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Five Marine Science Books for Scuba Divers

Crack these covers to unfurl the mysteries of life in the deep.
By Alexandra Gillespie | Authored On November 2, 2022
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Five Marine Science Books for Scuba Divers

The ocean remains a stubbornly mysterious place, but these authors tackle the challenge of illuminating how life really works under the waves.

Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs

Author Juli Berwald
List Price $28.00
Publisher Riverhead Books
Released 2022

Author Juli Berwald has traveled the world in search of a solution to saving coral reefs since falling in love with the vivacious ecosystems as a marine biology student. The passion of scientists and activists working to buffer reefs against the many threats they face—climate change, disease and anthropomorphic damage, to name a few threats—drew her into the fight. Over the years Berwald has found herself a participant in risky experiments and traditional reef restoration programs. In tandem with her fight for corals, Berwald helps her daughter navigate mental illness, intertwining the narratives to meditate on the larger questions of how to fight in the face of uncertainty, the grief of climate work and celebrating the wins where they are.

The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World

Author Patrick Svensson
List Price $17.99
Publisher Ecco
Released 2021

Memoir meets natural history in this book debut by a Swedish journalist. Eels remain one of nature’s enigmas—we do not know where they breed, for example, or why they head to sea to die. Great thinkers throughout the ages have shared burning curiosity about eels, from Freud to Rachel Carson to Aristotle. Scientists today continue the question to unfurl the mysteries of these unknowable animals. Svensson introduces readers to eels’ mysteries and detectives, blending popular science with a personal exploration of his own relationship with his recently deceased father, who took him eel fishing as a child. The surprise international best-seller deftly explores the unknowable and the human desire for closure.

Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us

Author Ruth Kassinger
List Price $25.96
Publisher Mariner Books
Released 2020

We can thank algae for a lot: oxygen, coral reefs, crude oil, and serving as the ancestor to all plants on the planet. "Slime" details the multi-million-year evolution of algae that gave it so many uses, then explores its modern life across different domains: the kitchen, industry, and its relationship to coral reef health. Kassinger introduces readers to people around the world who have dedicated their careers to algae, from scientists that are using it to address dead zones in waterways, to business people trying to replace fossil fuels with algae-based products, to South Korean seaweed farmers. Algae will never again just be the muck on the bottom of your boat.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells

Author Helen Scales
List Price $17.00
Publisher Bloomsbury Sigma
Released 2016

Throughout "Spirals in Time", marine biologist Helen Scales examines the forces that shaped seashells and how seashells have shaped us. Far more than beachside souvenirs, seashells throughout history have served as currency, symbols of sex and prestige, and signs of war and death. They have provided humanity with food, colors, drugs, gems and medicines, and always provide homes for animals of the phylum Mollusca, one of the most ancient branches of animal life. Readers who follow Scales into this hidden world will discover shells have stories to tell if we take the time to listen.

Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge

Author Susan Hand Shetterly
List Price $24.95 USD
Publisher Algonquin Books
Released 2018

Unspooling along Maine’s rural shore, "Seaweed Chronicles" explores the life of seaweed and our growing global dependence on this ancient macroalgae. Through a blend of hard science and lyrical prose, Shetterly highlights our global reliance on seaweed (it’s in toothpaste, pet food, soap, makeup and more) and the movement to farm this carbon-negative crop. The book draws on interviews with an array of scientists and Shetterly’s own cold and blustery visits to seaweed farms in the Gulf of Maine, a hotbed for the world’s growing seaweed farming industry. She calls on the world to protect seaweed before it’s too late, to find “a new model of how to manage ocean resources that doesn’t edge them toward oblivion.”