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Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  412 ratings  ·  42 reviews
"One of the most delightful natural history studies in decades." —The Boston Globe

Eye of the Albatross takes us soaring to locales where whales, sea turtles, penguins, and shearwaters flourish in their own quotidian rhythms. Carl Safina's guide and inspiration is an albatross he calls Amelia, whose life and far-flung flights he describes in fascinating detail. Interwoven w
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2002)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My first book by Carl Safina was What Animals Think and Feel and it instantly made me fall in love with his writing style. I immediately put all his books on my amazon waiting list and Im buying them one by one.

I was worried my hopes would be too high and maybe the first book was his best and the rest would disappoint me, but YAY that didn't happen!

This book revolved around marine conservation and his passion shone through just like his other work. He has a beautiful writing style that feels m
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading about the unusual and remote locations that Safina was able to visit -- it’s hard to imagine some of those places and the abundance of birds. I enjoyed googling for more photos and videos of the places he mentioned. Sometimes he wandered a bit from the topic of albatrosses and sea birds, but it just emphasizes the interconnectedness of everything (sharks, turtles), and I really appreciate his desire to tell all the sides of the stories – getting to know fishermen and the ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every bit of this book. It was told as if Carl Safina was sitting down with you and just sharing a conversation. Full of facts and reflections on life. It is intimidating at first because he crams a lot of words into chapters and pages. But I loved it. This book wasn't only about albatrosses but also followed other species facing challenges in today's increasing (human) populated world and our resulting trash: Hawaiian Monk Seals, Tiger Sharks, Sablefish, and more.

This book was publis
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the midst of Covid19, this book took me to the Leeward Islands of Hawaii, and a window into the life of a field biologist. The story of Amelia, a GPS tagged albatross, her mate and her chick will be an awe-inspiring surprise to those unaware. Their story is interspersed with natural history lessons of the area, other wildlife, like monk seals, and a past that humans have wrought, both good and bad. I loved Carl Safina's writing and research, maps and pictures; it just was a little long for me ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is some of the best nature writing I have ever encountered. Carl Safina explores issues of marine conservation and the history of human use of marine resources by following the travels of a single albatross named Amelia. As she flies across the Pacific, feeding her chick and herself, Safina recounts the ecological atrocities committed by humans in their search for albatross eggs and feathers; examines how modern fishing practices still threaten marine animals and what steps are being taken ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everything you wanted to know about albatross. Carl Safina's own passion for these amazing creatures infuses the entire book, and the science part reads like a page turner. He brings the reader into the strange and remote world of Northwest Hawaiian Islands conservation work and doesn't let us go until we have seen everything, including the trash on the beach and the albatross chicks dead on their nest because they have too much plastic in their gut. For anyone planning to visit Oahu or Kauai--a ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book of natural history is definitely a stand-out for 2014 reading. Although the main topic is albatrosses, the book ranges over a broader area--ocean health, sharks, sea turtles, ocean fishing. Not only does Safina convey a lot of information, but also his language is poetic and insightful. I read this for my bird club book club, and there was one passage about bliss and the necessity of stress that three of the eight of us had marked as especially important. I'd like to read more of Safin ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bird-books
The background information about albatrosses, how they came to be named, and their natural history, was superb. The stories of human cruelty are relentless and heartbreaking, and yet seem necessary. I am a much deeper advocate for albatrosses as a result of reading this book.

The author showed bits of chauvinism at times in descriptions of his female colleagues.
David Robertson
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Carl Safina is an gifted writer who has produced a sweeping and engaging book about the Pacific Ocean ecosystem focused on seabirds and fish. His "guide" and inspiration is Amelia, a hardworking parent Laysan Albatross wearing a state-of-the-art satellite tracking transmitter. Safina's subtitle, ("Visions of Hope and Survival"), however, is misleading, because this book is overwhelmingly depressing, and the ecological and economic conditions he described in 2002 have only become more dire in the ...more
Samantha Chapnick
The whole book was brilliant for anyone interested in animals (esp. sea life) and nature. It’s filled with facts and anecdotes I found fascinating (an albatross circles the planet at the equivalent of the equator 3 1/2 times every year!!). And he does a really great job of taking you there. Whether there is Midway Island crammed with albatross is under every foot path, or to the bloody hooks of a fishing line drowning magnificent birds for no reason.

