The Bottom Line
World Ocean Census is a gorgeous book that would make a great gift for someone who enjoys the ocean or works in a related field, or a great book to have on your own shelf as a reference.
- A "behind the scenes" look at the Census of Marine Life, one of the largest studies of its kind
- Beautiful, well-captioned illustrations
- Easy read
- Interesting information on the tools and methods used to study marine life
- Wide audience, from the casual marine enthusiast to the serious scientist
- Ready for more - wish a companion volume with the full study results was already published
- 256-page hardcover book about the Census of Marine Life
- Published by Firefly Books, Ltd., 2009
- Includes color photos throughout, a glossary, further reading and index
- The only officially sanctioned book about the Census and its discoveries for the general reader
- Written by scientists and educators that are participating in the Census of Marine Life
Guide Review - World Ocean Census: A Global Survey of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life is a 10-year project whose goal is to answer three questions: "What lived in the ocean?", "What lives in the ocean?" And "What will live in the ocean?"
The study will provide important information to scientists and resource managers and a baseline of data from which future changes to the ocean and its marine life can be measured. The Census of Marine Life is a gigantic undertaking, involving thousands of scientists in 81 countries.
World Ocean Census provides a behind-the-scenes look at this study. With beautiful photographs and background information on the ocean, scientists involved in the Census talk about how the Census began, the need for the Census and the methods by which they are obtaining results. It doesn't give away the ending, though - World Ocean Census provides a glimpse into the study's results, but you'll have to wait until October 2010 for the official scientific report of the study.
I love books that can easily be read by both a layperson and a scientist, and this is one of them. There's enough background information that anyone could pick up this book and enjoy it, but enough technical information to make the book a useful reference for someone who works with marine life. I find myself flipping through the book to look at the photographs again and again.
One of the neat things about the Census itself is that in addition to employing cutting-edge technology to study what's going on in the ocean now and predict what will happen in the future, the Census also takes a historical perspective. Census scientists looked at information dating back several hundred years to see what lived in the ocean. This information included whaling logs, records from scientific expeditions, old postcards and even old restaurant menus. Traditionally, this information might not be considered "scientific," but it is providing valuable information to the Census of Marine Life and to researchers.
I also enjoy the fact that the photographs in the book are not always ones of charismatic megafauna like giant whales or cute seals. It includes those, but also has plenty of images tat will make you look closer - microscopic organisms that look stunningly beautiful, animals that look like they belong in a horror flick, and images of researchers in action.
I am still reading through World Ocean Census, but it is leaving me with a desire for reading the full results of the study. This book is great at providing a behind-the-scenes look at the study and a glimpse of the results, and I hope that a companion volume will be published that details more of the actual results of the study and their implications.