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The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea
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The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  536 ratings  ·  74 reviews
A Silent Spring for oceans, written by "the Rachel Carson of the fish world" (The New York Times)Who can forget the sense of wonder with which they discovered the creatures of the deep? In this vibrant hymn to the sea, Callum Roberts—one of the world’s foremost conservation biologists—leads readers on a fascinating tour of mankind’s relationship to the sea, from the earliest traces of water(The ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 24th 2012 by Viking (first published 2012)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  536 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
Roberts shows us just how dramatic the changes to sea life have been in the last century. Overfishing and destructive wasteful fishing methods combined with climate change and pollution have greatly reduced the abundance of marine life at a time when a rapidly growing world population needs these resources more than ever. The fishing industry’s answer has been ever more exploitive methods as yields decline. There are organizations and governments taking measures to save ocean life, but these eff ...more
Scot Parker
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a marvelously articulate, engaging, and accessible presentation of the myriad impacts the human race is having on the world's oceans. In the first chapter, Roberts quickly takes the reader through the pre-human history of the world beginning with the formation of the oceans 4.4 billion years ago and finishing with the end Permian extinction that marks the beginning of the Triassic. He then skips a few (or a few million) years and spends the next chapter describing the history of human in ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, 2010s, dewey500s, des
Quotes : "Chapter 2 - Food from the Sea

"Anthropology and archeology have long been in thrall to an image of early humans as big game hunters of the open plains. Game-hunter thinking has us evolving from tree dwellers into savannah dwellers who started to walk on two legs. ...

"This view of human origins has a certain mythological ring to it, suggesting as it does that our plucky species succeeded in a heroic struggle against long odds. But the story has holes. ... we have
Hannah Oakie
The Ocean of Life provided extremely useful information regarding my Capstone Research project. The first half of the book basically explains how humans have negatively affected the ocean and what has happened because of it. It gave me a better understanding for what some of the big issues are with the oceans and why they are occurring. It was most interesting when he would use statistics that were easy to understand. The author, Callum Roberts, is a marine conservation biologist in the Environm ...more
Baal Of
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apparently I like to read depressing non-fiction, and here's another in a long line of books articulating just how badly we humans are fucking the environment. This one is particularly distressing, because most people just blithely assume we can do whatever the fuck we want to the ocean and it will just absorb and fix it, because of its vastness. And then there's the substantial number of people who still fucking deny climate change, or when backed into a corner move to denying that it's anthrop ...more
Milan Venditti
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book "The Ocean Of Life: The Fate of Man and The Sea" by Callum Roberts is a book full of Knowledge, Pictures, and Facts about the ocean. The book is some what interesting and teaches you about the fate of the ocean and the creatures living within the waters. Callum Roberts wrote this book to somewhat inform people about the what we are causing in the oceans.
I gave this book 3 stars because it was kinda interesting and learning about the ocean was neat but it got boring at some parts also.
Matthew Blee
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to everyone simply due to the importance of its message. Roberts presents the current problems (although the book is now the better part of a decade old so some of the facts are dated) facing the marine environment in a clear way that will be accessible even to those with a limited scientific or ecologicial knowledge, but without oversimplifying them. This book will infuriate you with the extent to which humans have ravaged the natural world, at a cost to our own well ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although the cover suggests it, this book is not just about the oceans and it's wonderful inhabitants. It's about the good of our whole planet and what we can do to stop the temperature rise, pollution, over fishing, etc. Everyone should read this book and see what's really happening to the planet and what we are leaving our future generations.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great overview of the ways in which people interact with the sea and some of the wonders hidden beneath the waves. The book can be depressing in parts if only because it doesn't shy away from the fact that humans are doing immeasurable damage to the oceans. The part about the tuna bycatch is horrifying. Overall Callum Roberts has written a knowledgeable and engaging book that I highly recommend.
Jonathan Parker
Jan 16, 2017 is currently reading it
The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea was written by Callum Roberts. I picked this book because the theme of this quarters book was an issue that is important in today’s society. The issue I picked was ocean conservation. I believe this book was going to promising. The only thing was that the first couple of chapters all it talks about is how the Earth and the oceans were created. It talks about nothing of ocean conservation. This book in my opinion doesn’t focus on the important issue ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
A very well written book about a very tough subject.

Roberts manages to convey the crisis of the oceans that is almost on us with sparkling clarity. He doesn't over complicate the subject, but writes with an urgency and a passion.

The chapters are quite gloomy when you consider how bad the seas are. He covers the amount of rubbish, in particular plastics that are in the sea, the steady acidification due to the water absorbing carbon dioxide relentlessly. He covers the scand
Jun 05, 2012 marked it as to-read
Heard author on Diane Rehm show on 6/5/12.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sobering but not alarmist audit of the state of our seas and oceans.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts shows how the oceans have changed - from prehistoric times to today. His focus is on man-made changes, dealing with such topics as overfishing, destructive fishing methods, plastic and chemical pollution, winds and currents, excessive noise, dead-zones, disease, farm-fish etc. The book is however, not all doom and gloom. Roberts dedicates the last quarter of his book to methods that may work to restore or at least diminish the negative effects humans have on ocea ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Many people think of the oceans as a remote and incidental feature of our world. Their importance is felt in a physical sense, but people don't realize how much we all owe to life in the sea.... Humanity is in retreat all over the world."

