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Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks, and Living Undersea with Ocean Experts Hardcover – September 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 178 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226678709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226678702
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sea has always inspired tales of adventure and discovery in the face of a vast, unpredictable unknown. Prager, chief scientist at the undersea research station Aquarius Reef Base, in the Florida Keys, uses adventure to frame this collection of firsthand accounts about the challenges faced by marine scientists. But adventure is a far cry from glamour: research often means close quarters on a small ship, usually with bad food, infrequent showers and changeable weather, as well as long days of collecting data. With tongue only slightly in cheek, Prager offers advice for any field scientist: always bring spare pencils and be prepared for things to go wrong, from pirates to valuable equipment getting lost or damaged. In exchange, scientists look forward to the sense-of-wonder moments: swimming with whale sharks, seeing St. Elmo's Fire dance along the rigging. Focused on adventure rather than in-depth science, this entertaining book will appeal most to casual and younger readers. 4 color and 28 b&w illus. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"The sea has always inspired tales of adventure and discovery in the face of a vast, unpredictable unknown. Prager, chief scientist at the undersea research station Aquarius Reef Base, in the Florida Keys, uses adventure to frame this collection of firsthand accounts about the challenges faced by marine scientists. But adventure is a far cry from glamour: research often means close quarters on a small ship, usually with bad food, infrequent showers and changeable weather, as well as long days of collecting data. With tongue only slightly in cheek, Prager offers advice for any field scientist: always bring spare pencils and be prepared for things to go wrong, from pirates to valuable equipment getting lost or damaged. In exchange, scientists look forward to the sense-of-wonder moments: swimming with whale sharks, seeing St. Elmo's Fire dance along the rigging. Focused on adventure rather than in-depth science, this entertaining book will appeal most to casual and younger readers."
(Publisher's Weekly 2008-07-01)

“‘Going into the field is an exciting, challenging, and inspiring part of doing ocean science; it is also essential,’ writes Prager, currently chief scientist of the undersea research station Aquarius Reef Base. Using anecdotes from colleagues and from her own career, she succeeds in showing the reader that doing science can be both fun and thrilling, especially when it involves work in and on the ocean. She also reminds us that field research is important to doing good science and that learning more about the world’s oceans is essential to our future.”

(Library Journal)

“In Chasing Science at Sea, Ellen Prager tells amazing stories about her experiences on the water, as well as those of other researchers who have dared face its known and unknown dangers. Through these tales, and from the passion with which she writes about the creatures of the sea, the reader will understand how important the oceans are to our lives.”

(Jim Fowler, Honorary President of the Explorers Club and cohost of Mutual of Oma)

“Dr. Prager’s book captures the thrilling personal and professional experiences of being at sea and observing how the ocean works firsthand. Oceanography is a contact science, so it is essential to be out there to understand what is going on in this fast-changing, dynamic environment. Her collection of experiences does an excellent job visualizing the excitement of ocean exploration and discovery. It brought back many fond memories and is just delightful to read.”

(Robert B. Gagosian, President and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership)

"Thank you, Ellen Prager, for your salute to the ocean and the wild and wonderful people who explore the sea. I laughed out loud while absorbing serious insights about the state of the ocean and what it really takes for scientists to extract deep knowledge from the deep blue. Science fiction is really tame compared to the reality you have captured in this saga of ocean science.”
(Sylvia A. Earle, Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society)

"Prager, chief scientist of the world's only undersea station, in Florida, presents a well-organized introduction to marine science enlivened by the story of her own personal path into the profession. Through dozens of anecdotes of wave scientists, marine geologists, tsunami researchers, underwater archaeologists, and many others, Prager casually reveals the vast number and variety of interests pursued in the sea. She speaks to one expert about tumor viruses affecting undersea creatures and another whose specialty is bioluminescence. Everyone has a story of discovery to share, and Prager's ability to zero in on astonishing facts makes for an enormously appealing book. The heavy emphasis on fieldwork allows scientists to stress the more exciting aspects of the professions (from watching whale sharks feed to skirting the edges of a hurricane). As an unorthodox handbook for would-be ocean scientists, this title is invaluable. Pair it with William Sargent's Writing Naturally (2006) to reveal the way to a personally fulfilling scientific career."

