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Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along…

Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath… (1998)

by Carl Safina

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This incredible book is a searing look at humanity's attitude towards the formerly inexhaustible sea, and I will never be the same after reading it. Parts made me cry hard enough I got a headache. More than once I thought suicide might be a reasonable alternative to using up more of our resources.

I had to put it down and read hopeful things in between chapters, but I also was compelled to return. It's a little dated (published in 1997). I hoped, reading it, that some of what the scientists at the various front lines were telling Safina would have percolated into the nonscientific community and been acted upon. I Googled around some, looking for hopeful trends. And was not encouraged. It was interesting and disheartening to be reading the section in Safina's book about the Northwest's salmon annihilation while seeing daily reports in the Oregonian which said basically the same thing, only worse. Where Safina held out some hope that if we acted quickly the salmon runs might be salvaged, my newspaper ten years on is much less sanguine.

Setting aside the content, which is presented clearly and unsentimentally, I was blown away by Safina's excellent writing. His voice is crystalline, sharp as a scalpel, and lyrical. He's also hilarious, even in the face of bleak ruin.

Highly recommended. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Safina's writing is adept at presenting the various stakeholder views associated with the management of fisheries in North America and the Pacific. He is able to understand the various perspectives as he is both a fisherman and conservationist. This helps him to articulate the social, economic and environmental complexities of managing fisheries.

The book studies three distinct fisheries - the Northern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, the Pacific Salmon in North West America, and the reefs of the Phillipines/Indonesia. Much of the writing comes from his interactions with commercial fisherman, environmentalists, loggers, farmers, and scientists.

Safina is passionate but not dogmatic. It is primarily for this reason that the book works. If you are interested in the state of global fisheries, but want something more than a rant and references to policy documents, then this is the book for you.

I find Safina's writing much more accessible than Richard Ellis' work.
( )
  kenno82 | Aug 9, 2011 |
An engaging read about the wonders of the oceans—and the crisis in marine environments. ( )
  isetziol | Sep 25, 2008 |
Full review: ( http://bachlab.balbach.net/coolread4.html#bluesong ) in summary: wide ranging multi-genre passionate examination of ocean conservation issues. It would be a classic but much of the material is already dated, yet beautifully illuminates how complex and contradictory the issues are. ( )
  Stbalbach | Aug 25, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805061223, Paperback)

The oceans of the world rank foremost among humankind's last great frontiers, and their climatological and ecological workings remain mysterious to all but specialists. In this lively, well-written survey, marine scientist Carl Safina encourages readers to take a wider interest in the oceans, especially because so much of that great blue expanse is now threatened by human progress. Safina notes, for example, that the North Atlantic's tuna population has fallen by more than 90 percent in just the last few decades. It has gone the way of cod and herring and pilot whales thanks to a combination of changing global temperatures, overfishing, pollution, inland watershed and delta destruction, and other causes--many of them attributable to human activities. Even now, he notes, many Pacific fishing fleets use cyanide to catch fish, a process that destroys sensitive marine ecosystems. Safina's tour of the world's waters may inspire readers to press for changes in the way that fish is brought to their tables, and to take a more careful look at the natural processes that govern this watery planet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:20 -0400)

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To understand the connections between the sea and our own survival, Carl Safina, a world-respected scientist and fisherman, probes for truth in this tour of the oceans and their peoples. Part odyssey, part pilgrimage, this epic personal narrative follows the author's exploration of coasts, islands, reefs, and the sea's abyssal depths. Carl Safina takes readers on a global journey of discovery beneath the world's changing seas, deftly weaving adventure, political analysis, and science into a story about the human condition. We accompany people whose lives and occupations in and by the oceans unfold in a drama of clashing personal histories and daily struggles for existence.We learn of greed and excess relationships little different from nineteenth century plunder that destroyed the buffalo. As with the moon's effect on tides, Safina demonstrates that today's unregulated global economy exerts a tremendous pull on the world's oceans. But we also read dramatic and hopeful stories of the seas's revival and replenishment. In the end, we find reasons for hopefulness in unlikely places - a dangerous, heavily armed fishing village on a remote island near the Indonesian border and in the waters of the Atlantic, where the striped bass have undergone an astounding revival.… (more)

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