Our interviews on this subject focus largely on the problems faced by the world’s oceans as an effect of man’s depredations. Recommended books include ones that look at overfishing and polluting to the detriment of many forms of marine life. The books chosen illustrate the complicated relationship between humans and the sea.
Geologist Jan Zalasiewicz chooses his best books on Anthropocene oceans and talks about what we can learn from studying the ocean floor. Meanwhile marine biologist Helen Scales talks about the joys of diving and how ocean life is threatened by humankind.
Travel writer and historian Philip Marsden and philosopher Denise Russell both chose their best books on the sea, focusing on humankind’s place on it. Marsden discusses the origins of the British Navy and Herman Melville, but argues that with the advance of technology, struggles with the ocean have fundamentally changed. The fish are in retreat because we’ve gotten too good at fishing. Denise Russell chooses books that discuss how this phenomenon is leading to the destruction of some human sea-based communities, such as the sea gypsies of south-east Asia.
She also discusses modern piracy. Historian Adrian Tinniswood chooses his best books about the old-fashioned kind of pirates of the Caribbean and the Barbary coast.
The ‘subterranaut’ describes how the discovery of ancient bacteria miles beneath the Earth’s surface opens the possibility of finding life on Mars. He picks five books that show how our knowledge of life deep in this planet could lead us to discover it elsewhere.