The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean and the Looming Threat That Imperils It

Helen Scales. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5822-2
Marine biologist Scales (Eye of the Shoal) tours the lightless depths of the ocean and showcases its denizens in this show-stopping work. She begins by pointing out that sunlight can't penetrate below 3,300 feet below sea level, and the average depth of the oceans is 12,500 feet. This zone beyond light's reach "is home to countless unimaginable life-forms," such as deep-diving sperm whales, gelatinous jellyfish, strange colony animals called siphonophores that can reach 150 feet in length, and extremely rare iron-shelled scaly-foot snails. Seamounts, huge underwater mountains that can dwarf their terrestrial cousins, also host a dizzying array of life. Scales stresses the importance that the ocean plays in maintaining human life as a critical part of Earth's climate mechanism and as a potential source of medicines, particularly antibiotics; she also warns of the many ways humanity threatens ocean life, such as overfishing, dumping toxic waste, and mining beneath the sea floor. Scales concludes with a convincing plea for creating "a sanctuary in the deep," an international agreement in which the unexplored depths of the ocean are protected from industry, but open to science. This vivid survey hits the mark as an awe-filled paean to the mysteries of the deep. Agent: Margaret Sutherland Brown, Folio Literary. (July)
Reviewed on : 03/24/2021
Release date: 07/06/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-8021-5824-6
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