The sea has always inspired tales of adventure and discovery in the face of a vast, unpredictable unknown. Prager, chief scientist at the undersea research station Aquarius Reef Base, in the Florida Keys, uses adventure to frame this collection of firsthand accounts about the challenges faced by marine scientists. But adventure is a far cry from glamour: research often means close quarters on a small ship, usually with bad food, infrequent showers and changeable weather, as well as long days of collecting data. With tongue only slightly in cheek, Prager offers advice for any field scientist: "always bring spare pencils" and be prepared for things to go wrong, from pirates to valuable equipment getting lost or damaged. In exchange, scientists look forward to the sense-of-wonder moments: swimming with whale sharks, seeing St. Elmo's Fire dance along the rigging. Focused on adventure rather than in-depth science, this entertaining book will appeal most to casual and younger readers. 4 color and 28 b&w illus. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks, and Living Undersea with Ocean Expertsby Ellen Prager
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To the average office-dweller, marine scientists seem to have the good life: cruising at sea for weeks at a time, swimming in warm coastal waters, living in tropical paradises. But ocean scientists who go to sea will tell you that it is no vacation. Creature comforts are few and the obstacles seemingly insurmountable, yet an abundance of wonder and discovery still awaits those who take to the ocean. Chasing Science at Sea immerses readers in the world of those who regularly go to sea—aquanauts living underwater, marine biologists seeking unseen life in the deep ocean, and the tall-ship captains at the helm, among others—and tells the fascinating tale of what life—and science—is like at the mercy of Mother Nature.
With passion and wit, well-known marine scientist Ellen Prager shares her stories as well as those of her colleagues, revealing that in the field ingenuity and a good sense of humor are as essential as water, sunblock, and GPS. Serendipity is invaluable, and while collecting data is the goal, sometimes just getting back to shore means success. But despite the physical hardship and emotional duress that come with the work, optimism and adventure prompt a particularly hardy species of scientist to return again and again to the sea.
Filled with firsthand accounts of the challenges and triumphs of dealing with the extreme forces of nature and the unpredictable world of the ocean, Chasing Science at Sea is a unique glimpse below the water line at what it is like and why it is important to study, explore, and spend time in one of our planet’s most fascinating and foreign environments.
"Going into the field is an exciting, challenging, and inspiring part of doing ocean science; it is also essential," writes Prager, currently chief scientist of the undersea research station, Aquarius Reef Base. Using anecdotes from colleagues and from her own career, she succeeds in showing the reader that doing science can be both fun and thrilling, especially when it involves work in and on the ocean. She also reminds us that field research is important to doing good science and that learning more about the world's oceans is essential to our future. The book is well written, and its informal, easy-to-read style will make it appealing to young adults interested in science as a future career as well as a great adjunct reading assignment for science classes in high school and college. Recommended for public, high school, and college libraries. [For other accounts on the joys of scientific fieldwork, see Margaret D. Lowman's Life in the Treetops, Marty Crump's In Search of the Golden Frog, and Kate Jackson's Mean and Lowly Things.-Ed.]
Readers will enjoy the sea stories, personal reminiscences, and enthusiasm that permeate this book. In addition, this book should be very popular with young and future scientists who want a taste of what oceanography can be like.
Leslie R. Sautter
Readers will enjoy the sea stories, personal reminiscences, and enthusiasm that permeate this book. In addition, this book should be very popular with young and future scientists who want a taste of what oceanography can be like."
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Meet the Author
Ellen J. Prager is currently the chief scientist at the world’s only undersea research station, Aquarius Reef Base, in the Florida Keys and a freelance writer. Among her publications are The Oceans and Furious Earth: The Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis; a series of children’s books including Sand, Volcano, and Earthquakes with the National Geographic Society; and a children’s novel, Adventure on Dolphin Island.
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