A marine biologist explores the extraordinary ecosystem of the deep ocean—a realm about which we know less than we do about the Moon—and shows how protecting rather than exploiting it will benefit mankind.
... the book’s purview is technically all of history, but the incredible paucity of interaction people have had with the deep sea means that most of the information here takes the form of news delivered as a dire, last-minute warning ... a manifesto for change as much as it is a description of an ecological crisis. Its overall effect is not to clarify the waters—to create something as bright and blue as a Cameron scene—but to insist that what’s already down there matters, even or especially when it is hidden from our view.
... it’s so comprehensive and insightful that it will be a long time before it’s surpassed ... In the first half of her book, Scales does an excellent job of animating the almost unbelievable panoply of life in the deep. As an explorer herself, she has seen things first-hand that few others will ever witness. But it is the second part of her book, devoted to the human impacts on the abyss, which brought gasps to my throat ... It is hard to imagine a more timely or important book than The Brilliant Abyss. Carefully conceived and luminously written, it is certain to be a bestseller, which gives me hope that its urgent message might help save the world.
... an enjoyable and accessible introduction to the deep sea, told with a passion that I found infectious. The stories of life’s struggle for survival beneath the waves are compelling and Scales is particularly evocative when describing hydrothermal vents. I would have liked to read more about bioluminescence and the creatures that use it to dazzle predators and prey alike, however, and the book can become lost in detail when it leaves the deep, such as a pages-long digression about batteries. Overall, though, Scales brings to life this important part of our planet. What happens there is something we should all be concerned about.