Paul Greenberg’s love of fish began at an early age and is deeply intertwined with a love of the outdoors; for him, an avid fisherman, fish are wild fish. Yet with fisheries worldwide collapsing from overharvesting, fish farming has emerged as a sustainable alternative. But is it? And are the Four Fish (Penguin, $16) that currently dominate the seafood market—salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna—the best prospects for aquaculture? Greenberg considers the overarching question of sustainability by examining each of these fish in turn; his enthusiastic and illuminating profiles include a survey of the role each species has played in human history, its own (often amazing) natural attributes, and its viability as a farmed species. Salmon, for instance, are capable of swimming prodigious distances. Is a wild salmon, with its fully developed muscles, really the same as a farmed salmon, bred in a cage with little room to move? Luckily, Greenberg knows there are more than just these four fish in the sea, and his introductions of previously overlook species such as barramundi, Vietnamese tra, African tilapia, and Hawaiian kahala are fascinating and offer real hope for the future.
Entranced by the sea since childhood, Julia Whitty became a marine biologist, working in the field and making documentary films. But her passion for all facets of oceanography transcends any single project or focus. This fascinating, beautifully evocative memoir of Whitty’s long relationship with the ocean is a heartfelt paean to an ecosystem she truly believes is the Deep Blue Home (Mariner, $14.95) of all earthly life. Starting in 1980 on tiny Isla Rasa, a crucial breeding ground for gulls, terns, and storm petrels, moving to Newfoundland later in the decade and returning to Baja California in 2001, this chronicle covers a wide range of topics, from seabirds, the history of whaling (and the surprising roles whales play in the ocean), overfished cod, the long lives of sea turtles (up to 200 years), the even longer lives of some amphibians (a quahog clam is pushing 400), the recent discovery of thriving ecosystems around vents in the ocean floor, and the heavy toll human activities have taken on the sea. For all we know about the ocean, there’s still much that we don’t know.
Make fast your mooring lines, THE WAVE by Susan Casey is a wild ride. Sometimes frightening, always fascinating, it is a completely engrossing look into the world of big waves. Freak, or rogue, waves measuring one hundred feet tall have long been the stuff of legend, but with new technology the existence of these giant waves has been confirmed. Casey immerses herself in the hunt for these waves as she not only follows big wave surfers as they journey around the globe seeking a monster ride but also joins scientists searching for the cause of the damaging giants. With engaging prose, Casey takes us to places few of us will ever go. The beauty and skill of extreme surfers and the dedication and ingenuity of the scientists who devote their lives to understanding our changing planet combine for a captivating read.