BONUS BOOK: Blue Hope – Exploring and Caring for Earth’s Magnificent Ocean by Sylvia A. Earle

“The idea of terraforming Mars to make our sister planet more Earthlike is gaining traction at the same time that our collective actions are marsiforming Earth, making the blue planet more like the red one.”

Genre: Nonfiction, Photography

Book Jacket Synopsis: “In 2009, Sylvia A. Earle, international advocate for the ocean, set out on a new mission: ‘To create a campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the ocean – the blue heart of the planet.’ This lavishly illustrated volume describes the renowned oceanographer’s wish-in-progress, the development of a massive effort called Mission Blue to take care of our living ocean. In this beautiful ode to the sea, Earle recounts the milestones of a life spent pioneering and protecting the ocean. Organized roughly by decades, we follow her from her first dive in the 1950s to the recent naming of more than 50 Hope Spot – pristine areas of the ocean, as well as distressed locales that, with care, can recover. Interspersed with quotations from ocean advocates and literary figures, Blue Hope educates and inspires us about the importance of our precious ocean, while chronicling its deteriorating state; Earle invites the reader to participate in accomplishing her life’s wish: We can all play a role in keeping Earth’s blue heart alive. Informative facts and newly commissioned maps bolster the book’s ultimate message of hope. Filled with gorgeous photographs, Blue Hope captures the author’s compelling story, intertwined with the beauty of the ocean, the splendor of its wildlife, the issues it faces, and the resilience of its resources.”

Review: It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Sylvia Earle. I had the privilege of listening to her speak once when she gave a talk at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. When I asked her for her best advice for aspiring marine biologists, she said, “Don’t forget the plankton!” This statement, which made everyone chuckle at the time, emphasizes Earle’s love for all parts of the ocean, be they small or mighty. Blue Hope is a wonderful visual expedition to the remote, blue corners of the world. While the text itself is somewhat limited (some might call Blue Hope a “coffee table book”), the things Earle does write are poignant and inspiring.

“No water, no life; no green, no blue.”

The chapters of Blue Hope roughly correspond to a timeline of Earle’s life, and cover many of the challenges she faced in the early stages of her career. She makes particular note of the sexism she faced, as well as some of the bold individuals who fought alongside her when faced with gender inequality.

“Half the fish are female. Half the dolphins and whales. I think women will do ok.”

-James Miller, in response to creating an all-female team of aquanauts

Many of the pictures, largely collected from National Geographic photographers, were familiar to me, but I also found myself enthralled with images I had never seen before. I would have liked for Earle to include more of her own musings, but Blue Hope remains a stunning ode to the ocean regardless.

“In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”

-John Sawhill








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