: “The Philosophy of Breaking Through,” “A Spiritual Morphology of Poetry,” and “Essay on Non-teleological Thinking.” John Steinbeck included a version of the latter essay in the log portion of Sea of Cortez, which he composed in mid-1941.
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