In my life and my writing I explore our relationship with nature, especially the sea.
An early interest in fishing led me eventually into ocean science and studies of seabirds, which earned a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University.
In the 1990s, I helped lead campaigns to ban high-seas driftnets, re-write U. S. federal fisheries law, work toward international conservation of tunas, sharks, and other fishes, and achieve passage of a United Nations global fisheries treaty. During that time I turned increasingly to writing, for the power I recognized in written words.
I've written six books. I consider myself very, very lucky to have had the opportunity to develop as a writer and to be published, and to travel widely in the course of researching my books. Also very luckily, my books have attracted some generous recognition. My first book, Song for the Blue Ocean, was chosen a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Los Angeles Times Best Nonfiction selection, and a Library Journal Best Science Book selection; it won the Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction. My second book, Eye of the Albatross, won the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing and was chosen by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine as the year's best book for communicating science. Voyage of the Turtle was a N. Y. Times Editors' Choice. My first children's book was published in 2010.
The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World (new in 2011), is, I think, my best work to date. It's both very personal and global. it's main conclusion is that nature and human dignity require each other.
I'm also scheduled to have another book, about the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout, published in April 2011. It's about both the series of bad decisions leading to the blowout, and the emotional topography of the season of anguish that followed, including the often inane response.
In addition to my books I've written a lot of scientific and popular publications, including featured work in National Geographic and The New York Times, and a Foreword to Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us. I've been profiled on Nightline and twice in the New York Times; received Chicago's Brookfield Zoo's Rabb Medal, been named among "100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century" by Audubon magazine, and featured on the Bill Moyers PBS special "Earth on Edge." My writing has been supported by fellowships from Pew, World Wildlife Fund, and Guggenheim, and by a MacArthur prize.