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

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  478 ratings  ·  38 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, 480 pages
Published June 15th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
94th out of 525 books — 636 voters
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
282nd out of 880 books — 2,158 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,539)
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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
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
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
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.
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
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
Rachel Bayles
An investment well worth the time. Some hope, but mostly a call to arms.
must read
Jessica Lively
very different than what imagen used to reading. read for a class assignment
Christopher Griffen
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
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
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
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.
Jul 03, 2008 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars
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!
Nancy Farren
Nov 07, 2013 Nancy Farren rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Carolyn Flesner
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.
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!
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.
Mary Cawthon
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.
George Grosselfinger
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
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.
This book was an insightful overview of the world's fisheries and issues facing bluefin tuna, Pacific salmon, and coral reef fish in Indonesia. Safina is a great writer and I learned a lot!
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.
Adrienne Shea-michiels
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.
A wonderful book about the oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. The section on the blue fin tuna is worth the price of admission alone.
Poetic language gives justice to the wonder of science related to the the ocean. Carl Safina is my marine conservation hero.
Very interesting and didn't read like a textbook. But like all conservation-oriented books, a bit sad.
One of the best written and interesting books I have ever read. If you care about our oceans read it.
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I grew up a city kid in Brooklyn, New York. My parents took me to the Bronx Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, the New York Aquarium, Jones Beach or out on my uncles’ boat. I started raising homing pigeons when I was seven years old, and on a visit to the Catskills I finally saw forests, lakes, and wildlife. We moved to Long Island when I was ten and I did a lot of local fishing and camping. ...more
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