It seems incredible to me that anyone could doubt the reality of climate change, or the pressing need to use and reuse our resources more efficiently than we have been doing so since the beginning of recorded history. But those people are out there, and
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
An clearly structured overview of all the stresses on the oceans of Earth. It is an amazing work for anyone with an interest in the ocean.

The writer uses many different examples and this ensures rich reading, but I though he takes just a bit too long before moving in the solutions. And even in the solutions, I felt a bit short changed as the solution focus mainly on overfishing and the protection of habitat, rather than noise pollution, acidification of the ocean and plastic.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed reading this book. However, as a novice in this field, there was a lot of information to consider and digest. So at points the book felt a touch heavy. Although this didn’t detract from Callum Roberts’ clear passion for the ocean and its protection. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in protecting and understanding our ocean. I will likely re-read this book.
Michaela (Kylia)
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this book, Roberts does an amazing job of really showing just how for gone our environment is, however he offers factual information and wonderful suggestions on how to improve our seas!
I also really enjoyed the appendix that gave amazing advice on purchasing and eating seafood responsibly. A must-read for any aspiring marine biologist or conservationist.
Maliea Ruby
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you give even the smallest crap about the health of our oceans, you should read this book!
David Kirchman
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: popular-science
It's only possible to read about the horrific things we are afflicting on the oceans because of the beautiful language and writing and the many fascinating stories of life in the oceans.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
There was so much I didnt know.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men…’
In this book, Callum Roberts sets out to argue the case that man is damaging the oceans of the world in ways that may be irreversible if not addressed quickly and determinedly. Prof. Roberts track record as a marine biologist and environmentalist is impressive – as well as a Hardy fellowship in conservation biology at Harvard University, he was awarded a fellowship by the Pew Environment Group, (one of the organisations behind the setting up of the new Gl
Jo Bennie
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r
This is a clarion call to action by a Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York. Much of his prose is a slow read because he writes as a scientist, there are few quick soundbites, just a mountain of evidence with regard to how the seas have changed since humans evolved. He takes us through all the science of oceanography and marine biology, winds and currents, tides, deoxygenation, dead zones, disease and marine farming, history, acidity and warming with remarkably little repeti ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
In short: please read this. It's important to understand what's going on in our oceans.

A recent issue of the Economist focused on this book, and as I was looking for a comprehensive overview of the state of our oceans, I picked it up at the library. The first part of The Ocean of Life goes into detail on the problems that humans have created: overfishing to the point that we don't even realize the abundance of fish that used to be in the sea; pollution such as plastics, nutrient flow
Andrew Dale
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not really for the faint of heart. It is set in two parts: the first, "Changing Oceans", catalogues to exhaustive extent the many ways in which humanity is trashing the oceans that sustain the planet.

Some of the topics covered include humanity's prehistoric relationship with the seas, fishing, effects of climate on the ocean including changing currents and rising sea levels, rising acidity, dead zones, the accumulation of trash in the seas, noise pollution, invasive spec
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The pressures of humanity are destroying our oceans and the creatures that live within. Have we passed the point of no return? Probably. Should this be a burning issue for every responsible government on the planet? Yes, but it probably won't be because that would involve admitting culpability and committing to a shared action plan for the future that would involve sacrifice and cost.
To paraphrase sapiens Harari - "then why didn't humans abandon overfishing etc .. Partly because it took generat
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I first read this book, I learned so much, I didn't even know where to start when talking about it! Since then, a lot of the issues it discusses have hit the headlines, such as microbeads, which I hadn't heard of before reading this book two years ago, but which I have heard of a lot since then.

This is all so fascinating, and so IMPORTANT (not to mention often shocking!) that I reread it and took notes again. I suggest you do the same. You owe it to yourself and to the planet. ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hmm. This was a very hard book to rate, simply because of the subject matter. It is very well-written and presents thorough information about the history of our Earth and oceans, and how mankind has impacted our seas throughout time. Callum Roberts, a marine scientist, paints a grim picture of what could happen if we do not become more proactive with conservation efforts to make changes that will affect marine life, and ultimately, our own lives. These are sobering thoughts, but ones that we nee ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the most important book I read this year. In addition to being full of fascinating knowledge, WTF are we doing to our oceans? I had no idea we were being such awful stewards of this part of our planet. Please read it, and then tell your friends to do the same.

It's not just a litany of environmental devastation - I learned so many things about one of the most important pieces of our planet. Example: How much have sea levels changed over the last 100,000 years? How many times,
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Recently named in the Times as one of the 100 most influential UK scientists, Prof Callum Roberts is an award-winning expert on Marine Conservation.

His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 10 years he has used his science background to make the
“In the European Union, the relationship between politicians and the fishing industry has become like that of a doctor assisting the suicide of a patient.” 2 likes
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