Roberts’s memoir is a rich and loving ode to the sea, to coral reefs and to science itself ... he not only describes with great beauty the reefs he visited and studied, he also lets readers see his evolution as a scientist ... He frequently tells us that science requires patience and that strides in knowledge are incremental and slow. There’s an honesty to this. He admits that even in places of great splendor, there is repetition and banality ... You don’t have to appreciate his science or his suffering to appreciate Roberts, though. When he describes life below, you are truly swept away ... Roberts’s rich language will call to you.
Reef Life is a vibrant memoir of the joys, as well as the grind, of a research career beginning in the 1980s that has spanned a golden age of coral reef science. It is also a fine introduction to the ecology of reefs and the existential threats they now face ... Roberts revels in the details of life on a coral reef ... Roberts is a humorous, determined expert ... It is poignant to read this ... Roberts, with his irrepressible warmth and passion, concludes: 'Now is the time for action, not mourning. There is everything to play for.'
... it is the many passages that celebrate the profound beauty and biodiversity of coral reefs that make the most compelling argument for change ... Roberts has a gift for capturing the personalities and characteristics of the creatures he encounters ... Roberts writes beautifully of the experience of descending into the depths ... Reef Life is the account of a career, but at times it also feels like a love letter—or a farewell—to an ecosystem that is vanishing fast.