Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman

Read January 2020
Recommended for people who like oceans
 ★     ★     ★    ★    ★   

Almost perfect*

This is a solid overview of the ocean environment that should appeal to both visual and book learners. Done in a very friendly format mix of text and colorful doodlesque-pictures, one could read a little or a lot at a time. It’s also a book that does a nice job of transcending an age target. I’d comfortably give this to a nine-year-old who was interested in the ocean, but equally, I plan to buy and re-read it myself as an ocean primer. As a swimmer and a snorkeler, much of my information on the ocean has been picked up in a hodge-podge of areas, so I think a solid overview is worth the investment.

The sections include:
1. The ocean: why is it salty, the speed of sound, trade winds, the ocean floor, tides, currents, waves
2. Fish: food chain, bioluminescence, fish anatomy, schools, shark anatomy, jellyfish anatomy, deep sea creatures
3. Whales: anatomy, size comparison, bubble-net feeding, dolphins, echolocation, species, manatees
4. Beaches: sand, tide pools ecosystem, shell anatomy, seaweed, shore birds, ocean birds, crab anatomy, snails and scallops
5. The depths: ocean floor, sea cucumbers, fishes, hunting, octopus, squids, lobster, starfish, anemones, turtles, migrations
6. Reefs: zones, polyps, coral, fish support, the Great Barrier Reef, sea horses, sponges, grasses, nudibranches
7. The arctic: ice, glaciers, icebergs, sea lions and seals, narwhals, penguins, polar bears)
8. Humans and the sea: low and high impact fishing, lighthouses, studying the ocean, studying the sea, sea commerce, climate change, good news.
It also includes a bibliography and recommended reading.

Some of the material is strictly fact presentation (with pictures) that might appeal to readers who like numbers, or who do not already have an appreciation of scale. For instance, the two pages on ‘Oceans’ describe the maximum depth of each ocean and a fun fact or two.
“Atlantic Ocean: covers 20 percent of the Earth’s surface
*slowly growing outward…
*average depth 11,000 feet.”

However, it isn’t just a litany of numbers. There’s description as well, such as how sand can be made of coral, volcanic rock, quartz or seashells, with drawings that illustrate how the textures and sizes differ. Charts are interesting, such as the one that compares types of seashells, or types/sizes of whales and types of dolphins.

Rothman clearly understands that part of the draw of the ocean is its animals, and significant space is devoted to the classic favorites (whales, dolphins, penguins, sea horses) as well as some more unusual and fun creatures (sea cucumbers, nudibranches).

The pictures enable potential intimidating sciencey-stuff (tides, world current flow) seem accessible. The text and mix of information types makes the pictures, and what could be just an encyclopedia of creatures, be more contextual and less overwhelming. Overall, an extremely well done book that I’ll look forward to seeing in print.

*my one caveat is that the text–probably in an effort to be fun and add variety–is occasionally in cursive. it’s the least readable of the variety of the fonts in this book, not only because it’s cursive, but it’s a couple grades above physician-level-cursive. I also had to laugh when I saw it, because the State of WI government just had a dust-up over whether or not to mandate schools include cursive writing in their curriculum.

**I’ll come back and add pictures after I buy and after publication date

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, and to Fran for reviewing and bringing it to my attention.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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