From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Mallory has been “messing about” with water for a goodly while, as evinced in such books as Swimming with Hammerhead Sharks (2001) and Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano (2006, both Houghton). Here he invites readers to squeeze into Aquarius, a venerable science-station habitat resting on the sea floor at a depth of 60 feet in the Florida Keys. The readable text explains the complexities of training for a weeklong stay, the aims of the scientists on the team, and what it is like to spend 24/7 in squashed companionship in a 43' x 9' cylinder as part of a crew of seven. He groans over less-than-gourmet freeze-dried meals, recounts major inconveniences like toilet clogs (plus the somewhat unsavory solution to same), and describes a scary power outage. Sidebars contain interesting information on what the crew ate, the history of various underwater habitats, and the dangers of too-rapid decompression while returning to the surface. Full-color photos abound. Uneven in quality, they range from close-ups of the insertion of computer chips into live fish bellies to longer shots of reef residents and wet-suited divers going about their work. All in all, this is a rather nifty look at scientists busily at work on interesting projects, all the while living like human hermit crabs in a shell-type lab.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
A science writer and a photojournalist document seven days spent under 60 feet of water in what is currently the world’s only underwater science lab. Positioned to observe wildlife in a coral reef near the Florida Keys, Aquarius is a mobile home–sized steel cylinder that typically houses six aquanauts for one- or two-week missions. This clearly written, personal account, illustrated with well-captioned, color photos, tells of the men’s extensive training, their experience living in tight quarters underwater, the wildlife they observed from inside and outside Aquarius, and their part in a mission to tag and track fish electronically. Several excellent inserts present topics from “Why Pressure Matters” to divers and the history of underwater habitats. Back matter includes a glossary and lists of recommended books and websites. Young people intrigued by marine biology will want to join Mallory and Skerry on this journey beneath the sea. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan