In The Edge Of The Sea Rachel Carson tells us that “the edge of the sea is a strange and wonderful place” – and I couldn’t agree more. Carson focuses on plants and invertebrates that live between lowest and highest tides from Newfoundland to the Florida Keys. It is a book meant to be read for practical identification or pure pleasure – not easy to pull off. First published in 1955, The Edge Of The Sea is still a best seller. One reviewer calls Carson’s prose “hauntingly beautiful”.
Susan Casey’s The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean takes readers on a deep-sea global tour – from myths of ancient worlds, deep storied shipwrecks we can now reach, and scientists trying to understand the mind-blowing complexity and ecological importance of quadrillions of creatures who live in realms long thought to be devoid of life. Along the way we learn about increasing threats from climate change, industrial fishing, pollution, and mining companies exploring the depths. A glorious tribute to nature, this is also a weighty call to arms.
In The Ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents marine biologist Cindy Van Dover tells the story of hidden magical worlds featuring giant clams, tubeworms, and eyeless shrimp – deep-sea hot-water springs found along sea-floor spreading rifts discovered in 1977. Van Dover is the first and only woman to pilot the Alvin, one of the first deep-sea submersibles.
I was a grad student at the Marine Biological Laboratory, up the street from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), Alvin’s home base and remember the excitement it created. In Alvin scientists study plate tectonics, hydrothermal vents, discover strange sea life — and even explored the RMS Titanic in 1986 after WHOI scientist Bob Ballard located the famed shipwreck. The submersible also helped the Navy locate a missing hydrogen bomb from World War II.