5 best baby books to launch your child’s ocean education.

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As a few of you have noticed, we recently added a tiny new member to our little ocean outreach empire. A new baby opens up a chance for us to explore a whole new world of ocean-themed content tailored to our newest explorers. As a family of marine biologists, we very quickly accumulated a massive library of ocean-themed baby books, some amazing, some not-so-amazing.

After critical review by two PhDs in Marine Science and Conservation, for both scientific accuracy and pure delightfulness, here are my top 5 baby books to get your ocean education started off right.

biggestI’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.

Sherry must have written this book specifically for me, since Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna is already my most widely distributed paper. I know a few things about giant squids. I really love this book. The art is colorful and engaging. The story has a hilarious twist. It’s grounded in real ocean critters (though there’s something funky going on with that jellyfish). And there’s an important lesson about hubris and trophic position in marine food webs.  Read More

Core Themes for 2012: A renewed sense of wonder

In the past four years, we took our readers from the remote shoals of the Skeleton Coast to the unfathomable depths of the western Pacific. We touched the coasts of every continent, plumbed the depth of every ocean. Throughout this shared journey, the unspoken, implicit rationale, the very heart of our passion, the reason that any of this is worth doing, is that the ocean is awesome. When I say awesome, I don’t mean awesome in some mundane, biblical sense of fear and wonder when staring into the face of god; I’m talking about something much greater than our fragile brains can comprehend.

We have sailed so far, in these four years, and in this voyage I fear that we have found ourselves, like Ishmael, in “the damp, drizzly November of [our] souls.” The conversation at Southern Fried Science has changed, become more cynical, fatalistic, and driven by threats facing the ocean, rather than reasons why we value it. What once was a sea of boundless potential is now cast in bondage to statistics, benefit analyses, weights and measures, action items. In a way, this shift was inevitable. The ocean is in trouble, the world is changing, and the less we understand it, the more we will lose. Without someone to mark the ledger, to take the bearing, the ship is lost.

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Finding Melville’s Whale: The Whiteness of the Whale (Chapter 42)

After reading some of the reviews from our Readers’ Survey, many people list these among their favorite posts, while many others consider them their least favorite. So, we’ve decided to change the posting schedule for Finding Melville’s Whale. From now on, one or two new entries will appear every Sunday, instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays. We hope you will continue reading along with us as we dive deeper in Melville’s masterpiece.

The Whiteness of the Whale

The nameless horror
in that deepest sea
is the whitest whale.
Albino beasts, though
oft mistaken for
divine ravelry
are far more vicious
then their drab companions.
Moby Dick was the
Whitest whale, and the
most horrible.

Finding Melville’s Whale – Moby Dick (Chapter 41)

After reading some of the reviews from our Readers’ Survey, many people list these among their favorite posts, while many others consider them their least favorite. So, we’ve decided to change the posting schedule for Finding Melville’s Whale. From now on, one or two new entries will appear every Sunday, instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays. We hope you will continue reading along with us as we dive deeper in Melville’s masterpiece.

Moby Dick

By the glint of harpoon goblets, Ishmael
had sworn bloody vengeance upon the whale.
His future now belongs to Moby Dick.

A whale that terrorized the world’s oceans,
whose tremendous bulk instilled fear in all
men and marine life, even the sharks fled.

He became as god in whalemen’s legend,
ubiquitous, occupying all seas,
and immortal, no harpoon could harm him.

His great bulk, his forehead, wrinkled and white,
his deformed jaw, twisted and cruel, a scythe,
and a conscious, intelligent malice.

The were the fearsome features Ahab fought,
when from a shattered boat he pulled a blade
against the whale, in blood soaked seas, bodies,
lost comrades, swirled around him, Moby Dick,
who reached out with his reaper’s jaw and took
all that Ahab was, and also his leg.

In the throws of madness Ahab subsumed
his demons, leaving behind a monster-
filled captain, unyielding in his vengeance.

And the crew that sails with him, Savages,
Cannibals, Mongrels, broken men. Ishmael’s
oath is to this bloodthirsty endeavor.

First-night Watch and Midnight, Forecastle (Finding Melville’s Whale Chapters 39 and 40)

After reading some of the reviews from our Readers’ Survey, many people list these among their favorite posts, while many others consider them their least favorite. So, we’ve decided to change the posting schedule for Finding Melville’s Whale. From now on, one or two new entries will appear every Sunday, instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays. We hope you will continue reading along with us as we dive deeper in Melville’s masterpiece.

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Finding Melville’s Whale: Sunset and Dusk (Chapters 37 and 38)

Thanks to everyone who stuck around during our blog vacation. Our adventure into Moby Dick continues with chapters 37 and 38 – Sunset and Dusk. These two chapters have been consolidated from two soliloquies to a dialog between Ahab and Starbuck. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments. Visit this page for the complete collection to date: Finding Melville’s Whale.

Sunset and Dusk

Ahab: I wear this burden on my brow.
Starbuck: Madness, madness of my captain.
Ahab: No noble sunrise, but anguish.
Starbuck: I see his doom, but follow him.
Ahab: No soothing sunset, but horrors.
Starbuck: This heathen crew swears pagan oaths.
Ahab: They think me mad to hunt the whale.
Starbuck: To fulfill Ahab’s ghastly will.
Ahab: Who took my leg, Starbuck, my leg!
Starbuck: I must fight this phantom future.
Ahab: My path is fixed in iron hate.

All: A dead whale or a stove boat!
All: A dead whale or a stove boat!

Finding Melville’s Whale: The Quarter-deck (Chapter 36)

Thanks to everyone who stuck around during our blog vacation. Our adventure into Moby Dick continues with chapter 36 – The Quarter-deck. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments. Visit this page for the complete collection to date: Finding Melville’s Whale.

The Quarter-deck

Ahab, standing upon the deck, his leg
locked into an augered hole, asks “ye pull
to what tune?” “A dead whale or a stove boat!”

A dead whale or a stove boat. He withdraws
a gold coin and hammers it to the mast.
“Gold to whomever raises me a white whale!

The whale that took my leg and left me lame!”
And the crew murmurs, for the harpooners
know the beast that Ahab has sworn vengeance.

Leviathan! with a quick and mighty spout,
whose body, marked by a dozen harpoons
is as white as the sea foam – Moby Dick.

And they raise a whaleman’s toast to vengeance.
“Death to the White Whale! Death to Moby Dick!”
And only Starbuck knows it is madness.