The Oceans

Bookshelf: The Oceans

The Oceans – Ellen J. Prager

The Oceans
The Oceans - Prager & Earle

I found the first half of this book somewhat dry – not because it’s boring or poorly written, but because my interests lie more with marine biology and ocean chemistry than with marine geology and physics.

In the first few chapters, Prager describes the formation of the oceans in some detail, and the plate tectonics that shaped the continents and continue to shape the ocean floor and rims. There are interesting sections on tides, currents and the winds that shape the surface of the ocean.

She describes the evolution of life and its colonisation of earth, but the most fascinating chapter to me was her high-speed tour through various ocean-living species. She spends quite a lot of time on that miracle of speed, streamlining and efficiency, the bluefin tuna. She also covers sharks, whales, and other air-breathing marine mammals.

There are very brief contributions by Sylvia A. Earle, but Prager wrote most of this book and Earle’s name seems to be on the cover to lend credibility rather than to give her credit.

As a one stop source of all the relevant information about how the oceans began, how they work, and what lives in them, this book is great. I imagine that it covers a lot of the material (at a high level) that introductory ocean science courses would cover, which makes it great for someone like me who studied mathematics and the classics… But no physical science or biology!

The book is available here for those in South Africa, and here for the rest of you.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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