The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef / Edition 1

The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef / Edition 1

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by Osha Gray Davidson
     
 

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ISBN-10: 047117727X

ISBN-13: 9780471177272

Pub. Date: 03/28/1998

Publisher: Wiley

"There is a word for what Darwin and the rest of us have felt when in the presence of the reef: 'awe.' Confronted with the reef, awe is the most appropriate response. It is probably in our nature. It is also, apparently, in our nature to destroy that which we hold in awe." —from The Enchanted Braid

Of the myriad ecosystems populating the underwater world

Overview

"There is a word for what Darwin and the rest of us have felt when in the presence of the reef: 'awe.' Confronted with the reef, awe is the most appropriate response. It is probably in our nature. It is also, apparently, in our nature to destroy that which we hold in awe." —from The Enchanted Braid

Of the myriad ecosystems populating the underwater world, coral reefs are by far the most complex. While their stunning beauty has been extolled for centuries, the intricate workings of reef environments remained largely hidden from view. In fact, until the advent of scuba diving just fifty years ago, corals have been among the last natural histories to be extensively explored. The high passion with which scientists have greeted this particular investigation —beginning with the foundational theories of Charles Darwin in 1842—is perhaps unprecedented, but hardly difficult to understand. A phenomenon of both awesome beauty and vital importance, the coral reef is home to the most diverse range of species of any environment on the planet, including fish, shrimps, worms, snails, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea stars, urchins, anemones, and sea squirts.

The crux of reef life, scientists have discovered, lies in nature's most intimate example of symbiosis: the mutually beneficial relationship between the coral polyp and its "tenant," the zooxanthellate algae. Davidson's history begins with this deceptively diminutive hybrid, the engine behind the construction of the limestone-based coral structure. Together, the three elements comprise a unique zoophytalite (animal-plant-mineral) form, or an "enchanted braid."

Aided by an eight-page, full-color photographic insert demonstrating the incredible intricacies of the reef and its unique inhabitants, The Enchanted Braid identifies the approximately 240,000 square miles of coral reef on the planet today as indispensable not only to the livelihood of the oceans but also to humans. The reef is, after all, the "soul of the sea," the spawning ground for tens of thousands of marine species. As sources of food (many islands rely on reefs for all their protein), medicine (corals are used in bone grafts and to fight cancer and leukemia), and detailed insight into the history of climatic conditions, coral reefs are critically important to human life on Earth. However, in a world of oil tanker disasters, global warming, and dwindling natural resources, they are also in grave danger of extinction.

Osha Gray Davidson's urgent clarion call to halt today's man-made degradation of coral reefs is both alarming and persuasive, effectively underscored by the rich historical context of passages from Darwin's captivating diary of his seminal work on reefs 150 years ago. Like the coral reef, The Enchanted Braid is itself a rare hybrid, a graceful combination of aesthetic appreciation, scientific inquiry, and environmental manifesto.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471177272
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
03/28/1998
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.04(d)

Table of Contents

THE SOUL OF THE SEA.

"Who Has Known the Ocean?" Animal, Mineral, Vegetable.

Darwin in Paradise.

The Rise of Corals.

The Heart of Lightness.

The Outer Strands.

A Song of Love and Death.

Fish Stories.

Neither Brethren nor Underlings.

HUMAN/NATURE.

The Jakarta Scenario.

"Either We Go Deep or We Starve." The Apo Scenario.

Return to Oceanus.

Disasters, Catastrophes, and Tragedies.

Unweaving the Outer Braids.

Once More to the Keys.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Acknowledgments.

Index.

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The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Enchanted Braid is a particularly informative novel filled with interesting scientific information that however does not read like a textbook. This book takes a look at life of the coral reef and its importance in the world. He answers the question, how do you comprehend something as complex as the coral reef?, throughout his chapters, he gives a basic understanding of what is all involved in a coral reef. It is not necessary to know about coral reefs before reading this novel; he provides a good understanding by explaining hard to understand concepts with good analogies and examples with the use of his own personal stories. The author uses a poetic style when discussing his point and telling his stories. You can see his poetic side just by looking at the chapters names; he uses quotes as the titles of his chapters that pertain to what the content is. He also states the importance of preserving this amazing life form and talks about the dangers it faces. He is very proactive about saving the coral reefs he states “Man’s finger print is found everywhere in the ocean” and describes the impact humans have on the coral reef. This novel is a great read for avid divers and general audiences who would like to learn more about coral reef. He explains the coral reef in a comprehendible way that is easy and fun for all audiences.