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Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas 1st Edition

51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805046717
ISBN-10: 0805046712
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Editorial Reviews Review

The oceans of the world rank foremost among humankind's last great frontiers, and their climatological and ecological workings remain mysterious to all but specialists. In this lively, well-written survey, marine scientist Carl Safina encourages readers to take a wider interest in the oceans, especially because so much of that great blue expanse is now threatened by human progress. Safina notes, for example, that the North Atlantic's tuna population has fallen by more than 90 percent in just the last few decades. It has gone the way of cod and herring and pilot whales thanks to a combination of changing global temperatures, overfishing, pollution, inland watershed and delta destruction, and other causes--many of them attributable to human activities. Even now, he notes, many Pacific fishing fleets use cyanide to catch fish, a process that destroys sensitive marine ecosystems. Safina's tour of the world's waters may inspire readers to press for changes in the way that fish is brought to their tables, and to take a more careful look at the natural processes that govern this watery planet.

From Library Journal

Other than fishers and oceanographers, few people have taken note of the worldwide decline of fish populations. Sounding an alarm, Safina argues that we must extend a sense of biological community to ocean animals.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 458 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co; 1st edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805046712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805046717
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Safina's work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs the steering committee of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and is founding president of the not-for-profit organization, The Safina Center. He hosted the 10-part PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. His writing appears in The New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Orion, and other periodicals and on the Web at National Geographic News and Views, Huffington Post, and He lives on Long Island, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By on July 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I cannot, absolutely cannot, stress of how much import this book is. Safina writes of politics, poverty, economics, history, technical minutiae, and biological science with the flair of a poet - combined with passages that will make you weep for their ability to communicate the visceral experience of what it's like beneath the water. It's not just a book about marine biology - it's an extended essay on the forces that have shaped civilization at the end of the millennium and its relation to the world at large. The hardest thing is to get across how compulsively readable it is - digressions into issues involving privitization of land and the beuracratical nightmare of listing a species as endangered are communicated so lucidly, cleverly, and with such humanity that the book never devloves into that category called boring that would cause most people to skip it. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I wish everyone in that region would read Safina's exhaustive overview of the destruction of the salmon fisheries. Only now, later in life, do I have a clear picture of what those headlines I saw as a kid even meant.
And somewhere within all this, you discover that not only is Safina an objective scientist, an environmentalist who cares for the well being of other humans and is actually concerned for the plight of those who make their living off the seas; he is also a gifted writer.
I kid you not. This is a book about marine science. It made me bawl like a baby. It is, despite it's complex issues, so innately human. And that's what makes it essential. Safina is no tree hugging environmentalist - he appraises it with a keen eye for its beauty and its terror but is also a firece guardian - of the system which allows us to live with it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By susan cassels on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Is it a novel, a journey through the seas, or a scientific work describing the demise of fishes around the world while offering policy suggestions? It doesn't matter what kind of book it is- it may be all in one. What matters is that Carl Safina has written a book, Song for the Blue Ocean, which tells the story of living oceans; a book that catches your attention through adventure and interesting characters, witty writing, strong emotion, and terse opinions strewn amongst simple science.
In the preface, Safina mentions that he will be our guide and interpreter, but ultimately we have to make our own decisions regarding what the oceans and their inhabitants really mean to us. Nonetheless, I feel quite comfortable following Safina's lead. After receiving his doctorate in ecology and starting a career as an academic, Safina decided that he needed to take a stronger stand on conservation and scientific policy regarding the world's imperiled fish. He founded and now directs the National Audubon Society's Living Oceans Program, and wrote Song for the Blue Ocean merely 10 years after graduate school. Safina has a unique and open perspective on the state of the world's fishes, once as a commercial and sport fisherman, and now as a world-renowned scientist. Personally, I feel quite comfortable allowing Safina's guide and interpretations to influence my own opinions.
Song for the Blue Ocean is split into three distinct sections: the Northeast, the Northwest, and the Far Pacific. In addition, each section focuses on an imperiled species, namely the Giant Bluefin Tuna, pacific Salmon, and coral reefs; nonetheless, Safina is able to depict the bigger picture of the world's fisheries and common problems with these three examples.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By calikris4u on August 5, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm only about halfway through this book, but it's so moving that I decided I needed to rave now. Carl Safina uses an amazing grasp of language to paint mental pictures of what he writes about. I work in the scientific community and have spent a lot of time on that water, and his writings are not only objective and scientifically sound, he constructs them in such a way that they are beautiful. You will have a thirst for each topic and region of which he writes. I borrowed this book from the library and had vowed to buy it before I'd finished the first chapter. It has only improved as I've proceeded.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I could not put this book down. It is well written and well- balanced. Dr. Safina describes three different areas of the world, the North Atlantic, the Pacific Northwest and Palau, east of the Phillipines. He describes in detail how intricate ecosystems are, and all the complicated relationships between fish , man and the environment. He describes in wonderful detail the biology of the bluefin tuna and salmon. More importantly, he impressed me with how devastating certain fishing techniques have effected fish. I think this book should be read by everyone who cares about wildlife and the environment.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heather Holston on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book because a professor of mine mentioned he was reading it. With a background in marine biology, I began reading this book in hopes of returning to my marine roots. At times, this book had me so upset that I could not even go to sleep at night. I have been up in arms ever since trying to make people aware of the status of the world's oceans. This book is clearly well written and Safina gets to the root of the problems that the world's fisheries are experiencing. Safina was not one sided though and many sides of the issues here are explored. I recommend this book to all. I will read this book again and again.
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