This latest title in the "Of the World" series - the seventeenth - covers that fascinating group of animals whose evolution into their present forms and life-styles seems almost contradictory. While seals, sea lions and walruses are indeed mammals, their habitat is very much an aquatic one, their limbs now fully adapted for swimming rather than land locomotion. The various families of the order Pinnipedia - fur seals, sea lions, walruses and the phocid seals - are described and illustrated. Evolution, classification, distribution, life-cycles, zoology and their current status and future are all fully discussed. In addition, the complex question of their relationship with humans is examined. As with other marine-dwelling mammals, the issues are controversial. In examining topics such as conflicts between seals and fishing and culling and the fur trade, expert author Nigel Bonner adopts a professional and unemotional approach, based on first-hand knowledge and much experience. Their aquatic life and the remoteness of their habitats make the seals and their kin hard to study. Yet encounters with these species have produced in many people a particularly strong response, sometimes becoming sentimental. This book sensibly places them in context through a clear understanding of their natural history and their interactions with humans. The text is enhanced throughout by some 100 color photographs, detailed diagrams and maps.