Adventures Beneath the Sea

Overview


What would it be like to live sixty feet below the ocean waves? Author Ken Mallory and photographer Brian Skerry found out. They spent a week in the Aquarius underwater laboratory on a coral reef off the Florida Keys. They lived in cramped quarters. They went scuba diving every day—to study the fish of the reef and to use the underwater outhouse. They slept in bunks with the constant crackle of snapping shrimp coming through the shell of their underwater home. Skerry's photographs from the pages of National ...
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Overview


What would it be like to live sixty feet below the ocean waves? Author Ken Mallory and photographer Brian Skerry found out. They spent a week in the Aquarius underwater laboratory on a coral reef off the Florida Keys. They lived in cramped quarters. They went scuba diving every day—to study the fish of the reef and to use the underwater outhouse. They slept in bunks with the constant crackle of snapping shrimp coming through the shell of their underwater home. Skerry's photographs from the pages of National Geographic Magazine capture the stunning sights of a strange undersea habitat in this winner of the John Burroughs Nature Books for Young Readers Award.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
How can scientists study coral reefs when researchers are limited to short visits to the ocean depths? Since Leonardo da Vinci, people have been inventing ways to dive while taking a bit of the outer world's atmosphere with them. One of the most successful undersea inventions has been the Aquarius, a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) underwater research station—or underwater space station—with living quarters, now stationed sixty miles down in the Florida Keys at Conch Reef. Mallory describes this steel undersea habitat which measures 43 feet long and 9 feet in diameter, as like "a mobile home someone has driven into the ocean where it rests in place." This facility holds six people so the Aquarius is cozy! Mallory describes his week-long adventure in the Aquarius in this remarkable book for young readers. The trip begins with lots of training, particularly, diving skills and learning how to work and navigate in the deep ocean. Once crew members are ready for these challenges, they get used to sleeping in a small bunks, eating limited food choices plus assisting researchers with their mission: learning about coral reef animals and whether or not they stay close to the reef night and day. The author describes catching fish and placing tracking devices in them to determine their whereabouts. Imagine sipping your morning orange juice while looking out of a "window" through which fish are watching you, and later going out of the station with research equipment. Details like these make the adventure come alive. The book also details pressure and how it affects a diver's lungs, the complicated process of coming back safely to the surface, how the Aquarius is anchored to a huge buoy that helps it operate, coral reefs in danger plus the remarkable ocean dwellers the researchers encounter. Amazing photos by National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry combined with lively, well-written text, book lists for older and younger readers, web sites and extensive index makes this an adventure not to be missed! Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Mallory has been "messing about" with water for a goodly while, as evinced in such books as Swimming with Hammerhead Sharks (2001) and Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano (2006, both Houghton). Here he invites readers to squeeze into Aquarius, a venerable science-station habitat resting on the sea floor at a depth of 60 feet in the Florida Keys. The readable text explains the complexities of training for a weeklong stay, the aims of the scientists on the team, and what it is like to spend 24/7 in squashed companionship in a 43' × 9' cylinder as part of a crew of seven. He groans over less-than-gourmet freeze-dried meals, recounts major inconveniences like toilet clogs (plus the somewhat unsavory solution to same), and describes a scary power outage. Sidebars contain interesting information on what the crew ate, the history of various underwater habitats, and the dangers of too-rapid decompression while returning to the surface. Full-color photos abound. Uneven in quality, they range from close-ups of the insertion of computer chips into live fish bellies to longer shots of reef residents and wet-suited divers going about their work. All in all, this is a rather nifty look at scientists busily at work on interesting projects, all the while living like human hermit crabs in a shell-type lab.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews

Most children know what an astronaut is, but an aquanaut? Not so common. Focusing on a one-week expedition in the underwater science station Aquarius, Mallory and marine photographer Skerry literally immerse themselves in this adventure. The science station is an 80-ton cylindrical steel chamber that's like "a mobile home someone has driven into the ocean." The team's project is to electronically tag fish and observe their daily habits. The narrative chronicles the safety training needed before the expedition, the implantation of tags or pingers inside the fish and the day-to-day experience of living 60 feet below the ocean's surface. What do aquanauts eat? Can you make telephone calls and send e-mails? And most importantly—is it possible for a toilet to explode from too much pressure? (Answer: yes.) Full-page interludes on topics such as sea-habitat history and the importance of decompression are disruptive at times but ultimately add to the understanding of this undersea adventure. A rather dry design aside, this book intrigues. (introduction, further reading, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590786079
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,501,659
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author


Kenneth Mallory is the former Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Programs at Boston's New England Aquarium. He took part in two different Aquarius missions.

Brian Skerry
is an award-winning photojournalist and an assignment photographer for National Geographic mazagine.
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