A Q&A with Julia Whitty, Author of Deep Blue Home
Q: Where did Deep Blue Home come from?
A: I made nature documentaries about the oceans for years and my second book, The Fragile Edge, was a love letter to the coral reefs of the world. But in this book I wanted to circulate to the ocean's farthest fetch and depth and bring its stories and science ashore, so that people in the landlocked hearts of our continents would see how this water world gives us life.
Q: What did it take to write this book?
A: I've been traveling on and under the oceans since my teenage days, first in science, later in documentary filmmaking, and since 2000 as a writer. I've been fortunate to visit some of Earth's most wondrous wet places and meet the people working there, the biologists, oceanographers, fishermen, wilderness guides, and locals. The book is called "an intimate ecology" because it's a very personal story of a life spent adrift on currents of curiosity and adventure.
Q: What kind of adventures have you had?
A: In my early science work, I was anchored to a tiny, remote, uninhabited island in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, home to half a million seabirds and nothing else. Filmmaking adventures took me all over the world, from diving with sperm whales off the Galapagos to diving on Arctic icebergs to experiencing the extremophile communities living below the reach of sunlight on the deep sea floor. Writing adventures have swept me out to sea in wild weather with scientists sampling the living pulse of the ocean as a way to measure changes underway from climate change.
Q: What inspires you about the ocean?
A: The seashore is a place of inspiration and introspection for many. Offshore the wonders only multiply. What we're learning today about the remote and deep ocean is bigger, deeper, darker, colder, farther, older than anything we could have imagined even 25 years ago. Technology combined with a growing lineage of scientific knowledge allows us to explore what we previously couldn't even imagine. We visit communities of life thriving thousands of feet below Antarctic ice. We follow pairs of mated seabirds flying 44,000-mile figure-eight loops around the Pacific between their nesting seasons. We magnify ocean water and find bacterial species in excess of 10 million.
Q: Do you have a favorite place in the ocean?
A: The beauty of the ocean is that it's profoundly connected by its constantly moving waters. Most ocean life is nomadic, at least for some stage of its development. Jellyfish drift through their adulthood yet are anchored to the seafloor when they're young. The opposite is true for many fish that inhabit a small corner of the seafloor in adulthood yet drift as plankton in their larval stages. The majority of sea life follows temperature gradients the way we follow roads and highways. Which means that a changing climate carries marine life with it. The ocean defies all our anchors.
Q: Do you consider the ocean your home?
A: The deep blue home is home to all of us no matter our address. We feel the gravitational pull of its tides and the spiritual lift of its infinite horizon. Today we understand that it's also the single most powerful arbiter of well-being for the seven billion human beings living on a small planet misnamed Earth. In my career on the water, I’ve witnessed some of the ocean's many miracles, absorbed its punishments, felt my way along the edges of its unexplored frontiers, dived with its musclemen and its ballerinas, sailed with its swashbucklers and exiles. Working beside scientists, I’ve learned to translate a word of two of the ocean’s native tongues. The time I’ve spent at sea has also proven a brief yet decisive window into changes underway: oceanic problems, once local, now gone pandemic to compromise the equilibrium allowing us to flourish. Yet nature is beneficent too. For every reprimand from the deep blue home, we are offered a dozen forgivenesses. When we listen, we can hear its song of sustainability.
(Photo © Sharon Urquhart)
Whitty, a writer and environmentalist, gives us a book worthy of the title. She is a wonderful writer – while we have many good nature/science writers (Angier, Safina, et. al. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Matthew A. Bille
I love this Julia Whitty's books. She has a real gift for presenting her experience from a scientist's (and explorer's) point of view, in very poetic, universal writing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Teresa J. Black
This is a very interesting and beautifully written book. Whitty uses her various experiences in the scientific world to show how the fate of the oceans will determine the future of... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kristin
We spent three full summer seasons on our sailboat in the Bahia de Los Angeles area. This book describes the place and wildlife beautifully. Read morePublished 16 months ago by S/V Nakia
I found that the author, Julia Whitty, pictures herself in her new book, Deep Blue Home more as an invader than a visitor. And she's right. Read morePublished 18 months ago by D. Wayne Dworsky
Such a wonderful book that brings the reader to a closer connection with the world's oceans. I felt like I was scuba diving when I was reading Deep Blue Home.Published 23 months ago by Tess Duberville
Whitty writes a good story. I particularly liked learning more about the ecology of Baja California. The vignettes are captivating, but not comprehensive.Published on April 14, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I'm ashamed to admit that I practice avoidance. The truth is that it all seems to be too much for me at times. War, climate change politics... Read morePublished on April 6, 2013 by K.Wagner
Deep Blue Home is an elegy for the ocean, a vital part of our planet that we still only partially understand, yet upon which we have inflicted an enormous amount of wanton damage. Read morePublished on January 5, 2013 by Acorn