Here at Ocean Conservancy, we get countless requests for all things sea-related—including our best book recommendations for ocean lovers. The beginning of January is the perfect time to curl up with a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a start a new book (or three), and Ocean Conservancy’s staff has pitched in with their best recommendations, just in time for the new year. Which ones will you add to your 2018 reading list?
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Inspiring Depictions of Natural History
While our ocean is awe-inspiring all on its own, knowing the natural histories of its various habitats and species can help us appreciate it all the more. These books help us understand how and why our ocean came to be as it is today, as well as how it established itself as being one of the most important features of communities and cultures across the globe.
- Beautiful Swimmers (William W. Warner)
- “This is my favorite. Not just because I grew up enjoying steamed crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, but because it tells a compelling story about the fascinating Blue crab, its history and importance to the Chesapeake region…and, it describes how easy it is to overfish a presumed limitless resource.”
-Charlotte Meyer (Director of Individual Philanthropy)
- The Sea Around Us (Rachel Carson)
The Human-Ocean Connection
These inspiring books discuss the incredible and sometimes mysterious pull that human beings feel towardthe sea, as well as our ocean’s ability to make us feel happier, healthier, and more in tune with our spirituality
- Blue Mind (J. Wallace Nichols)
- Gift from the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
The Health and Wellbeing of Our Ocean Today, and What We Can Do to Help It
It’s no mystery that our ocean is has been and continues to face some extremely detrimental threats when it comes to maintaining healthy ecosystems today. These works outline some of those most threatening issues, and contain some powerful calls to action about ways we can help combat these problems.
- Song for a Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World’s Coasts and Beneath the Seas (Carl Safina)
- The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Elizabeth Kolbert)
- “While overall the book [can seem like] a pretty big downer, I suggest [focusing on] chapters 6 and 7, where the author discusses the changing chemistry of our ocean and the effects on coral reefs. It is a great introduction to Ocean Acidification for the average person!”
-Rebecca Colglazier (Manager, Development Operations)
Addressing and Combating Plastic Pollution
While we could’ve included pollution and the presence of trash in our seas in the previous category, we know that these topics can sometimes be so strong that they’re placed in a realm all their own. The following are both true stories about some of the most powerful discoveries of accidental plastic loss at sea, the impact they had on our ocean, and what brave and determined individuals and communities did to fight back against this type of pollution.
- Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists and Fools Including the Author Who Went in Search of Them (Donavan Hohn)
- “This book is an absolutely lovable journey with a personal touch. It’s a perfect mix of science, adventure, and beachcombing intrigue.”
- Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans (Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips)
Photography-Based and Coffee Table Books
Know someone who loves visuals and photography? These books use the power of imagery to communicate their key messages, but all unite in onecommon theme: demonstrating the beauty of our ocean through photos!
- Shark (Brian Skerry)
- Blue Hope: Exploring and Caring for Earth’s Magnificent Ocean (Syliva Earle)
- The Life and Love of the Sea (Lewis Blackwell)
The Living Seas and Books on Marine Life
If you or someone you know is highly interested in marine life and the creatures that dwell beneath the surface of the sea, these are the animal- and living being-focused books we recommend!
- The Extreme Life of the Sea (Steve Palumbi)
- Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins (Susan Casey)
Fictional Coastal Adventures
Diving into the category of fiction, these books both demonstrate themes of action, thrill, and even science-fiction. The best part? They’re all set along our nation’s gorgeous coasts!
- Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)
- “I fell in love with St. Marks while I was visiting nearby Wakulla Springs last year, and I love that VanderMeer–who lives in Tallahassee–sets the book in a version of the Gulf Coast that seems almost pristine yet dangerous. The book is the first of the author’s Southern Reach trilogy, and it’s been adapted as a movie starring Natalie Portman, to be released this February!”
- Tampa Burn (Randy Wayne Right)
- “The entire Doc Ford series discovers the Indiana Jones-like escapades of an ex-CIA assassin turned marine biologist; all set on the Florida Gulf Coast. How could I not relate to this?”
TALES OF SHIPS, SURVIVAL AT SEA, AND LIVING ON THE WATER
From classic literary gems to unbelievable first-person accounts, these literary pieces are all about one thing: experiences had by human beings on the open seas!
- The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
- Shackleton’s Boat Journey (Frank A. Worsley)
- “A short, vivid account by the ship’s skipper of Ernest Shackleton’s voyage in open boats to South Georgia to rescue his stranded Antarctic expedition. This is what got me hooked on Antarctica and the polar regions, so I can say it was a life-changing read!”
- The Perfect Storm (Sebastian Junger)