Synopses & Reviews
Pioneering oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer unravels the mystery of marine currents, uncovers the astonishing story of flotsam, and changes the world's view of trash, the ocean, and our global environment.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer is no ordinary scientist. He's been a consulting oceanographer for multinational firms and a lead scientist on international research expeditions, but he's never held a conventional academic appointment. He seized the world's imagination as no other scientist could when he and his worldwide network of beachcomber volunteers traced the ocean's currents using thousands of sneakers and plastic bath toys spilled from storm-tossed freighters.
Now, for the first time, Ebbesmeyer tells the story of his lifelong struggle to solve the sea's mysteries while sharing his most surprising discoveries. He recounts how flotsam has changed the course of history--leading Viking mariners to safe harbors, Columbus to the New World, and Japan to open up to the West--and how it may even have made the origin of life possible. He chases icebergs and floating islands; investigates ocean mysteries from ghost ships to a spate of washed-up severed feet on Canadian beaches; and explores the enormous floating garbage patches and waste-heaped junk beaches that collect the flotsam and jetsam of industrial society. Finally, Ebbesmeyer reveals the rhythmic and harmonic order in the vast oceanic currents called gyres--the heartbeat of the world --and the threats that global warming and disintegrating plastic waste pose to the seas . . . and to us.
“With a whimsical mood overlaying serious science, Ebbesmeyers work will appeal to the environmentally minded.” Booklist
“Part oceanography lesson, part memoir, this cheerful book examines Ebbesmeyers life and work as a pioneering oceanographer (the first to work for Mobil/Standard Oil, in 1969) and connoisseur of beach-combed artifacts.” Publishers Weekly
Whether you want to learn more about how the oceans tick or how we are affecting our environment, or to reminisce about science not being what it used to be, this is a very enjoyable, if at times dark, book. Nature
“Light and lively...Shoes, messages in bottles, and floating rubber ducks have kept Ebbesmeyers eye on the big picture. Besides, as readers will readily agree, theyve been a lot of fun to study.” Natural History magazine
“As much genial personal memoir as pop-oceanography exposition…When science goes right, we discover how mid-ocean spills of hockey gloves or rubber ducks enhance oceanographic understanding; The Guardian
Pioneering oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer seized the world's imagination when he and his worldwide network of beachcomber volunteers traced ocean currents using thousands of sneakers and plastic bath toys spilled from storm-tossed freighters. Now, for the first time, Ebbesmeyer tells the story of his lifelong quest to solve the sea's mysteries. He recounts how flotsam has changed the course of history. He reveals the rhythmic and harmonic order in the vast oceanic currents and uncovers the astonishing story of flotsam, altering the world's view of trash, the ocean, and our global environment.
“Ebbesmeyers goal is noble and fresh: to show how the flow of ocean debris around the world reveals ‘the music of the worlds oceans.”
—New York Times Book Review
Through the fascinating stories of flotsam, one of the Earths greatest secrets is revealed. In Flotsametrics and the Floating World, maverick scientist Curtis Ebbesmeyer details how his obsession with floating garbage—from rubber ducks to discarded Nike sneakers—helped to revolutionize ocean science. Scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki, host of CBC TVs “The Nature of Things,” calls Flotsametrics and the Floating World “Science and storytelling at its very best.” “A very enjoyable, if at times dark, book” (Nature), it is must reading for anyone interested in Oceanography, Environmental Science, and the way our world works.
About the Author
Curtis Ebbesmeyer holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington. Media worldwide have turned to his expertise on ocean currents and floating objects. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Eric Scigliano, winner of Livingston and AAAS prizes for reporting, has written for Harper's, New Scientist, the New York Times, and many other publications. His books include Puget Sound, Michelangelo's Mountain, and Love, War, and Circuses.