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Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earthby Alanna Mitchell
Synopses & Reviews
Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to lifeandmdash;growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the worldandrsquo;s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.
Recent documentaries about swarms of giant jellyfish invading Japanese fishing grounds and summertime headlines about armadas of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean and Chesapeake are only the beginningandmdash;jellyfish are truly taking over the oceans. Despite their often dazzling appearance, jellyfish are simple creatures with simple needs: namely, fewer predators and competitors, warmer waters to encourage rapid growth, and more places for their larvae to settle and grow. In general, oceans that are less favorable to fish are more favorable to jellyfish, and these are the very conditions that we are creating through mechanized trawling, habitat degradation, coastal construction, pollution, and climate change.
Despite their role as harbingers of marine destruction, jellyfish are truly enthralling creatures in their own right, and in Stung!, Gershwin tells stories of jellyfish both attractive and deadly while illuminating many interesting and unusual facts about their behaviors and environmental adaptations. She takes readers back to the Proterozoic era, when jellyfish were the top predator in the marine ecosystemandmdash;at a time when there were no fish, no mammals, and no turtles; and she explores the role jellies have as middlemen of destruction, moving swiftly into vulnerable ecosystems. The story of the jellyfish, as Gershwin makes clear, is also the story of the worldandrsquo;s oceans, and Stung! provides a unique and urgent look at their inseparable historiesandmdash;and future.
Jesse Goossens\\\\\\\' work includes travel novels, a detective novel, works on theatre, a young adult novel and several interview collections on topics of social justice. She also worked for a considerable time as a radio host and cultural journalist, and acted and sang for ten years in a small theatre company. Her work is characterized by a fervent search for what moves people - their passions, their motivations, their lives. For her book, Plastic Soup, Jesse traveled to the United States and several European countries to interview people who are involved with the issue of plastic waste: from Captain Moore - the discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - to recyclers, from representatives of the plastic industry to delegates of environmental organizations, and from the Dutch Secretary for Environment to the director of UNEP New York. During her travels Jesse kept a blog (www.plasticsoep.nl and www.plasticsoup.org), entries for which are in Plastic Soup.
A vast amount of plastic waste - twice the size of the United States - is floating in the Pacific Ocean. Welcome to the Great Pacific Garbage Path: the Plastic Soup. Plastic is an incredible material we can't do without, but it also creates the biggest pollution problem imaginable. This is something Jesse Goossens discovers during her travels and conversations across the United States and Europe. Her blogs and interviews are shocking, fascinating and dismaying. In this full-color book, she uncovers the effects of plastic waste on our health and on the environment, not only in the Pacific Ocean, but everywhere on earth.
We have long lorded over the ocean. But only recently have we become aware of the myriad life-forms beneath its waves. We now know that this delicate ecosystem is our life-support system; it regulates the earths temperatures and climate and comprises 99 percent of living space on earth. So when we change the chemistry of the whole ocean system, as we are now, life as we know it is threatened.
In Seasick, veteran science journalist Alanna Mitchell dives beneath the surface of the worlds oceans to give readers a sense of how this watery realm can be managed and preserved, and with it life on earth. Each chapter features a different group of researchers who introduce readers to the importance of ocean currents, the building of coral structures, or the effects of acidification. With Mitchell at the helm, readers submerge 3,000 feet to gather sea sponges that may contribute to cancer care, see firsthand the lava lamp-like dead zone covering 17,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of Mexico, and witness the simultaneous spawning of corals under a full moon in Panama.
The first book to look at the planetary environmental crisis through the lens of the global ocean, Seasick takes the reader on an emotional journey through a hidden realm of the planet and urges conservation and reverence for the fount from which all life on earth sprang.
About the Author
Alanna Mitchell spent fourteen years as a writer covering science and the environment at the Globe and Mail. She is the author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots, also published by the University of Chicago Press. In 2010, Mitchell received the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment for Seasick. She is the first book author to win the Grantham Prize, and the first Canadian.
Table of Contents
1 The last best place on earth
Great Barrier Reef
2 Reading the vital signs: Oxygen
Gulf of Mexico
3 Reading the vital signs: pH
4 Reading the vital signs: Metabolism
5 Reading the vital signs: Fecundity
6 Reading the vital signs: Life force
7 Reading the vital signs: Medical history
8 Reading the vital sign that is China
9 Reading the vital signs: Adaptability
10 Finding hope
The Dry Tortugas
Epilogue: A call for wisdom
What Our Readers Are Saying
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