Whether you have seen the BBC TV series or not, The Blue Planet is a must-have book. It tells the story of life in the oceans, upon which we all ultimately depend. From the tropics to the poles, from the shores to the deeps, the waters of the planet teem with an amazing diversity of creatures and plants and a wonderful sample of it is portrayed here in the book's 400 or so colour photos.
The Blue Planet is a reminder of what we know and what we still don't know about the oceans and is a timely reminder of how fragile its ecosystems can be. We still know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the floor of the oceans. As David Attenborough reminds us in his introduction the highest peaks on Earth are still unclimbed and there are still thousands, maybe even millions, of animal species that remain undiscovered because all are hidden under the waves of the oceans. People have walked on the surface of the moon, nobody has walked on the floor of the deep ocean and probably never will. Looking at a book such as this you can get some idea of the thrill of exploring the last unknown section of our planet. And since 70 per cent of Earth's surface is covered in water, there is still plenty left to find out about.
The story the book tells is so momentous that much of the scientific background has to be condensed. For the general reader, however, this is an excellent and up-to-date introduction. Martha Holmes, one of the three authors is a marine biologist and all have worked in the Natural History Unit, the jewel in the crown of BBC TV, and so have been exposed to most of the researchers whose work has helped inform the series and the book. There is a useful glossary and index but, disappointingly, there is no Further Reading list for those who want to find out more. The Blue Planet will no doubt encourage a whole new generation of marine biologists and oceanographers.-- Douglas Palmer