The Oyster War: Part 2 – Fiction As Fact

Several weeks ago, I posted on this blog a short review of the new book “The Oyster War” by Summer Brennan focusing on several important factual errors in her account. Since the book was published, book reviews and interviews with the author show the repetition of false narratives that are not driven by facts. These reviews and interviews side stepped the main point of my review, namely whether the book is indeed “The True Story …” as it is subtitled. Indeed, the book is brimming with hundreds of errors and misrepresents important facts.

One of the commenters on my original review – apparently the author’s mother – argued Brennan’s book was “diligently researched.” She challenged: “I still have to ask people if they have actually read the book.” That is an excellent question, and one I have wondered while reading other reviews.

For nearly a decade, the most important scientific charge against the oyster farm – and the one that caught the attention of both the local community and environmentalists – was that its operations were disturbing harbor seals. That charge is repeated as fact in Brennan’s book, even though the government’s expert came to the opposite conclusion. Indeed, Brennan failed to cite (or interview) the government’s independent expert, Dr. Brent Stewart of Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, who analyzed the government’s cache of hundreds of thousands of secret photographs of the oyster boats and seals and concluded that there was “no evidence” that the oyster farm disturbed the seals.

In lieu of Dr. Stewart’s detailed analysis, what data does Brennan rely on to support the claim that the oyster farm disturbed the harbor seals? Consider the key paragraph (chapter 9, page 177) where Brennan describes the government’s so-called data that the oyster farm allegedly disturbed the seals. —> Read More