Alex Rogers has seen things that very few people on the planet will ever witness. As one of the world's most eminent marine biologists, he has explored the depths of the oceans and here he shares what he has learned. Part love letter to the ocean, part horrifying catalogue of all its misfortunes, the book both celebrates the wonders of the seas and vehemently calls on readers to help protect them.
Rogers is one of those people whose enthusiasm makes you feel good. Whether it be the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in Antarctica and the extraordinary creatures that can survive near their boiling waters, or the ocean mountains known as seamounts in the Indian Ocean, he is full of awe and wonder.
Yet his enthusiasm is also matched by anger and sadness at human interference. Interspersed with the descriptions of his most significant dives, Rogers examines deep-sea fishing, plastic pollution, coral bleaching due to ocean acidification and deoxygenation due to algal blooms. ‘What was left looked like the aftermath of an H-bomb underwater,’ he writes, describing the bleached coral on one dive in the Caribbean. It’s a depressing story, vividly told.
On the plus side, the book also includes examples of ocean habitats that have bounced back and through these stories manages to retain a sense of optimism. It can be done, Rogers says, as long as humans start to value the ocean properly. In the final portion of the book, this case for placing a higher value on the ocean is presented in a range of compelling ways. Perhaps understanding that not everyone will share a desire to conserve the worms and eels of the deep simply for their own sake, Rogers demonstrates that in saving the oceans we also save ourselves. Through this careful balance of personal experience and scientific explanation, The Deep provides a fascinating and informative celebration of a curious world the author knows better than anyone.
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