Oceans: Exploring the Hidden Depths of the Underwater World.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Iyengar, Erika
Pub Date: 11/01/2009
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: Nov-Dec, 2009 Source Volume: 71 Source Issue: 9
Topic: NamedWork: Oceans: Exploring the Hidden Depths of the Underwater World (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Rose, Paul; Laking, Anne
Accession Number: 246348922
Full Text: Oceans: Exploring the Hidden Depths of the Underwater World. By Paul Rose and Anne Laking. 2009. University of California Press and BBC Books. (ISBN 978-0-52026028-3) 240 pp. Hardcover. $34.95


Gorgeous, clear, glossy pictures that cover a wide range of ocean views are scattered throughout this coffee table-style book that recounts the discoveries of four adventurers (a dive trainer to the U.S. Navy, a maritime archaeologist, a marine biologist/oceanographer, and conservationist Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau) over a year-long ocean exploration. While there is a preponderance of marine mammals pictured, there are also sharks, fish, and a few (sadly few) invertebrates besides reef-forming corals, as well as interesting satellite-perspective images of various locales and some intertidal and terrestrial views. The schematic diagrams are clear and the figure legends accompanying the pictures and schematics are thorough and interesting. The book contains seven chapters, separated by geographic region: the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Sea of Cortez (in Mexico), the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Southern Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean, as well as an introduction and a foreword by Philippe Cousteau. On most pages, there is a highlighted quote that is pulled out from the text in larger font to catch your interest, and largely these quotes are tremendously effective.

The book does not expand our scientific knowledge much by exploring new areas. Most of the content has been documented elsewhere, and the photos presented are not unusual photographs, just very nice ones. This is a beautiful book for perusal by an ocean enthusiast (or even someone just discovering the wonders of the ocean), especially for the price, but it does not present scientifically many of the pressing issues and cutting-edge research being performed in the ocean today. There is, however, an interesting blend of biology, oceanography, and archaeology, historical and present-day information, interspersed with personal anticipation and reflective accounts of the adventure that occurred. I, as a life-long lover of the ocean, learned a number of new interesting facts, and certainly enjoyed the read. The authors make an effort to cover many of the pressing threats to the oceans (overharvesting, warming temperatures, trash) as well as the wonders, but typically the discussion of the problems is a simple outline of the issue and no citations for further, more concrete information or scientific work performed on the subject. The writing is clear, fluid, and interesting, effectively conveying the passion the writers have for their subject. The information is separated into logical sections so even a short perusal can be informative. But again, the real attraction of this book is the amazing pictures, which make it a steal for the price.

One irksome issue needs noting: There is an entire page extolling the wonder of CCRs (closed-circuit rebreather units), which recycle a diver's exhaled air so that bubbles are not released into the water. While this trait is a boon to professional underwater photographers, rebreathers require significant care and continual maintenance to avoid unexpected, deadly malfunctions. The authors even state: "So if you want to dive long, deep and silently you should always opt for a CCR." Making such blanket statements is a dangerous thing, especially in a book meant for recreational divers. I know almost no one who uses rebreathers, and I know many scientific and recreational divers. CCRs are powerful equipment, but they should be used only by those knowledgeable of the risks and necessary precautions. Not discussing at least some of the draw-backs and potential dangers of this equipment is unconscionable.

especially for the price

Erika Iyengar

Associate Professor

Biology Department

Muhlenberg College

Allentown, PA

Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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