Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of New Mexico, 1977. 407 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 360-401).


Copyright 1977, the author. Used by permission.


Anthropological interest in human exploitation of resources has increased considerably during the last decade. Archaeological and ethnological literature concerning man's utilization of the world's oceans is relatively abundant and there are now several on-going anthropological research programs, e.g., Aleutian Islands, Pacific Northwest Coast, California, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Southern Africa which focus primarily on maritime adaptations. The purpose of this study is threefold: (1) to suggest that anthropological assumptions regarding marine food resources and their use are inadequate; (2) to examine marine ecosystems with respect to structure and dynamics, primary productivity, ecological efficiencies, distributional and quantitative aspects of marine animals, and the nutritional payoffs of marine organisms for human populations; (3) to propose several general optimal use models for the aboriginal exploitation of marine animals. More specifically, various marine food resources including shellfish, fish, and sea mammals are ranked in terms of increasing food energy and/or nutritive payoff values expressed in terms of various units of analysis.

Consideration is given to general anthropological problems related to changes in hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies, the origins of coastal adaptations, accepted estimates for aboriginal coastal population densities, and the differential subsistence payoffs for marine food resources across a latitudinal gradient. It is argued that man's exploitation of the oceans should occur late in human evolution and that marine resources are, in most cases, less than optimal food items.