This is why I had to stop reading the book in
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Truly eye-opening about albatrosses. For instance, the incredible feats of navigation and endurance they achieve to feed themselves and sustain their chicks.) Safina is also thought-provoking and eloquent: “I am impressed anew by... how much the harshness that challenges life is what causes the beauty. Birds fly because they must escape predators and search for food. Trees grow skyward because they compete fiercely with other trees for light. Living things need something to push off of. Each of ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
A really good commentary on the Albatross and other wildlife. A good mix of sadness as the author details the cost of human interaction with the albatross, and hope as the author tell stories of conservation success. I found this well written and easy to get involved in the daily life of the birds at the nesting grounds as the story captured the drama of the early life of the birds. Its also a reality check when he tells of the survival rates of different species young and the level needed to su ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A long difficult book about connections: between bird and bird, bird and shark, people and bird. The vast Pacific Ocean is the broad template of this story; the Northwest Hawaiian Islands the stage. The connections that go back many millions of years have been disrupted by the coming of man. The destruction wrought is heartbreaking; we are all a party to this sad story. The book highlights those, few, eccentric souls who are trying to right these wrongs by studying and documenting breeding birds ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
An informative and well written book about these incredible seabirds. He love and wonder of nature shines through. The cruelty that man has inflicted on these animals is breathtakingly horrific. Overall very good but I felt that I had absorbed the best of the book in the first 75% and then it seemed a bit repetitious. I definitely intend to read his other books.
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Though sometimes it dragged on, Safina really does a great job at reiterating his philosophies. I really enjoyed the personification of the albatross and just how information-driven it was, yet, I felt as though I was reading a story rather than a nonfiction science novel.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved this book. Slow and meditative, and at the same time depressing when you have to read about the sheer number of deaths and also all that garbage that makes its way to the farthest reaches of the oceans.
Stephen Orth
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book. The language is as magical as the places the author visits. And his clear-eyed view of what a sentimentalist might call progress is refreshing. Loved it.
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-nature
Beautifully written. Utterly inspiring.
Betsey Porter
Interesting but

There are so very many typos and proofreading errors in the ebook, I couldn't really immerse myself in the story.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was less about albatrosses than I thought it was going to be, and while those sections were still my favorite, the rest of the book was also very nice. Every few chapters the author returns to Amelia the Laysan albatross and her imagined experiences inferred from satellite signals. In between, the author visits various scientists and fisherpeople throughout the North Pacific Ocean to see how their activities impact the albatrosses and other animals inhabiting the area. I'd say this is ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the best natural history book I have read in a long time. Safina is funny, insightful, introspective, informative and well researched. He puts forth some good fodder to chew on. I found myself dog earring and hightlighting all over the place. I would love to have been involved in the research he participated in. I didn't want the book to end. I have an even greater love and appreciation for theses amazing birds and my heart aches for what the greed of humans has put them through. Well do ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I wasn't taken by this book - perhaps beacause I'm not a bird lover. However, I've always respected Safina's passion and commiment to the sustainability of our oceans and environment. There are moments in this book where the writing is truly poetic, eliciting insights into the links between animals and humans that make you lift your head from the page and pause to think. I'll continue reading Safina's works for these moments. He's also a fantastic speaker/presenter. It's worth Youtubing his work ...more
David Ward
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival by Carl Safina (Holt McDougal 2003)(598.42). This is a very well done look at the health of our oceans and the creatures that depend on the sea for habitat and survival. My rating 7.5, finished 2004. I reread this 9/23/16 and downgraded it to 7/10. I purchased a [PB] copy in fair condition from McKays August 12, 2016 for $1.00.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm in love with Safina. I want him to write more books, right away. I want to sell all my worldly goods and devote my life to saving birds.

Safina's a delicious prose stylist with a clear, burning passion for animals. Highly recommended.
This book surprised me, I thought; how much can you write about an Albatross? Turns out it's great stuff. Full of the author's experiences all over the world with this misunderstood bird, and written in a way that draws you into the story of the plight of the Albatross. ...more
Adrienne Shea-michiels
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This and his other 3 books bring the reader right into the sea with whales, swordfish, salmon and tuna or into the air with seabirds. He's a marine biologist and ecologist with a bent towards compromise and cooperation. He's a great teacher. ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Much easier to get into than song of the blue ocean. I enjoyed the layout of the book, always returning to the tagged albatross after exploring issues surrounding their conservation and challenges these species face.
Suzanne Auckerman
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good natural history of the albatross; but another depressing view of what is happening with the ocean. This is not a new book as it came out in 2003. However, according to Birdlife International, not much has changed. Will have to apply for a trip to Midway Atoll Nat'l Wildlife Refuge.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Suzanne
Shelves: favorite-authors
Another interesting journey taken by Carl Safina. The amount of plastic in the ocean and what it is doing to wildlife is distressing at the very least. Safina books are a great combination of the personal, the natural, and the scientific. This one is no exception.
Aron Wagner
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Stilted prose and overblown metaphors distracted me from the authentically fascinating science. I read the whole thing and got a lot out of it, but I wish it had spent a longer time in the hands of a capable editor.
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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

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25 likes · 4 comments
“I am impressed anew by... how much the harshness that challenges life is what causes the beauty. Birds fly because they must escape predators and search for food. Trees grow skyward because they compete fiercely with other trees for light. Living things need something to push off of. Each of us needs challenges to give us the right shape.” 3 likes
“The physics of an albatross’s wing differs from that of most other birds, whose bodies are designed for powered flight. That is because albatrosses are constructed more to float in the air than to fly. Compared to many other birds, which power flight with elongated “hand” bones, the proportions of an albatross wing are humanlike—long arm bones, short “hand” bones—almost as though humans were also meant to glide. Or as if, were we suddenly transformed into birds, we would most naturally become albatrosses.” 0 likes
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