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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

May 03, 2019

Environmental Author, John Morano, Drawing upon Monmouth County for Inspiration

By Shanna O’Mara

John Morano NJ

Photo credit: Mark Ludak

Hours before beachgoers flooded Jersey Shore sands each day, John Morano set off for the jetties to study the fish. While families unpacked their things for fun-filled days at local parks, Morano analyzed the birds overhead.

A professor at Monmouth University and county resident, Morano has now published four books, each featuring scenes and wildlife from around the area.

“Living on the beach in Long Branch was magic,” he said. “My first book, ‘A Wing and a Prayer,’ was about the last living Guadalupe petrel, so I was constantly watching the ocean and studying the birds. My second book, ‘Makoona,’ was primarily about fish and often referred to fishing. Later, my children and I joined the piping plover initiative through Monmouth County Parks at Seven Presidents Park. We studied the plovers, oyster catchers and least terns. The plovers and the park actually made an appearance in my newest book, ‘Flocks of One.’”

makoona john marano

Makoona Cover

Morano’s books spotlight the ever-changing nuances of the modern day ecosystem. He aims to “give a voice to the voiceless.”

“Journalists speak for those who can’t speak for themselves,” he said. “I’m trying to speak for endangered creatures and imperiled habitats. They will never speak for themselves, and if their stories are not told, they might disappear. This is what I need to write. What’s really important to me is not that people read me. I want readers to meet these creatures, to get them, to understand what they’re faced with.”

Before realizing his passion for environmental activism and journalism, Morano held other notable jobs in the industry.

A wing and a prayer John Marano

A Wing and a Prayer Cover

“After working at places like CBS, Modern Screen Magazine and ROCKbeat Magazine as a critic and an editor, I attended Penn State University for a graduate degree in print journalism and later Adelphi University for graduate work in English Education,” he said. “When Monmouth University hired me to create their journalism program in 1988, I moved to Long Branch, got married, and lived on the boardwalk in a one-bedroom apartment that looked out over the ocean.”

After he and his wife found out they were expecting their first child, they moved within Monmouth County and settled down to start their family.

Inspiration struck one day as he looked out at the water in Long Branch and was greeted by a differing opinion.

“I was standing on the beach in Long Branch a few years ago with my wife watching a pod of humpback whales feed off shore. A man standing next to me removed a thick cigar from his mouth and grumbled grudgingly, ‘Well, I guess it’s their ocean, too.’ I just looked at him and said, ‘Too?’”

A confused Morano pondered the idea before deciding to take a stance and reach out to audiences about the necessity to share and protect natural resources, including the ocean.

“I don’t need people to agree with me. I’d just like them to hear me.”

Morano admits he still travels around the county, taking in the sights, sounds and lessons nature has to offer. He continues to use his experiences as a muse for potential future work.

“To this day, I spend a lot of my free time hiking streams in Monmouth County collecting Cretaceous fossils as well as other fossils and artifacts,” he said. “I’m usually thinking about story lines, settings, characters while I do this. Walking the boardwalk with my wife or hiking a stream with one of my sons, Monmouth County offers me incredible inspiration to write about nature.

“Whether I’m watching ospreys fishing on the beach or whales feeding just offshore or a kingfisher working the lake behind our home, Monmouth County has no shortage of natural wonders to inspire environmental stories.”