Ellen J. Prager, Ph.D. has spend the last two decades immersed, often literally, in marine science. Formerly with the U.S. Geological Survey, she is well published in scientific journals and public-oriented magazines. She is an active member of professional science organizations, frequently gives talks at national meetings, and is a Fellow of the Explorer's Club. Recently, during a week-long mission in the underwater habitat, Aquarius 2000 in the Florida Keys, she was interviewed on NBC's Today Show, wrote dispatches online for MSNBC, and worked with the National Geographic Society. Sylvia A. Earle, Ph.D. called "Her Deepness" by the New York Times and The New Yorker, is a marine biologist, ocean explorer, author, lecturer, Chairman of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, spokesperson for Sea Web and the first woman to serve as the Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In recent years she has become an internationally known champion for ocean conservation and currently serves as explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.
Over two-thirds of the earth is covered by bodies of water that many believe hold the secrets to the beginnings of life. In this absorbing survey of oceanography, Prager (Furious Earth) and Earle (The Living Ocean: Understanding and Protecting Marine Biodiversity) chronicle the development of the science of oceans and the evolution of life within the briny deep and shallow estuaries. The authors narrate the "grand epic" of life's evolution from its earliest beginnings (between 4.5 and 1 billion years ago) to the flowering of sea life in the Cambrian period (about 550 million years ago). They examine the geological evidence of life's development, and the physical and chemical properties of the ocean-- the effects of oceans on climate, coastal upwellings, deep-sea circulation, rip currents and rogue waves--as well as the beauties and mysteries of sea life and, through accounts of various marine biomes, microbes and mammals, the tremendous diversity of marine life. Throughout, Prager and Earle debunk myths about the existence of Jaws-like sharks and other marine creatures. Finally, they contend that if the oceans continue to be exploited in the ways they have been over just the past 30 years, they may die. Therefore, the authors argue, governments must give high priority to the study of oceans simply because "to preserve the sea is to preserve life on Earth." This elegant study is an excellent resource for scientists, teachers and all lovers of the ocean. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.