Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: The World is Blue, by Sylvia Earle

National Geographic, Washington, DC, 2010 edition. 319pp.

Earle, Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, here provides a highly readable and compelling “state of the oceans” report.  The facts and figures are all here, but they are mixed with anecdotes and vivid descriptions of marine life to keep the reader in the right context.  Earle argues for more protected marine reserves (they covered less than one percent of the ocean when she wrote the book, an improved but still fragile two percent here in 2014), better regulation of fishing, and many other measures to halt the sharp decline in ocean productivity and biodiversity.  (One of her best points is that American hunters can take millions of ducks every year because there are enough protected marchlands and flyways to ensure the duck population can stay healthy.)   She touches on all the major groups of marine life and describes the latest in submersibles and other technology, although she points out there are far too few vessels, crewed or robotic, to properly explore the oceans.  Through all this runs a thread tracing the development of marine conservation efforts, in the U.S. and internationally.  One of my heroes of exploration and conservation, “Her Deepness” has here made a contribution that should be read by everyone interested in marine life and conservation – which essentially means everyone, since the Earth (as she quotes another scientists as pointing out) IS a marine habitat.

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