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The Extreme Life of the Sea Audio Download – Unabridged

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
If there is an empty niche in Nature, however inhospitable, then a living organism will evolve to call it home. Nowhere have I seen this better illustrated than in this fascinating book. The authors, a marine biologist and his novelist son, have drawn on the creatures that thrive in the oceans’ most extreme environments to celebrate the astonishing diversity of life on Earth.

From the origins of all present-day body plans in the Cambrian Explosion, they take us through the hottest, coldest, deepest, shallowest and most toxic places in the seas, to show us the lives of their oldest, fastest, toughest and most abundant inhabitants. Some of these live in conditions so hellish, or display lifestyles so bizarre that they would tax the imaginations of the most inventive fantasy fiction writers. Many have evolved body forms that have remained unchanged for millions of years, and have survived because of the generally stable deep sea environment. Others survive at the very limits of their capabilities. All, the authors stress in the final chapter, are very vulnerable, in different ways, to the effects of climate change.

The life in our oceans is vast, and much of it is still unknown. To emphasize its complexity, the authors have chosen a small, but representative sample from each ecosystem and described their interactions in language that is both beautifully descriptive and refreshingly free of technical terms. Here is a book that will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the biology of the seas, whatever their level of scientific education.
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Format: Paperback
It would have helped had I paid a little more attention when ordering this! But desperate for some detailed and up-to-date information on the extremophile world of deep sea vents, I saw the word "extreme" in this book's title, the credentials of one of its principal authors (Professor Stephen Palumbi), and took a punt.

There is, to be sure, some good description of deep sea vents here, based on recent research, but as a whole, this book provides a much more general overview of marine biology than that. There is equal coverage of sharks lobsters, dolphins, corals and sponges. "Extreme" in this context really means, "Isn't this *amazing*?" So we have descriptions of the sheer productivity of the open ocean, the migratory abilities of the great whales, the adaptions of sea urchins and starfish to the rigours of intertidal life and so on.

Luckily for me, the science described here really *is* amazing. It is also up to date (to 2012) and the list of references is extensive and authoritative. Many of the citations are online, too, so that the reader can readily pursue his or her own explorations of the literature without checking into an academic library first.

My biggest complaint is the writing style. It is clearly written with a lay or "young adult" audience in mind, and there are too many passages of purple prose. Worse, there are some ghastly efforts to get down wiv da kidz, with strained analogies and horrible anthropomorphisms. I actually found myself putting the book down mid-paragraph after the most egregious pop references.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't review the book as it was bought for a friend who was very pleased with it, he found it interesting and informative
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book, really opened my eyes to the threats of global warming. Very interesting and informative.
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