This page has suggestions for good ocean-themed reading. These books are from all genres: non-fiction, thriller/suspense, opinion and more. We’ve included short summaries of each book and at the bottom of the page you’ll find links to everything listed here. Do you have a favorite ocean-themed book? Let us know – we would be happy to add it to this page!
Salmon is a narrative-driven cookbook filled with great recipes, shopping tips, and information on creating a sustainable kitchen. It features numerous “every day” recipes and 10 recipes from celebrity chefs known for their dedication to ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries. It’s the first cookbook in The Sustainable Seafood Kitchen series, so be on the lookout for more!
The ROV Manual, Second Edition: A User Guide for Remotely Operated Vehicles
by Robert D. Christ and Robert L. Wernli Sr
Written by experts in the field of remotely operated vehicle (ROV) research, The ROV Manual provides a complete training and reference guide for the use of ROVs for surveying, inspection, and research purposes. The Second Edition contains nine new chapters with increased coverage of mid-sized ROVs. It is intended for marine and offshore engineers and technicians using ROVs, but can also be used by ROV designers and project managers using ROV technology.
The acclaimed 2009 documentary of the same name was based on this enlightening exposition and critique of the modern fishing industry and its imminent consequences. Those compelled by the film to educate further on the subject will find the abundance of facts and pertinent commentary contained here essential. Highly recommended.
Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea
By Katherine Harmon Courage
It has three hearts, eight arms that basically think for themselves, a brain whose power rivals some mammals and a boneless body capable of squeezing into unimaginably small places. To Courage, these are some of the factors that sparked her intense fascination with the octopus. This journey into all things octo, which is at times travelogue, science essay, art analysis and recipe book, explores these animals through a multitude of lenses, including their historic relationship with mankind and the intriguing science behind their curious behavior. Among many interesting takeaways: despite the fact that they can change their skin color to match their surroundings in a matter of milliseconds, octopuses are colorblind. How can they manage to do this? Find out for yourself.
(Submitted by guest writer Chase Martin)
My Father, the Captain: My Life With Jacques Cousteau
by Jean-Michel Cousteau (with Daniel Paisner)
The life and work of Jacques Cousteau was indispensable to many areas of marine science, conservationism being just one facet of his legacy, and who better than his own son and fellow environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau, to expand on his background and career? This intimate memoir will reveal important, previously unknown details about the seminal figure to those inspired by his work.
The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One
by Sylvia A. Earle
From one of the most important names in modern environmentalism, this illuminating National Geographic publication can function as a guide to many of the major problems currently facing the ocean. Combining hard facts with a wealth of personal experience and compelling commentary, Earle explores the alarming scale and variety of abuses our ocean has suffered over time, the devastating consequences such activities could bring about, but finally, how we might avert a bleak fate. Ideal for those curious on the subject but unsure of where to start, though also highly informative to longtime ocean advocates.
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
by Paul Greenberg
The subjects here are salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna, the fish most commonly consumed around the world. Greenberg makes some of the more unfortunate realities behind their harvesting understandable by focusing on each fish individually, outlining their past, present, and possible futures on the planet given the current rates of consumption and habitat destruction. Becoming an educated consumer is made easy by the book’s readable, engaging style.
American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood
By Paul Greenberg
From the author who brought you Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food comes his second seafood-charged work, American Catch, a deep-dive into the current state of America’s seafood economy. Greenberg’s book uses three popular seafood species, salmon, shrimp and oysters, as detailed case studies of the shift in what was once a thriving domestic market to what has now become a complicated international trade web. Seafood is among the most traded of food commodities in the world, and the United States imports more than 90% of the seafood it consumes, while exporting roughly one-third of its domestic catch. Rather counter-intuitive, no? Pick up a copy of this passionate culinary adventure to discover why it now takes some salmon a trip to China and back before it makes it to your plate.
(Submitted by guest writer Chase Martin)
Sharks: The Animal Answers Guide
by Gene Helfman and George H. Burgess
How big is the biggest shark? How do sharks sleep? How many species of shark are there? Where do they all live? This list of questions about sharks could go on, and on, and on, and now there’s one place to find all the answers: “Sharks: The Animal Answers Guide.” This guide discusses sharks from every perspective, ranging from biology and behavior, to their cultural importance around the world.
Sea World, a three-location marine mammal park in the US, has maintained an esteemed public image as one of the only tourist attractions in the country allowing visitors to observe captive orcas. In spite of this reputation, a multitude of ethical dilemmas regarding the animals’ captivity have risen, which Kirby observes in part by detailing the incident that thrust these dilemmas into the spotlight. Recommended for those who wish to learn more about the arguments against the keeping and training of orcas.
Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans
by Charles Moore (with Cassandra Philips)
Far away from human eyes, an enormous Pacific region grew thick with harmful plastic waste, the titular “chance discovery” arriving when Moore advanced his catamaran through what he describes as a “plastic soup.” Forced to confront the immense destructive power of plastics firsthand, the author, a self-described “citizen scientist,” was inspired to conduct personal research into the nature of the substance we’ve come to rely on so that others might share his revelation: Plastic of any kind is far from harmless, and never does it simply vanish following being dumped. Sure to inspire a strong reaction in any conscientious reader.
Rogue Justice (A Thriller)
by William Neal
This novel uses the real-life issues surrounding orca captivity as a backdrop to deliver a character-driven thriller which quickly takes its premise to the realm of science-fiction. Orca lovers will appreciate the author’s researched knowledge of his subject, although, for many, the book’s swift plot will likely be its biggest draw.
The Extreme Life of the Sea
By Stephen Palumbi and Anthony Palumbi
Marine biologist and Director of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University Stephen Palumbi and his son, Anthony, have teamed up to introduce the reader to some of the ocean’s most extreme habitats and the spectacular creatures that live there. The book is organized into a collection of superlatives “in hopes of igniting a spark of curiosity and passion for what exists beneath the waves.”
The great fish of the sea–marlin, bluefin tuna, and swordfish–are increasingly threatened. Author Matt Rigney travels around the globe to investigate the decline of these once thriving species. He speaks with commercial and recreational fishermen, fish farmers, scientists, and activists, providing the reader with a timely, accurate account of the state of these giants. Thoroughly researched and well written, this book appeals to both fishermen and conservationists.
A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout
by Carl Safina
Conservationist Carl Safina is the author of six books that focus on both the science and the ethics of our relationship with nature. A Sea In Flames provides a vivid account of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Safina deconstructs the series of events that led to the disaster and reviews the consequences. Impassioned and insightful, this book is recommended for anyone wishing to learn more about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
by Wendy Williams
The unique animals comprising the class Cephalopoda are the sole focus of this expansive, fact-rich book. The author’s passion for her subject is contagious as she details the creatures’ astounding attributes and surprising behaviors, even delving into such surrounding topics as the people and institutions that research them, as well as the nature of intelligence.
Have young kids? If you’re looking for a younger perspective on the same topic, be sure to read our review of The Boat House Buddies Deal With the Big Spill. It’s a great 10-book children’s series about a group of kids all affected in some way by the Deepwater Horizon disaster who get together to learn about the spill and the associated environmental impacts.