Book Review: The Sea Around Us

The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson, marine biology, book review, female scientist, science, science read, April

For April’s science read, I explored the oceans in Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us. First up, I have to say – I really, really enjoyed this book. It delivered everything I was hoping for – a comprehensive, delightful, intriguing and thorough look at the territory that comprises 70% of our planet. In The Sea Around Us, Carson describes the origins of our earth’s oceans, visits prehistoric seas and marine fossils, explores the rich lively surface waters and the cold, dark depths of the oceans, the continental shelfs and vast underwater canyons, whirlpools and sea currents, tidal waves and upwellings, and so much more. It was like going for a ride with a marine David Attenborough.

Other readers have spoken about Carson’s beautiful, lyrical writing and I have to agree wholeheartedly here. Every sentence was like a poem. One could just sit and read page after page, allowing the music of her words to rush over one and transport the reader into Carson’s beloved oceans.  I really enjoyed reading the book for its poetic rhythms as much as for the knowledge behind the lines.

I don’t really have any complaints about this book, but if I were nitpicking, possibly my only gripe is that I had to keep putting it down to Google the places and animals behind Carson’s stunning descriptions – places like the Atlantic Ridge and the Sargasso Sea, the Dogger Bank of the North Sea Shelf and the maelstrom at Lofoten, winged snails and grunions. So many amazing places, so many strange and beautiful creatures – and I want to see them all!

Though The Sea Around Us was first published in 1951, I would definitely recommend it for current and future readers. The book remains as timely as ever, especially today when climate change and global warming is such a hot topic (ooh, unintentional pun there!). Like Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, I can’t help but feel The Sea Around Us should be compulsory reading for high school. Carson reminds us of just how fragile our marine ecosystem is, and how connected it is, how a change in one current stream in one ocean may affect the ecosystem of a sea on the other side of the world. And it is not just marine life that is affected by these changes but also the climate of the lands that border these oceans, determining whether these territories are arid or lush, cool or hot. The slightest change in currents and climate also have a significant effect on the marine fisheries on which we humans are so dependent on for food and livelihood, which is another clear indicator of the reasons why we should strive more than ever to understand and look after our oceans with great care.

 The Sea Around Us is a true classic and provides one with a real appreciation of our oceans and how they have shaped our world and the way we live. I have a feeling this is one book I will come back to, time and time again.

Check out my other science reads of 2016!

January – Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything

February – Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time

March – Sean Carroll’s From Eternity to Here

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  1. Pingback: May Science Read: The Invention of Nature The Salonniere's Apartments

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