Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans

Sylvia Earle

Published by Ballantine Books, 1996
ISBN 10: 0449910652 / ISBN 13: 9780449910658
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Synopsis: Internationally renowned as the ambassador-at-large to the world's oceans, Sylvia Earle is an extraordinary woman--the former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a distinguished marine biologist, a veteran of more than 6,000 hours underwater, the founder of an ocean engineering firm, and an eloquent advocate for marine conservation. Sea Change is at once the gripping adventure story of Earle's three decades of undersea exploration, an insider's introduction to the dynamic field of marine biology, and an urgent plea for the preservation of the world's fragile and rapidly deteriorating ocean ecosystems.

Earle takes us along on journeys to places of unimaginable beauty and unutterable destruction. She conjures up the exhilaration of swimming with humpback whales off the coast of Maui; she makes us comprehend the true environmental tragedy of the massive oil spills in Prince William Sound and the Persian Gulf; and she leads us out into Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the epitome of ocean wilderness but also the final resting place for tons of waste that drift in from thousands of miles away. This brilliant, thought-provoking, superbly readable book will inspire a new reverence for the majesty of the world's oceans even as it opens our eyes to the intricate interdependence of all life-forms.

Review: What have we learned since 1951, when Rachel Carson's charming The Sea Around Us was published, winning so many hearts and the National Book Award? The sea below us, as pioneering marine biologist Sylvia Earle and others have demonstrated, churns with far more life than Carson ever dreamed. Sea Change is an enthusiastic celebration of that diversity and abundance. It's also a profoundly sobering account of the shortsighted human assault on ocean life. The "silent tide," as one reviewer wrote, may lie just offshore. Only a sea change in human habits and economies will save the oceans.

Like Carson, Earle carved a place for herself in the public imagination despite resistance from those in her male-dominated field. Her tales of underwater adventure--including many record-breaking dives among the 6,000 hours she has spent underwater--are punctuated by stories about her increasing prominence as an advocate for the oceans. She's seen it all, it seems: a year diving with whales in Hawaii, visits to Prince William Sound and the Persian Gulf in the aftermath of colossal oil spills, etc. Her breezy prose won't win her the National Book Award, but few others wear Rachel Carson's mantle as gracefully. That is reason enough to read Sea Change. --Pete Holloran

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Title: Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 1996
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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