Threats to the Ocean of Life and what must be done to restore it

May 28th, 2012 by Allen Lane

(Please click on the book cover to go to the publisher's website)

In Ocean of Life we get a panoramic tour beneath the seas: Why do currents circulate the way do?

Where exactly do they go? How has the chemistry of the oceans changed? How polluted are we making them?

Above all, Professor Roberts reveals the richness of their life, and how it has altered over the centuries.

However, the oceans are under unprecedented threat. Not only does Professor Roberts show how we are fishing our oceans to extinction, he explains, crucially, how this directly affects our lives on land. The life the oceans support, virtually all life on earth, now lies in the balance.

For the first time ever, Professor Robert has gathered together all the different scientific strands of enquiry into the oceansand brought them together in Ocean of Life.

Professor Callum Roberts speaking at the Marine Biological Association of the UK 125 th anniversary conference in London on 24 September 2009 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

From issues of fertilizer pollution, to increased amounts of plastic in the sea to overfishing and the melting of the polar freshwater icecaps – Roberts has explained and examined how they threaten not only marine life, but also life on land.

But, most importantly, Roberts offers solutions, some of them very simple, that could reverse the damage already done to the oceans.

Earth’s oceans have changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history.

Ocean of Life will galvanise debate worldwide and will show how we can arrest and reverse the damage already done, if governments, industry and the world’s people act now.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said “those of us who worry about the future of our oceans could do a lot worse than take up this single refrain “Listen to Callum Roberts!”.

“Shouted in the ears of the world’s leaders, it might just make a difference. Meanwhile we should all read ‘Ocean of Life’, a thrilling narrative of oceanic natural history and a vital call to action,” he said.

Philip Hoare said “a fascinating book, brilliantly written. Roberts imparts his vast knowledge with a consummate talent for colourful narrative and devastating facts.”

“His book is required reading for anyone who cares about the oceans – not least because, as well as underlining the scale of the problems, he offers us the hope of real solutions,” he said.


For further information please read reviews of this book by The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and the Responding to Climate Change website. The Guardian has published an Ocean Life image gallery by Professor Roberts.


Callum Roberts is Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, where his research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them.

For the last 10 years he has campaigned internationally to show how ocean life, even megafauna, can make a remarkable comeback after protection is granted.

His efforts directly resulted in the creation, in 2010, of the world’s first network of protected high seas, which placed nearly 300,000 km² of the North Atlantic under protection.

Callum has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, was on the WWF-US Council for six years, and is currently WWF-UK Ambassador.

He was consultant to the BBC’s Blue Planet, and on the award-winning documentary, The End of the Line.

His book, The Unnatural History of the Sea, won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Prize, and was one of The Washington Post’s Ten Best Books of 2007.


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