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Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival Paperback – April 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Five hours northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands by propjet there are series of islands and atolls that are the breeding grounds of tens of thousands of sea birds. Of the many species of birds that breed there, the largest, the one that must be wrapped in the most superlatives, is the Laysan Albatross. And one Laysan Albatross, that Safina names Amelia, is the principle subject and unifying thread of this book.
From Coelridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to the horrifying pollution of our ocean, Amelia is the eye through which we view her astonishing world. Amelia is tagged with a small satellite transmitter, and Safina includes maps showing the travels Amelia makes to feed herself and her chick. The distances beggar the imagination. Through her eyes and her journeys, Safina touches on the host of issues and breathtaking wonders of the the fauna of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
It's a tour de force, and I recommend it to you.
This book is beautifully written and is a passionate call for us to care for our oceans. It offers all the following: natural history, study of a bird species, travelogue, environmental science, oceanography, cultural and economic commentary, and finally, a geography and history lesson. Starting where he always does, Safina begins with a focus on his main interest - the huge ecosystem that is the worlds oceans. We take the perspective of the masters of the oceanic skies - the albatross - and Safina is creative in using a tagged and satellite-tracked individual bird "Amelia" to give us a unique look through the EYE OF THE ALBATROSS.
Safina is somewhat of a romantic visionary and has a gift for the poetic phrase. The images however are not all about beautiful seascapes, tropical islands and exotic ports-of-call. Hardly. His description of a feeding scene between a mother albatross and her chick at a nesting colony is literally gut-wrenching. After being fed by its parent on regurgigated squid "the chick begs for more. The adult arches her neck and retches again. Nothing comes". Although Safina has a penchant for criticizing human economics and uses this case to do so, we can't help but see his point as he continues. "Slowly comes the surreal sight of a green plastic toothbrush emerging from the bird's gullet. With her neck arched, the mother cannot fully pass the straight brush. She tries several times to disgorge it, but can't.Read more ›
By Colin Woodard
Humans and albatrosses have a lot in common. We both live for many decades, possibly a century. Our reproductive patterns are similar. Albatrosses take as long as 13 years to mature, engage in courtships that can last two years or more, and raise a single chick every other year (or three to four years for some species.) Albatrosses, like ourselves, are found from the Antarctic to the Far North and most places in between.
Of course, we spend our time on earth very differently. Albatrosses spend 95 percent of it at sea, usually in flight. They come ashore only to breed and nest, and even then they are constantly flying off on 2,000- to 3,000-mile foraging runs to collect each feeding for their chick. They can fly for many days without stopping, sleeping on the wing, wandering from tropical to subpolar seas in the course of a single foraging run.
Carl Safina wondered what we might learn about the world if we could see it from their perspective. Now, after shadowing these great birds by foot, ship, and satellite, he has painted a beautiful, awe-inspiring tableau of our world as you've never seen it: an interconnected universe of wind and waves, sun-blasted islands, teeming polar seas, broad-winged birds, and the far-reaching effects of civilization.
"Almost everything about the albatross is superlative and extreme," Safina writes. They're huge, with an 11-foot wingspan. Masters of long-distance flight, they use less energy soaring over a stormy sea than they do while sitting quietly on their nests. They endure equatorial heat and ferocious Arctic storms, sometimes on the same feeding trip. And they travel far: By 50 years of age, a typical albatross has logged nearly 4 million miles.Read more ›
*STARRED REVIEW* Safina, Carl. Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival. May 2002. 416p. illus. index. Holt/John Marcae, (0-8050-6228-9). 598.4.
The Wandering Albatross, a magnificent seabird built for gliding and endurance, travels millions of miles over the course of its long life as it wings from the tiny tropical islands on which it breeds to the subarctic waters in which it feeds and back again. Safina, an insightful, reform-minded, and splendidly literary scientist in the manner of Rachel Carson, employs one particular albatross, dubbed Amelia and outfitted with a transmitter for satellite tracking, as his guide to the ocean world in this riveting marine chronicle. As he did in SONG FOR THE BLUE OCEAN (1997), Safina, a MacArthur "genius" and Lannan Literary Award winner, explicates and celebrates the wonders of the sea, and details and decries our species' destructive impact on it. "Everything people are doing to the ocean, albatrosses feel," Safina writes, describing such wrethced sights as adult seabirds being pulled to their death by fishing nets and hooks, or regurgitating toothbrushes and cigarette lighters along with food for hungry chicks. But Safina contrasts a sobering overview of past and present abominations with lively accounts of the corrective endeavors of enlightened marine biologists to support his optimistic view of an ecologically sound future. Communication is key to positive change, and Safina's superlative report is both catalyst and inspiration.
In this beautifully written work, Safina blends history and science
to offer, in a seamlessly telescoped style, first an ecosystem, then a
species, and finally one bird, the last as compellingly drawn as the
protagonist of a novel. The general reader cannot fail to be pulled deeply
into natural history by reading it.
--Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book very much. It is very enlightening to read about the perils faced by these amazing sea birds.Published 14 days ago by John Carlson
Wonderful view of the life of an albatross as well as a great general ecological book.Published 19 days ago by Lousea
I hope that we may continue to co-exist with majestic albatrossen. Their population is dwindling due to commercial fishing practices and we need to do something about it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by phanTHOM
Excellent book by a naturalist who is thoroughly versed in his field and digs deep into the material of the two books I have read: Voyage of the Turtle and Eye of the Albatross. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Stephen C. Smith
I enjoyed reading about the albatrosses and other wild life that breed in the northwest islands of Hawaii. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Agrippas
A beautifully written piece about a very interesting species of bird, the albatross. Safina writes with an unusually gifted eye for interesting detail. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Anthony M. Frasca
Carl Safina must have translated albatross language when he looked them in the eye.
I was lucky to get picked by USFW when volunteers were able to go to MIdway in 2010. Read more
i loved the focus on the scientific data, the tracking of these birds is something science has only been able to do recently. Read morePublished 6 months ago by jim