- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Island Press; None edition (August 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559636378
- ISBN-13: 978-1559636377
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,515,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Empty Ocean None Edition
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“[A] splendid example of history illuminating ecology, with well-chosen facts that enable us to picture a largely invisible catastrophe.”
About the Author
Richard Ellis is the author of 15 books, including The Book of Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Book of Sharks, Imagining Atlantis, The Search for the Giant Squid, Aquagenesis, and The Empty Ocean. A research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a contributor to many magazines, Ellis is also a celebrated artist. His paintings and drawings of marine life have been exhibited in museums around the world.
Top customer reviews
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The book focuses on two age old problems; an infinite population versus a finite food source, and man's greedy Draconian methods used to enhance his own pocket book. Long line fishing boats with 60 to 100 miles of fishing line strung out across the waves dangling thousands of baited hooks is bound to catch "something!"
This book is truly a cornucopia of resource material injected with the author's personal caustic innuendos that serve to highlight his zealous crusade against the onslaught and waste by big corporations and sea food distributors.
A good read, but perhaps an even better source of historical statistics and research for tomorrow's promising marine biologists.
Ellis has put a great deal of effort into his topic. His realism and propensity to "tell it like it is" will slice into your heart and soul, better than any harpoon ... every thrown by Captain Ahab!
Ellis makes each animal a story--and a worthwhile story at that. I recall sharing 'Wounded Knee' with a friend of mine who gave up after a few chapters saying he 'got the point', and while it works for literary criticism, it doesn't for historical or scientific criticism. I doubt that Ellis's book is in anyway comprehensive, but while most readers will grasp the levity of things very quickly, it deserves to be read in its entirity. I think the various species mentioned here (many in trouble, many already extinct) deserve that much.
Best yet, while Ellis does little to disguise his deep affinity for all those things that would make the sea their home, his arguments rest not at all upon this sentimentality, but rather on the instability of our marine-based economies as populations crash.
At least a dozen eighteenth century extinctions would read like this epitaph "Like the sea cow, it was ridiculously easy to kill and tasted good...", but Ellis exposes how modern methods are far more effective in decimating extant species than any whalers ever could have managed.
Possibly one of the most essential reads for an easy overview of the state of sea-going species, though readers with a greater interest will no doubt want to dig farther into the literature and on-line resources.
If you eat seafood and/or love the ocean, this book is a must read.
How did this happen? Ellis points out that the reason that fisheries are collapsing worldwide is because of the super efficiency of modern fishing techniques. In essence they can catch everything, or nearly everything, in the area fished. Radar, huge nets, long many-hook lines and huge fleets of ships are used to feed the ever-increasing demand for seafood, sushi, aquarium fish, coral and rare shells. Since the resource is often less than the demand, especially for high-ticket items like tuna, the profit is high and the "commons" are overexploited for current gain. Not only this, but the number of non-target organisms that die in the process is truly staggering.
What can we do to slow down the destruction? We can try to back sound science-based fishing regulations and at least lower our demand for products from the sea, especially for those known to be overexploited. The tragedy is that, despite our efforts, the oceans of the world will probably never be quite the same again. However, if humans do not limit themselves they will soon (as Ellis notes on the last page) know for whom the bell tolls.
Read this book- it may make you think twice about current consumptive practices, especially if you value your children's future.
Most recent customer reviews
It's certainly eye-opening, but I'd suggest sticking to books that tell you the facts AS WELL AS what we can do about it;...Read more