(Booklist 2008-09-01)

"Ellen Prager’s new book, Chasing Science at Sea, is a personal account of why fieldwork is so important in many areas of ocean science, and how exciting that fieldwork can be. Prager has interwoven her own story of studying carbonates at the interface between biology and geology with stories from friends and colleagues. Storm stories and up-close-and-personal encounters with ocean creatures such as reef squid, marine iguanas, and whales abound. Throughout the book, she emphasizes the idea that the combination of observations and serendipity plays a critical role in science, and she gives examples of where this combination has led to especially important discoveries. . . .
Readers will enjoy the sea stories, personal reminiscences, and enthusiasm that permeate this book. In addition, this book should be very popular with young and future scientists who want a taste of what oceanography can be like."
(Cindy Lee Eos 2008-12-01)

"Written in a welcoming, conversational tone, the book not only entertains but delivers some important lessons that will prove useful to any student considering a career in field research. At the core of these lessons is the idea that working at sea can be rewarding, but it's far from glamorous....Highly recommended."
(Choice 2009-02-01)

"[Prager's] highly readable stories show the human side of scientists as well as the challenges of conducting research on the high sea, in the deep ocean, or near to shore....Prager’s flair for story-telling, even when the stories aren’t her own but those of colleagues, makes the book an enjoyable read. Her tales have certainly made me appreciate even more my own career in ocean science research and education."
(Leslie R. Sautter Nature Geoscience 2009-03-01)

"Ellen Prager’s delightful and engrossing book, Chasing Science at Sea, is a compilation of hundreds of field stories from marine scientists of all disciplines. They are woven together with interesting facts, descriptions of various field activities, and the lessons learned from setbacks to create a rich and multifaceted portrayal of the world of marine field research. But the purpose of these stories is more than just to entertain. As ocean science has become increasingly dependent on remote technologies, fieldwork has become harder to fund, less prevalent, and more difficult to undertake. Ellen Prager’s hope is that these stories will illustrate the value of fieldwork, inspire the next generation of students to a renewed commitment to field-based research, and help preserve some of the history and experiences of modern marine scientists. . . . . Chasing Science at Sea truly succeeds in communicating the challenges, excitement, and sheer fun of marine science in a way that is accessible to all."

(Alice Alldredge Oceanography)

More About the Author

As a marine scientist, Ellen Prager has journeyed to exotic locales to study the sea, lived in an undersea laboratory for more than a week to do research on coral reefs and broadcast into schools, and now spends much of her time bringing earth and ocean science to the public. She is known nationally for her ability to make science understandable, relevant, and especially entertaining for the layperson. She is a frequently requested speaker at a wide variety of events, from Capitol Hill to aquariums and classrooms, and has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN's Larry King, Discovery Channel and more.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Chasing Science" is a relatively short, yet informative look at the world of marine science. Covering oceanography, geology, marine biology and other lesser known sciences, the book provides a feel for the life of a marine scientist. It is well written and very easy to read, but is lacking in depth. It consists mainly of very short stories of what can be expected if you enter the world of marine science. There are a few facts, but do not expect great detail.

If you are expecting moderate or heavy science from this book, you will be disappointed. The book, however, works well as an introductory look at the world of marine science and I would highly recommend it to non scientists and to students who may be interested in making marine science a career.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Linda K. Glover on October 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful little book! Very accessible; very enlightening.
The sea stories--all by ocean scientists--are engaging and often quite humorous. They share important knowledge about the ocean, but also the unexpected ways much of that knowledge is gained.
The stories include scientists SCUBA diving, sailing, making long cruises on research ships, and living for days underwater. They give a great sense not only of the results, but of the unique challenges for scientists working in the ocean environment, and the importance of them continuing to do so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ken Randall on May 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My young son is interested in oceanography and science - we found this book to be an excellent behind the scenes look at life as a scientist and researcher doing fieldwork. The collection of short anecdotal stories were a perfect format for a young mind to wrap his brain around in one sitting. It seems to me this book would be a great start for the Animal Planet Cable Channel's next reality science show.

Many of the research, places and events described in the book provided an excellent segway to do further father-son Web research and investigation. Next stop, Googling and YouTubing the author! (Check back with this review in 15 years to see what long term effect the book had on my son's education - he's only 7 now!)
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