Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas” as Want to Read:
Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  619 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Part odyssey, part pilgrimage, this epic personal narrative follows the author's exploration of coasts, islands, reefs, and the sea's abyssal depths. Scientist and fisherman Carl Safina takes readers on a global journey of discovery, probing for truth about the world's changing seas, deftly weaving adventure, science, and political analysis.
Paperback, 458 pages
Published June 15th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Song for the Blue Ocean, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Song for the Blue Ocean

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 04, 2008 Melody rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This incredible book is a searing look at humanity's attitude towards the formerly inexhaustible sea, and I will never be the same after reading it. Parts made me cry hard enough I got a headache. More than once I thought suicide might be a reasonable alternative to using up more of our resources.

I had to put it down and read hopeful things in between chapters, but I also was compelled to return. It's a little dated (published in 1997). I hoped, reading it, that some of what the scientists at t
Dec 10, 2011 Ashley added it
Within the Song for the Blue Ocean, Carl Safina encompasses the reader on his journey throughout the world to address “the only wild animals still hunted on a large scale” (Safina, p. 395). As he endeavors on this journey, Safina uses descriptive quotes to introduce the endangered tuna, salmon, and coral reef and how these organisms have been affected by industry. In addition to showing the effects of industry, Safina addresses conservation efforts, environmental views, economic stipulations, a ...more
Nov 11, 2010 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is said that humans are defined and distinguished from other animals by our ability to use tools and language, but often I wonder if the most uniquely human trait is our ability to deceive ourselves.

Song For the Blue Ocean is part scientific essay and part travelogue. It is the author's attempt to describe the plight of three fish groups (Bluefin Tuna, Pacific Salmon, and tropical reef fishes) and how human civilization has greatly benefited from them and is now being adversely affected becau
Gao Pronove
Sep 26, 2012 Gao Pronove rated it it was amazing
This is my all-time tear jerker. I don't know why but I became very sad and yet engaged while reading this book. Carl Safina gives a tour de force of the current state of the world's fishes and also describes them raising my admiration for them even more. The tuna's role in inspiring porsche's turbo mechanism is interesting detail that shows how sophisticated fishes are. New Zealand's small successes in conserving its fisheries gives hope. But the overwhelming sense of doom makes this a very sad ...more
Mar 19, 2010 Meghan rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life, literally. I read this book just before beginning college and added a second major and a focus on conservation policy to my science plan because of this book.

The writing is beautiful and sadly still as relevant today as it was back in the late 90's.
Dec 07, 2013 J.T. rated it really liked it
This is an excellent, excellent book. So why not a 5-star review? Because I like the book but do not love it. How could one love a book that is so depressing? For hundreds of pages the reader is subject to a very enjoyable, yet ultimately sorrowful description of how aquatic life around the globe is in peril. If I were to read the book again, I would start with the Epilogue at the back of the book. It is here that the reader finally finds a glimmer of hope. All is not lost; the fish might come b ...more
Tippy Jackson
Carl Safina is on fire when he's on a role, but in between bursts of brilliance is a lot of poor analogies and over powering, gushy sentiment. He also writes way too much detail on his travel experience, including things like what he was wearing, the technicalities of getting around, the way he felt when talking to people, what he was eating, etc. etc. etc. This book could have used a better editor. Still a very worthwhile read for anyone interested in this subject. And the politics of conservat ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Kenno82 rated it really liked it
Safina's writing is adept at presenting the various stakeholder views associated with the management of fisheries in North America and the Pacific. He is able to understand the various perspectives as he is both a fisherman and conservationist. This helps him to articulate the social, economic and environmental complexities of managing fisheries.

The book studies three distinct fisheries - the Northern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, the Pacific Salmon in North West America, and the reefs of the Phillipin
Dec 07, 2016 Joe rated it it was amazing
Great Work
Christopher Griffen
Mar 24, 2013 Christopher Griffen rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about the plight of sea life in the world's oceans. Carl Safina takes us on a globe trotting expedition to New England, the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Palau, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Each stop shows the urgency for conservation of the world's fisheries, coral reefs, and other oceanic life. The narrative is devastating to read at times but never pedantic and sometimes hopeful. I can't recommend it enough if you have a genuine interest in the environment and cons ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone that eats seafood, uses paper/wood products and/or once dreamed of being a marine biologist

Heavy look at the wide scope of the local, national and international fisheries crises. Uplifting with the books anecdotes from interviews by the author, and pummeling in the magnitude of the collapse in population size of the amazing animals of the ocean. Amazing, because they truly rely on every drop of water in the seas and are interconnected to every land/river boundary from the continents. MARINE SCIENCE, woo-WOOP!
May 15, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
This was an incredibly long, eye opening and yet depressing book. It's definitely made me think about the fishes that I eat and the impact that I make on the ocean, an ecosystem that I love here in CA. Safina does a wonderful job of putting together his travels and research all together in his book to both engage and entertain readers. I would definitely recommend his book but like I said it is long which is why I personally gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.
Sep 23, 2007 Matthew rated it it was amazing
An extraordinarily eloquent plea for several major conservation issues facing the conservation of the oceans. Safina displays shades of Rachel Carson, as he sheds light on the plight of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and the live-fish trade of the south Pacific. His personal journeys convey the tragedies befalling the ocean enironment, and yet his poetic writing as a plea for help still maintains a tone of hope for the future.
Michael Beaton
May 10, 2013 Michael Beaton rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago.. Saw it on a book shelf in a used book store; picked it up probably because I liked the title. It is one of the most interesting, lyrical, moving books I have read. It contends with the Ocean, and our human relationship to it.
Eschewing any easy classification of good and bad, the author engages the ocean thru various experiences of those who live with and in and on the ocean.

