Blue Ocean Institute

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Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival

eye-of-the-albatross

Eye of the Albatross takes us soaring to locales where whales, sea turtles, penguins, and shearwaters flourish in their own quotidian rhythms. Carl Safina’s guide and inspiration is an albatross he calls Amelia, whose life and far-flung flights he describes in fascinating detail. Interwoven with recollections of whalers and famous explorers, Eye of the Albatross probes the unmistakable environmental impact of the encounters between man and marine life. Safina’s perceptive and authoritative portrait results in a transforming ride to the ends of the Earth for the reader, as well as an eye-opening look at the health of our oceans.

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From Publishers Weekly

“In this dazzling volume, Safina, a MacArthur award recipient, recounts his travels to remote portions of the northwest Hawaiian Islands to witness albatross breeding season, during which parent birds fly across entire oceans as much as 25,000 miles to hunt sufficient food to nourish their single chicks. Albatross survival, Safina (Song for the Blue Ocean) shows, is increasingly vulnerable to modern conditions; indeed, the shameful history of albatross exploitation, when the magnificent birds were all but exterminated in some areas for their valued eggs and feathers, is but an early chapter in the struggle against perils that now include entrapment in commercial fishing nets, ingesting plastic trash that washes ashore in vast quantities on their nesting islands and depletion of food stocks due to global warming. By turns rhapsodic, scolding and mystical, the book discusses issues that affect other seabirds, seals, sharks and sea turtles. But the albatross (“a great symphony of flesh, perception, bone, and feathers”) remains its primary focus. Clinically minded readers may question Safina’s tendency to psychologize animals or introduce mythological elements into his narrative, and some sections of the book resonate with more romantic passion than science. Still, Safina’s encyclopedic knowledge and spirited prose provide a stunningly intimate portrait of an environment.” (May 14)

Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

“The recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship and a Pew Scholar’s Award in Conservation and the Environment, Safina (Song for the Blue Ocean) attempts to “tell a story of struggle and hope and the power of sheer persistence and of life’s resilience.” In narrating this tale, he has chosen as his guide a Laysan albatross named Amelia, “a great symphony of flesh, perception, bone, and feathers, composed of long movements and set to ever-changing rhythms of light, wind, and water.” With the author and Amelia, the reader is taken on a tour of the oceans and introduced to many other kinds of ocean wildlife as well. The vice-president for marine conservation at the National Audubon Society, Safina focuses on the qualities of peace and tranquility in nature rather than on the “eat or be eaten” aspect that most people see. The result is a refreshing approach to natural history writing that is recommended for general readers.” — Mary J. Nickum, Lakewood, CO

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

“The heroine of this powerful tale of marine life in the Pacific is Amelia, a Laysan albatross who was tagged with a satellite transmitter so that biologists could track her movements. Safina, author of the memorable “Song for the Blue Ocean,” offers up a remarkable portrait of Amelia as she glides thousands of miles, journeying from tropical waters to sub-Arctic seas, spending almost all of her life in the air. And he describes with equal vividness the ocean across which she travels: fusing ecological history and serious science to great effect, he shows how the delicate interplay between human intervention and natural adaptation affects the lives of seals, sharks, turtles, and seabirds. Although the author is never less than outraged at the damage that humans can cause, his critique is nuanced, and he shows how, in some respects, the ocean is healthier today than it was a century ago. The book goes astray only when he devotes time to the personal lives of his fellow-scientists, whose obsession with albatrosses is far less interesting than the albatrosses themselves.”

Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker


Book Reviews:

One of the most delightful natural history studies in decades."

— The Boston Globe on Eye of the Albatross


A beautiful, awe-inspiring tableau of our world as you’ve never seen it . . . a moving depiction of how interconnected life on this planet truly is."

— The Christian Science Monitor on Eye of the Albatross


Safina delivers a message full of wonder at the natural world and concern about the fragility of his subject . . . He cannot contain his delight in birds, fish, and the profusion of life on the islands he visits."

— The New York Times Book Review on Eye of the Albatross


Thought-provoking, witty and beautifully written . . . This is an honest first-person account of field biology in action."

— American Scientist on Eye of the Albatross


A beautiful, awe-inspiring tableau of our world as you’ve never seen it . . . a moving depiction of how interconnected life on this planet truly is"

— The Christian Science Monitor on Eye of the Albatross