Publisher: Oxford University Press Date of Publication: 2005
Price: £25 ISBN: 0 19 860687 7
Pages: 256 Format: Hardcover

Overall Score:

Target Readership Sen. Secondary For help with criteria, click here


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Introduction; 1 - Plates on the move; 2 - Patterns and Cycles; 3 - Salt, sun and sea level; 4 - Silent, swift and strong; 5 - Hidden riches of the oceans; Ocean maps; 6 - Evolution and extinction; 7 - The web of life; 8 - Marine lifestyles; 9 - Complex communities; 10 - Fragile environments; Conclusion.



The ocean has always had an appeal but recently it has been getting far more mainstream attention because of the discovery of it's interactions with other key driving systems such as the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. It has also attracted interest in terms of its role in global warming. This has given the ocean a high public profile - what is needed is to capture this interest.

This text is a high-quality production that aims to take a serious look at the oceans whilst still appealing to a mass audience. We start with an introduction that looks at the value past societies have put on the sea from trade and discovery to ocean sciences past and present. From this, the text is divided roughly into two - physical and biological. The physical side goes first with an opening chapter on plate tectonics. There is a good basic description of the process followed by the impact this would have on ocean evolution. Chapter two looks broadly at ocean geomorphology in terms of erosion and deposition, coastal processes, seafloor sediments and coral reefs. Next, we move on to ocean chemistry with special focus on salinity, the carbon cycle and ocean layers (thermal and photic). Chapter four turns to look at the main processes we get to meet at the seaside: waves, tides and currents. There's also a brief but useful section on ocean climates and weather. So far the story has been of ocean features: this final chapter in the physical section looks at the distribution of ocean and seabed resources and how we can utilise them. A central section of this book is taken up by maps of the world's oceans and basic descriptions about them. Chapter six heralds the move into ocean biology and ecology. After a brief look at DNA there is an overview of development from the earliest geological times to the early Tertiary. It's followed by a very brief account of extinction events. We would best recognise chapter seven as basic ecology from the divisions of life, through food webs and energy flows to plankton and algae. Chapter eight could best be thought about as applied survival tactics with an exploration of the ways in which organisms adapt, move, perceive, hunt, protect themselves and reproduce! All of this is found in a series of ecosystems and so chapter ten focusses of the range of communities seen from shoreline to deep ocean. A final chapter examines the impact of humans to oceans (usually negative) and in so doing, highlights the problems we cause and the damage we create. The conclusion looks at the problems and prospects we face and suggests some ways forward.

This is one of the most stunningly produced texts to cover some serious oceanography at this educational level. Large numbers of colour photographs and diagrams make this a visually rich text. In terms of learning there are summaries, sidebar links to other, related, parts of the text. Although there are areas that are less well covered (as one might expect in a text this size) all the main aspects are mentioned making this an excellent introduction to the topic. Quality and price make this a definite 'must-buy' for both school and personal library.


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