Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola. New York: Frances Foster Books, 2012.
From the time she was quite young, Sylvia Earle loved the outdoors. She spent her early childhood on a farm in New Jersey exploring the animals and plants around her. Her family moved to Florida when Sylvia was 12, to a home with a backyard on the Gulf of Mexico. Once Sylvia began exploring the waters of the Gulf, she found her life’s calling. Throughout her career as an oceanographer, Sylvia has been driven to push the boundaries of the possible in order to find out more about the underwater world she loves so much. Along the way, she has defied all expectations of what a woman could do. In fact her list of achievements is impressive for any marine scientist. She even spent two weeks leading a team of divers living underwater off the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But it was not enough for Sylvia to learn about the oceans and the life undersea. She wanted to share the wonder of that underwater world with other people. She has become a spokesperson for the importance of our oceans, sharing her passion and wonder at the diversity of creatures living under the sea with the rest of us. She believes that in order for people to truly care about the oceans, they have to know and understand them.
This book goes a long way toward furthering Sylvia’s goal. Nivola is able to convey Sylvia’s sense of wonder and excitement. The amazing illustrations help the reader feel as if they are immersed in that watery world with Sylvia. The picture of whales frollicking captures the graceful dance of these huge animals. I was particularly struck by the images of life in the deep oceans where the creatures create their own light. Sylvia described one expedition 3,000 feet down as like “diving into a galaxy,” and the accompanying picture conveys that sensation in a way that makes the reader feel drawn into and part of the experience.
This book is a wonderful biography of Sylvia’s life. But it is so much more than that. It is also the story of the amazing diversity of the oceans that cover so much of our world. By allowing us to share in Sylvia’s sense of wonder and joy, it helps us to understand her better and to share her love of Earth’s oceans. I encourage you to read this book and be inspired by this amazing woman and the even more amazing aquatic world she loves.
This review also appeared on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Shelf Life blog on May 24, 2012.
Review on Waking Brain Cells
Deep Into the Blue with Ocean Explorer Sylvia Earle on Kirkus Reviews
Mission Blue: Sylvia Earle Alliance