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The Empty Ocean

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In The Empty Ocean, acclaimed author and artist Richard Ellis tells the story of our continued plunder of life in the sea and weighs the chances for its recovery. Through fascinating portraits of a wide array of creatures, he introduces us to the many forms of sea life that humans have fished, hunted, and collected over the centuries, from charismatic whales and dolphins t...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 15th 2004 by Island Press (first published 2003)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanThe Lorax by Dr. SeussDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
58th out of 509 books — 574 voters
The Sea Around Us by Rachel CarsonStung! by Lisa-Ann GershwinNocturne, Opus 1 by Norene MoskalskiThe Empty Ocean by Richard EllisThe World Is Blue by Sylvia A. Earle
Ocean/Marine Conservation
4th out of 63 books — 14 voters

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A wonderfully well-written, yet horrifying book about man's catastrophic influence on the ocean and its wildlife. I've read various articles on this topic, but seeing various species covered in a series of chapters is very sobering. This book has been on my to-read list for several years, and I can't imagine things have gotten better in the interim. The author talks about widespread overfishing, dredge nets, coral bleaching, and invasive species; but there is no mention of deoxygenated zones or...more
Amy Bailey
This book is infinitely heart-wrenching and frightening. It makes my stomach turn to read just exactly how irresponsible we people can be and there's no end to it. I did feel this book was a bit dated. A lot has happened since 2003 and most of the studies cited were from 2001 or before. It would be interesting to see how Mr. Ellis would edit this book in today's world political climate. This is scary... too scary.
Jeff Guertin
This book contains a vast amount of information on the plight of marine animals, but it is presented in a very dry manner. The first half of the book was mostly information about fish, and I found this part of the book to be pretty boring. It got better during the second half, which began to focus on marine mammals, sea turtles, coral reefs, etc.
A good overview on the dire condition of our ocean life. It goes over past extinctions as well as current ocean animals that are highly threatened. Most of the Earth's large fish species are dangerously depleted due to industrial overfishing and all ocean life is at risk. It's a fast and informative read.
The Empty Ocean makes for compelling (and frightening) reading. We have always looked at the ocean as an inexhaustible resource, but Ellis makes clear we are dangerously close to killing off a number of species, and we have no idea what the consequences will be when they're gone.
Please see my review at
Let me know you stopped by by leaving a comment; I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject.
Thank you! Anne
A must read for anyone concerned with human impacts on the planet. One of those life-changing books that empower you with information you need to make decisions as a consumer of seafood products.
Oct 25, 2012 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
As heard in the Science Times podcast.
Nov 17, 2009 Conrad marked it as to-read
I started reading this a year or two ago but it made me hyperventilate. I'm finishing it now, and it's still scary as shit.
A comprehensive review of the extents of overharvesting that we humans are perpetrating in the marine environment.
Very thoroughly researched documentation of the loss of marine species.
This book was just never able to grab me. I struggled to finished it.
This should be required reading for everyone.
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Richard Ellis is a celebrated authority on marine biology and America’s foremost marine life artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide. His nine books include The Search for the Giant Squid (a Publishers Weekly 1998 Best Book of the Year), Great White Shark, Encyclopedia of the Sea, Men and Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Deep Atlantic The Book of Whales, and Imagining Atlantis.
More about Richard Ellis...
The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World's Most Elusive Sea Creature Monsters of the Sea Tuna: A Love Story Great White Shark Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea

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