The following is a short evolving list of books we love about ocean life, animals and the issues most of them face every day.
Song for the Blue Ocean — Encounters Along the World’s Coasts and Beneath the Seas
Part odyssey, part pilgrimage, this epic personal narrative follows the author’s exploration of coasts, islands, reefs, and the sea’s abyssal depths.
Scientist and fisherman Carl Safina takes readers on a global journey of discovery, probing for truth about the world’s changing seas, deftly weaving adventure, science, and political analysis (read more/order).
Saved By The Sea: A Love Story with Fish
From bodysurfing in Central American war zones, diving barrier reefs with his tragically fated love, Nancy, or being bumped by a whale off Antarctica, David Helvarg has lived a life often as endangered as the ocean he now works to protect. Saved by the Sea is the story of this longtime journalist’s personal love, loss, and redemption in the free-flowing heart of our blue-marble planet.
This eloquent and honestly told tale of the changes in one man’s journey and the world’s ocean over the last half-century is also a profound, startling, and sometimes surprisingly funny reflection on the state of our seas and the intimate ways in which our lives are all linked to the natural world around us. Saved by the Sea will bring salt water to your eyes and small waves of hope to your heart (read more/order).
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
Kraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid.
The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. In addition to squid, both giant and otherwise, Kraken examines other equally enthralling cephalopods, including the octopus and the cuttlefish, and explores their otherworldly abilities, such as camouflage and bioluminescence.
Accessible and entertaining, Kraken is also the first substantial volume on the subject in more than a decade and a must for fans of popular science (read more/order).
Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina’s landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals.
In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack’s personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest (read more/order).
Reef Fish Identification — Tropical Pacific
Finally, a comprehensive fish identification guide covering the fish-rich reefs of the Pacific. It contains 2,500 underwater photographs of 2,000 species from four of the best marine life authors/photographers in the business.
Their collaboration makes it possible for underwater naturalists to identify fishes from Thailand to Tahiti with a single, compact, easy-to-use, no-nonsense reference. 108 fish families are presented in one of 20 Identification groups based on a family’s related visual or behavioral characteristics, such as Large Oval / Colorful or Sand/Burrow Dwellers. Likewise, every effort has been made to group similar appearing species together (read more/order).
Reef Creature Identification — Tropical Pacific
The long-awaited, 500-page reference detailing 1,600 animals with 2,000 photographs and descriptive text is not only the most comprehensive visual field guide to marine invertebrate life inhabiting the waters from Thailand to Tahiti, but also a pictorial tour de force skillfully bridging science and the aesthetic.
For the past five years the two authors/photographers have delved deep into uncharted waters, not only visually documenting numerous species for the first time, but also incorporating the most recent taxonomic research of more than 40 scientific specialists. The text focuses on mobile species, highlighting crustaceans, mollusks, worms and echinoderms, however the pages include an overview of attached marine animals, and also explore facets of marine invertebrate behavior (read more/order).
Reef Fish Identification — Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas
The 4th edition is packed with amazing marine life photographs of 683 species and enough information to keep fish watchers busy for years.
The book includes the latest information on what is known about the taxonomy and distribution of Caribbean reef fishes.
The easy-to-use, quick reference format makes it a snap to identify the hundreds of fishes sighted on the reefs, sand flats, grass beds, surf zones and walls of Florida, the Caribbean and Bahamas (read more/order).
Reef Creature Identification — Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas
Reef Creature Identification has been significantly expanded in a new 3rd edition. The popular, user-friendly field guide, covering all major groups of marine invertebrates, has grown to include 900 species beautifully documented with more than 1200 underwater photographs – nearly doubling the total in the previous edition.
Les Wilk has joined Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach authoring the comprehensive new edition (read more/order).