Compelling. Lovely read.
Tricia Evans
Mar 14, 2013 Tricia Evans rated it liked it
Really enjoyed this book. At one time I too wanted to be able to explore the Ocean both by ship and diving. But life had other ideas for me, so for now I am left reading about it and once in a blue moon getting to make my yearly visit to the Big Blue. I still find all varieties of creatures fascinating and feel we can still lear n a lot about ourselves, evolution, and the way nature works just by studying the Ocean and her world.
Jun 29, 2010 Steph rated it really liked it
The mighty oceans of the world are rapidly being emptied. In a precarious balance of nature, where every hard earned calorie counts, the mother albatross returns from a 1,200 mile sojourn of foraging the vast Pacific to regurtate a green plastic tooth brush and a disposable lighter into the hungry mouth of her chick.
Aug 28, 2008 HiThero rated it liked it
Don't expect the eloquence of Rachel Carson, but he gets the point across and makes you think. Definitely adjusted my eating habits after finishing this book. I'm still pondering the role of government, the individual, and free market economics in the area of conservation... Not sure, need to read more (always, always). Suggestions would be welcome!
Nancy Farren
Nov 07, 2013 Nancy Farren rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: Renee Robinson
I read this a number of years ago and LOVED it!!! I would recommend it to anyone who loves marine life or is interested in nature writing. Carl Safina is an excellent writer whose prose drew me in and held me captive turning page after page. His subject matter here is compelling. I will likely read this book again and hope that he writes other books in this same format
Nov 03, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Saginaw is a well known author activist on marine issues, especially over fishing and the abuse of mammals. His work is passionate and yet careful and reasoned in both its science and attitudes. He lives the fishermen as much as he lives the fish. His work is alarming and prophetic. But will anyone in power listen, let alone care?
Carolyn Flesner
Nov 08, 2011 Carolyn Flesner rated it it was amazing
Non-fiction that is a bit riveting.

Tells the story of 3 different ocean areas and the fishing/environmental/political issues going on. Atlantic tuna, Pacific salmon, and the Far Pacific. It's definitely told from an environmentalist point of view, but also seriously engages the interests/opinions of the people who depend on the ocean for their livelihood.
Despite being published in 1997, this is absolutely worth reading to see where we're at on these issues, what has improved, what has declined, and what issues exist that were not necessarily as critical 20 years ago, but now are. Both hopeful and disconcerting.
Jun 04, 2008 Hillary rated it it was amazing
I loved this book even though it was depressing reading about how the human race is destroying the oceans and the organisms that live in them. It really makes you think about what we are doing to our Oceans.
George Grosselfinger
Jan 29, 2012 George Grosselfinger rated it really liked it
If you are into the depletion of the oceans or relish the idea of learning about sea species as the tuna......written with a somewhat colorful prose and description...this is a 4 star book
If this is not your bag....3 stars
Mary Cawthon
Feb 28, 2015 Mary Cawthon rated it it was amazing
Excellent. While a little dry at times, it is largely extremely informative while painting an almost religious picture of the beauty of the sea. Opened my eyes to many things I was woefully unaware of. Often compared and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which I now know is totally legitimate.
Amber Brown
Dec 25, 2015 Amber Brown rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Eye-opening. I love Carl Safina's voice. Just when you're not expecting humor, boom! He throws an adorably snarky comment in there. Took me forever to read because it's so long, but I'm glad I persisted. I can't wait to read more of his work.
Jun 23, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and informative. This book completely changed my world view concerning our impact on the oceans.
Nov 18, 2008 Deniz rated it it was amazing
I had to read this as part of my thesis was an amazing read. Carl Safina really did his homework...very unbiased and true representation of what is going on with our oceans.
Gail Kennon
wonderful book if often heartbreaking book. beautiful writing about a beautiful world threatened by human stupidity and cupidity and sometimes rescued by human courage and love and creative action.
Aug 09, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Poetic language gives justice to the wonder of science related to the the ocean. Carl Safina is my marine conservation hero.
Adrienne Shea-michiels
Aug 03, 2011 Adrienne Shea-michiels rated it really liked it
Great book. The author takes you into the ocean. He, also, lets you see the possibility that fish, fishermen, big business and nature lovers can coexist in a reasonably healthy water world.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Empty Ocean
  • The Unnatural History of the Sea
  • The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One
  • Under the Sea Wind
  • Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks
  • The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
  • Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them
  • Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us
  • Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators
  • Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish
  • Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality
  • The Ocean World (Abradale)
  • Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
  • Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
  • Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
  • The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking, and the Search for Lost Species
  • The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss
  • The Life of Birds
Carl Safina’s work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs th ...more
More about Carl Safina...

Share This Book

“If wildlife cannot exist there will be poor quality for human life. A better world for wildlife means a better world for human life.” 0 likes
“It is said that humans are defined and distinguished from other animals by our ability to use tools and language, but often I wonder if the most uniquely human trait is our ability to deceive ourselves.” 0 likes
More quotes…