cover image Great Deep: The Sea and Its Thresholds

Great Deep: The Sea and Its Thresholds

James Hamilton-Paterson. Random House (NY), $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40596-2

The sea is an irresistible source of science, romance and wonder to Hamilton-Paterson ( Playing with Water ). On an oceanographic charting expedition in the Pacific, he notes that the sea ``follows the Earth's crust like a quilt on a lumpy mattress.'' From his home in the Philippines, he explores a coral reef at night, alone, and observes an offshore island converted into a luxury resort for Japanese tourists. A visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor prompts his reflections on death and superstition at sea, while a stint with the crew of a Scottish trawler fishing in the North Sea elicits his dismay at the rubbish drawn up in the nets and the poor catch. He comments pessimistically that ``conservation is . . . a rearguard action, fought from a position of loss.'' These captivating essays, framed by the image of a lone swimmer lost between sea and sky, give a marvelous sense of our relationship to a watery world. (Aug.)