book report on 4 books
1) The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, by Dr. Stephen R Palumbi PhD and Ms. Carolyn Sotka
M.A. – From Amazon.com: “Anyone who has ever stood on the shores of Monterey Bay,
watching the rolling ocean waves and frolicking otters, knows it is a unique place. But even
residents on this idyllic California coast may not realize its full history. Monterey began as a
natural paradise but became the poster child for industrial devastation in John Steinbeck’s
Cannery Row and is now one of the most celebrated shorelines in the world. It is a
remarkable story of life, death, and revival—told here for the first time in all its stunning
color and bleak grays. The Death and Life of Monterey Bay begins in the eighteenth century
when Spanish and French explorers encountered a rocky shoreline brimming with life—
raucous sea birds, abundant sea otters, barking sea lions, halibut the size of wagon wheels,
waters thick with whales. A century and a half later, many of the sea creatures had
disappeared, replaced by sardine canneries that sickened residents with their stench but kept
the money flowing. When the fish ran out and the climate turned, the factories emptied and
the community crumbled. But today, both Monterey’s economy and wildlife are resplendent.
How did it happen? The answer is deceptively simple: through the extraordinary acts of
ordinary people. The Death and Life of Monterey Bay is the biography of a place, but also of
the residents who reclaimed it.”
2) “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean”, by Susan Casey.
Description From Publishers Weekly: “Casey travels across the world and into the past to
confront the largest waves the oceans have to offer. This dangerous water includes rogue
waves south of Africa, storm-born giants near Hawaii, and the biggest wave ever recorded, a
1,740 foot-high wall of wave (taller than one and a third Empire State Buildings) that blasted
the Alaska coastline in 1958. Casey follows big-wave surfers in their often suicidal attempts
to tackle monsters made of H2O, and also interviews scientists exploring the danger that
global warning will bring us more and larger waves. Casey writes compellingly of the threat
and beauty of the ocean at its most dangerous. We get vivid historical reconstructions and her
firsthand account of being on a jet-ski watching surfers risk their lives. Casey also smoothly
translates the science of her subject into engaging prose. This book will fascinate anyone
who has even the slightest interest in the oceans that surround us.”
3) The Devil’s Teeth : A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White
Sharks by Susan Casey. From Amazon.com: “In a post-Jaws/Discovery Channel world,
unearthing fresh data on great white sharks is a feat. So credit Susan Casey not just with
finding and spotlighting two biologists who have done truly pioneering field research on the
beasts but also with following them and their subjects into the heart of one of the most
unnatural habitats on Earth: the Farallon Islands. Throughout The Devil’s Teeth, Casey
makes clear that year upon year of observing the sharks have (led to) insights into shark
behavior that are entirely new and too numerous to list. Despite the plethora of factoids on
offer, Casey’s style is consistently digestible and very amusing.” Please note that this book
contains some explicit language that may be offensive to some readers.
4) The World is Blue: How Our Fates and the Ocean’s Are One by Dr. Sylvia A. Earle. From
Amazon.com: “This book tie-in to National Geographic’s ambitious 5-year ocean initiative—
focusing on overfishing—is written in National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia
Earle’s accessible yet hard-hitting voice. Through compelling personal stories she puts the
current and future peril of the ocean and the life it supports in perspective for a wide public
Description of the “Reading Diary” assignment: You have most of the semester to complete
this assignment as it is due by 11:00pm on Friday, May 15th. No extensions will be granted.
My recommendation for completing the assignment is this: After each reading session, be it a
few pages or a chapter or two, write a page or two about what you have just read. This writing
should include enough summary information that I can tell you read thoroughly. Include details
about the story, plot, characters, discoveries, species, etc., etc. In additional to this summary
information, write about your thoughts regarding the reading. What did you think about the
writing, plot, characters, happenings, discoveries, species, places visited, descriptions, etc. There is no wrong answer to this part of the assignment! Just tell me what you liked or disliked, what you found to be memorable, disturbing, interesting (or not). To get the most out of this
assignment, try to “interact” with the book. For example, if you come across a species name that
you don’t know (there will likely be some), search for it or find a picture of it online. Follow the
journeys on the maps provided in the books. Consider how your reading relates to what we’re
studying in class. Most successful (full credit) assignments are at least 10-15 pages long and are approximately 50% summary information and 50% “critique/interaction”.
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