Encyclopedia of the Sea

Encyclopedia of the Sea

by Richard Ellis

From one of the world's leading experts on the sea comes this ocean-sized compendium of aquatic life and lore. Richard Ellis—who is also recognized as America's foremost painter of marine subjects—gives us a masterful synthesis of years of investigation and tens of thousands of disparate sources. The result is the first comprehensive, fully illustrated,


From one of the world's leading experts on the sea comes this ocean-sized compendium of aquatic life and lore. Richard Ellis—who is also recognized as America's foremost painter of marine subjects—gives us a masterful synthesis of years of investigation and tens of thousands of disparate sources. The result is the first comprehensive, fully illustrated, and highly readable reference on almost everything that is known about the sea.

Ellis's research has taken him all over the world—from Nantucket to Patagonia, from Newfoundland to New Zealand. Now he leads us on a great journey: from the amazing diversity of the creatures of the oceans to the birds who inhabit the skies above them; from the little-known realms of marine geography to the men and women who have bravely explored them; from the fabulous legends the sea has inspired through the ages to the intriguing evolution of the tools of nautical navigation.

With more than 450 of the author's own drawings and paintings accompanying the text, Ellis reveals the many wonders of the oceans—abalone, zooxanthellae, and everything in between. We learn about the peculiar behavior of Vampyroteuthis infernalis (the "vampire squid from hell") and about Mocha Dick, the real sperm whale that may have inspired Melville's Moby-Dick; where the crown-of-thorns starfish gets its name and how the rare coelacanth, cousin to a species extinct for 70 million years—and one of the most mispronounced fish in the sea—was rediscovered. We visit lovely and exotic locations from Venice to Ni'ihau (Hawaii's "forbidden isle"), and consider both the fearsome kraken (a mythical sea monster often seen by Scandinavian clergymen) and the notorious real-life pirate Captain Kidd (whose hidden treasure was never found).

Exhaustive, concise, and entertaining, the Encyclopedia of the Sea is invaluable as an all-inclusive, one-volume source for anyone interested in the sea, its inhabitants, and man's exploration of its mysteries.

Editorial Reviews

Men's Journal
Encyclopedia of the Sea, written and superbly illustrated by Richard Ellis, scours the ocean, from abalone to zooxanthellae, a protozoan essential to the life of a coral reef. This magical work inspires a childlike wonder at all things aquatic. You will find piercing descriptions of sea creatures, but you'll also be granted excursions into geography, climatology, literature, and history. What Ellis has produced is a guide to the mysteries of the watery depths. He writes of the feeding behavior of humpback whales, as they "corral small fishes underwater and then lunge open-mouthed to the surface to engulf them," the same passion that informs his entry on the Bikini atoll atomic tests in 1946, one of which "produced a one-million-ton hollow column of water, 2,000 feet in diameter, which rose to a mile above Bikini Lagoon before crashing down in a storm of waves, debris, and radioactivity." For Ellis, there is no such thing as calm seas.
Natural History
This is an excellent reference text. Marine expert and artist Richard Ellis reprots on nearly everything about ocean life, from the argonaut (an octopus) to zooxanthellae (symbiotic dinoflagellates).
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Biologist Ellis's previous books (The Search for the Giant Squid, etc.) have made him America's foremost writer on marine research. His 10th is a mighty reference work, encompassing in thousands of alphabetical entries not just the fish, plants and invertebrates that populate the world's oceans, but also its geography, geology, human uses and colorful history. Ellis aims to produce both a catalogue of facts and definitions, and a volume for recreational browsers; though it won't supplant more specialized compendia, it succeeds on both counts. Those hungry for facts about the fish 'n' chips staple plaice will also learn on the same page that early bony fish--placoderms--might have grown to 30 feet long. Above these entries lies Pitcairn Island, the most isolated settlement in the world, whose fewer than 100 residents descend from the Bounty mutineers. Ellis doesn't get everything in: he's understandably strongest on biology, less comprehensive in history and the arts. There are Homer and Winslow Homer, but no Horatio Hornblower. There's aircraft carrier and Midway, Battle of, but no medieval battle of Lepanto, and no ancient battle of Actium. As for cuisine and sport, there's surfing, but no related terms--and no sushi. Data hunters might be disappointed that Ellis rarely offers references or further reading. But these complaints pale beside the great range of information Ellis has singlehandedly assembled, and the fun to be had as readers survey it. Eight pages of color paintings and 471 illustrations, all by Ellis, adorn the work. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Ellis, an author (Men and Whales; The Search for the Giant Squid), scientific illustrator and painter of marine natural history, and exhibit designer and consultant to science museums, has compiled a convenient one-volume encyclopedia on the sea. The alphabetically arranged text consists of short paragraphs on topics in marine biology, oceanography, fisheries, geography, and maritime and naval history. Entries on echinoderms, the Kuroshio current, Ferdinand Magellan, the Titanic, and the International Whaling Commission are examples of its broad scope. Most entries have cross references to related topics, but no bibliographical references for further reading are provided. Eight pages of Ellis's color paintings (not seen) and hundreds of his own illustrations enhance the text. Although the topics included here receive more in-depth coverage in general encyclopedias or the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (LJ 9/1/97), the handy format makes the book useful as a ready-reference source for public and college libraries. Buy one copy for reference and one for circulation.--Judith B. Barnett, Pell Marine Science Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Kingston Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Ellis is a leading world expert on aquatic life and ocean lore, and his Encyclopedia Of The Sea is an impressive compendium of facts and information gathers years of investigation from various sources to provide the first comprehensive illustrated reference on almost everything known about the sea. The A-Z reference will prove an invaluable guide and a 'must' purchase for any strong science library collection.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.34(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.36(d)

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Meet the Author

Richard Ellis is the author of ten previous books, including The Book of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, The Book of Sharks, Men and Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Great White Shark (with John McCosker), Deep Atlantic, Imagining Atlantis, and The Search for the Giant Squid.

He is also a celebrated marine artist whose paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. He has written and illustrated articles for numerous magazines, including Audubon, National Geographic, Discover, and Scientific American. He lives in New York City.

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