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Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science
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Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  388 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet's climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet it seems so familiar that we sometimes forget how little ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by W. W. Norton Company (first published December 31st 1999)
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Bob Gustafson
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent. It was recommended by Professor Tobin of the University of Wisconsin during the course of one of his lectures on Oceanography in The Great Courses series.
The title is a little misleading, because the story of mapping the deep is rather sparse. Kunzig tells that story well, but that is only 40% of the book! After telling that story, he goes off Simon Winchester-ish and writes on other oceanographic topics including marine biology, marine chemistry, and the movement of ocea
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a layperson, I'm in no position to judge how much here is outdated or oversimplified. As far as I can tell, though, this is a great, serious and stimulating introduction to oceanography for anyone interested in the least understood two-thirds of our planet. A little too much time was spent on life-sciences aspects rather than geophysical ones for my liking, but that's entirely a matter of personal preference - it's all fascinating anyway.
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book I would recommend to anybody who likes life, nature and beauty. It is very well written and I was puzzled, dazzled and amused many, many times while I was reading this book. Sometimes it tells a very sad story of barbaric exploitation of this wonder of nature we are not even close to understanding. But somehow this book filled me with gentle hopeful joy after reading. Maybe because it allowed me get a glimpse of a thing of incredible beauty! :)
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Covers a wide-ranging subject in a clear and understandable manner with just a touch of poetry to the prose.
Jamie Z.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although quite a few years old you wouldn't know it from this book (at least not in the beginning). That's because the history of ocean exploration is still important and in this book, very well-researched and presented. I was fascinated to learn how we learned about the bottom of the ocean and what went in to those discoveries. I enjoyed that each chapter was a different topic so you can skip around according to your interests.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Though this was well written, with humor in places, it was VERY scientific and often above me. There were lots of scientists I had never heard of who, I guess, needed to be mentioned even though their contributions were not really explained. The scientists who did make a significant contribution to this field were personalized and thoughtfully described.

I look forward to more explanation and discussion of the book in the weeks to come as part of the Tuesday Academy sessions.
Emma Rosen
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a re-read - I first read it when it came out. Great, accessible oceanography book that goes through scientific developments over time. as a marine biology graduate, I loved the sections on marine life and sustainability
Cabdirahman Daman
Jul 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
Just Narrative Novel
Kimberly Eyre
This has been the most challenging book I have read all year. The science was incomprehensible to me more often than not. When, however, I did understand it I was often palpably excited. It conveyed information and ideas to me that I had never encountered before. I still cannot believe no one I know ever talks about the varied geography of the ocean floor, about sea floor spread and continental drift, or about pteropods, winged-footed snails.
My favourite chapter was 9: Fantastic, Glistening Jel
Merel Compernolle
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Mapping the Deep" is an extraordinary book for people with a mild interest in ocean science. It tells the story of the oceans, as well as that of its numerous inhabitants. Along with that, it shows the reader that there is a lot we can still learn about the ocean. But there is more, it also shows that we, land-dwellers, can learn about our world, and even about ourselves, by studying the ocean. I especially liked the fragment about the faunal diversity that exists on abyssal planes and in abyss ...more
Hannah Givens
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and totally readable. There's a history of our efforts to map the deep sea, and chapters about connected topics -- not just the ocean floor, but what we know about currents and ocean layers and how the ocean developed. Really interesting for those with a comprehensive interest, and also full of fun animal tidbits and such.

Also, it's kind of sad, but from what I looked up as I went along, the book doesn't seem very out of date. Good for the reader, sad for oceanography. Still, it is
Dec 22, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it
It answered just about any question I had about the construction of the oceans... and our planet, for that matter. However, I admit, I couldn't make it though the last 80 pages or so. Just got into details that I, frankly, don't have time to read about.

The first few chapters are intense "must read"s, if you live on this planet. Then... just keep reading till you fall asleep or find yourself daydreaming, then you'll know you've had your fill. Trevor (who gave me the book) felt the same way.
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. So much so that I keep a copy in my car at all times in the event that I'm stuck waiting somewhere with nothing to read and I'm now on my second copy.
I'll confess that unless you have a real serious interest in ocean science you will probably find this a pretty dry read because it has a lot of facts and history without any drama or anything other than that to keep the reader going.
My particular favorite chapter is the one about bioluminesence and the way deep
Jan 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this book up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a visit that has sparked my renewed interest in the ocean. Although a decade old now, this book recounts some of the more recent discoveries about the depths of the ocean, beginning with the startling fact that we know less about the sea than about many aspects of outer space. The most fascinating chapters come at the beginning and the end, documenting scientific efforts to map the ocean floor and the flow of water around the world. Some of the ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012, geology
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the world around us.

A well written book on the development of oceanography, exploring plate tectonics, cod fisheries, climate change (just a little), jellyfish, thermal vents, fertilision of the ocean and much much more.

This was a recommended read for Open University course on Oceanography - but it was far from a turgid textbook - it was a delightful light read but packed with information.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the best non-fiction books I have read. Many are too scientific and you lose intrest quickly. This one was written in a way that you understood the science , but still had a good time reading the story. I found it a lot better then Other books like the disappearing spoon because of this.
The ocean is such an interesting place because we know so little about it. this book explains what we do know about the deep and what here is to discover. Great read for anyone.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fascinating stuff, though slightly outdated - I'd love to read an updated version. Part of what made it a good read for me was that I started it while I was doing my open water diving certification, and so I totally got the whole "it's an amazing alien universe down there!" thing.

Of course, this book is also slightly terrifying: we need the ocean so much and there are so, so many ways to screw it up. DON'T MESS WITH THE THERMOHALINE CIRCULATION, YOU GUYS.
Erik Olsen
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I’ve been a student of ocean science for many years, and rarely come across a book that sums up the big issues so comprehensively and so well. Kunzig is a magnificent writer and has deep curiosity about the ocean. The book is filled with characters and ideas that were new to me and I found it deeply fulfilling.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, history
Good introduction to ocean natural and exploration history. If you are looking to start learning about natural history or earth systems, this book provides a gentle introduction into the topic. It is not very technical but provides a good overview including a discussion about current ocean biodiversity and over fishing.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is great. The first few chapters cover the formation of the oceans and discovery of plate techtonics.
He then goes on to cover various biological and ecolgical ocean issues.

The first half of the book is stronger but the whole thing is worth reading.
Federico Carballo
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Excellent book. The author has the incredible gift. He can explain complex things in an easy way and keeps it interesting. I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in basic geology and oceanography.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of my occasional nonfiction, accessible science reads. Our world is amazing and this gave me plenty of new glimpses and insights. I found myself hungry for what's been discovered since this was updated in 2000.
Rachel Greenough
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone interested in the world!
This is a completely fascinating book about the history of oceanography and the science of the world's oceans. Doesn't sound fascinating? Just try it....
Eve Mcfadden
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-hold
This is a well-written book for the layman, and I wish I had the concentration and time to do it justice.
Marie Schuh
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Reading for my graduate Oceanography course...this will take a while as we go from chapter to chapter.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Such a wonderful book to dip in and out of. A real shame to see it out of print, so I treasure my copy even more. A favourite read on the beautiful and awe-inspiring depths of our vast oceans.
Mariel Sandico
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
3% - that's how much we know about the ocean. this book will blow your mind.
Kati Stevens
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
A little outdated and a little dry in parts, but a good survey of oceanography up through the year 2000.
Rod Fisher
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating history of ocean exploration up to the 1990's.
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