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The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef Hardcover – April 13, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0471177272 ISBN-10: 047117727X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047117727X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471177272
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this work of scientific journalism, Osha Gray Davidson surveys the condition of the world's great coral-reef systems, which offer habitat to countless diverse species of marine life. Many of those systems are now threatened by development--some, ironically, by the construction of resorts for the ecotourism market. Others have been destroyed by the fishing industry's use of dynamite and cyanide to bring in catches. Some 10 percent of the world's reefs, we learn in Davidson's pages, are already damaged beyond recovery, and another 30 percent are in grave danger of joining them. Combining firsthand travel narrative with abundant documentary research, Davidson makes a good case for the importance of conserving the reefs that remain. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

"Coral reefs are the proving ground for mankind's ability to 'come to terms with nature'Aincluding our own," writes Davidson (The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South), who has lived in Key West and studied coral reefs (both above and under water) for years. Davidson traveled and dove around the world to do his research. His book includes many striking facts: oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface; coral reefs are home to approximately one-quarter of all marine species; the most widely cited estimate of square miles around the world covered by coral reefs is 240,000; Charles Darwin's first scientific book was The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (1842). And one of Davidson's most captivating chapters outlines the bizarre sex lives of fish. Despite reefs' grandeur, we humans have destroyed them at alarming rates, Davidson explains, as we have destroyed much of nature. His imaginative language (for example, "Coral reefs are the Russian novels of the sea world") and treatment of scientific terminology are impressive throughout. Davidson believes that "if we are to save the reefs, we must understand them better. But here we have come full circle, we have returned to our initial question. How do you comprehend something as complex as the coral reef?" Davidson's thorough book, which helps to do just that, will appeal primarily to environmentalists and divers but should be read by travelers to ocean settings as well. Eight pages of color photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Osha Gray Davidson is a regular contributor to Rolling Stone magazine. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Spectator, Grist, Mother Jones, The Nation, The New Republic, Salon.com, The Washington Post, Woman's Day, and Popular Science. He ran the popular Forbes.com blog, Edison 2.0, about innovations in renewable energy. He is the author of five books of non-fiction, covering topics from sea turtles (Fire in the Turtle House) to the National Rifle Association (Under Fire) to the nexus of race and class in America (The Best of Enemies). He also co-wrote the screenplay for the IMAX documentary Coral Reef Adventure. Davidson is currently a science writer at Earthzine, an online journal for fostering Earth observation and global awareness.

Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have read hundreds of articles and books about coral reefs, "The Enchanted Braid" offers one of the best introductions you could ask for into the world of coral reefs. The book features both biological and historical descriptions of coral reefs as well as reporting on what is happening today to coral reefs around the world. It is clear, well written and easy for us "non-scientists" to understand. SCUBA divers, snorkelers and anyone else who loves the ocean should read this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Gouldman (gouldmanjr@oki10.med.navy.mil) on July 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A book well written and researched for the layman. The Enchanted Braid describes the addiction to the sea that many sport diving enthusiast experience. It provides a global perspective of the mysterious plight of our coral reefs. I read the book while in Bali, Indonesia. The well travelled author's feelings about the plight of the reefs is true to form from my perspective. The message is one we all should read and heed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Jarrell on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you have no prior knowledge about reefs, this book explains and makes sense of the entire reef ecosystem. I would highly reccommend it, especially for teenagers with an interest in coral reefs and thier preservation, to spark thier interest in environmental issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joni C. Lawrence on August 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I rarely read nonfiction in bed because I fall asleep too quickly. Not so with this book. Davidson's writing is compulsively compelling. Though the book details the disturbing trends affecting the health of coral reefs worldwide, it also offers hope by describing in vivid and accessible detail how corals have survived for millenia. Though they haven't survived rapidly warming surface temperatures like we're seeing today.

Davidson describes coral reefs as "the soul of the sea" and aptly describes their biology and importance to the ocean and to humankind. The book is simultaneously a travel narrative, scientific and environmental treatise, and philosophical look at why we need to take better care of coral reefs and other precious ecosystems. Though the messages in the book are clear that coral reefs are in trouble, Davidson's writing is not filled with gloom and doom and somber predictions of a coral-less ocean. By putting coral reefs in the context of survival, he inspires hope for their future. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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Format: Hardcover
Osha Gray Davidson starts off his book about the coral reefs by telling us exactly how little we really know about the ocean. It, and the coral reefs especially, is teeming with life. He compares the biodiversity of the coral reef to the tropical rain forest and then proceeds to say that even the rain forest cannot hold a candle to the amount of different species living in, on, and around the coral reefs. It is this incredible biodiversity that makes the coral reefs such a precious treasure, but it also makes them vulnerable. There is a delicate balance between the different species on the reef that needs to be maintained or the entire reef will suffer or even die.
He then goes on to talk about how coral can be considered an animal, a mineral, and a vegetable at the same time. He also talks about the complex relationship between coral reefs, sea-grass meadows, and mangroves.
The second part of the book is about human interaction with the coral reefs and our affects on them. The author talks in depth about what is happening in Jakarta. An entire coral island called Nyamuk Besar completely disappeared. It was killed off by algae, which smother corals. The algae are attracted if the water in the area becomes too rich in nutrients. In addition to polluting the water with the algae-attracting nutrients, Jakarta also pollutes the water when heavy metals in the air from car exhaust and industrial facilities settle into Jakarta Bay.
But it is not just what humans put into the water that hurts the coral reefs, but also what we take out. The calcium laid down by generations of coral has been mined from Jakarta Bay for centuries for use in construction. This, as can be expected, is devastating to the coral reefs. Overfishing also hurts the coral reefs.
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