Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs

Riverhead. Apr. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780593087305. $26. NAT HIST
Marine biologist and science writer Berwald (Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone) shares her love for oceans in this book exploring the fate of coral reefs in a warming climate. Berwald explains that coral has a symbiotic relationship with algae, which, through photosynthesis, supplies the coral with most of its sugar for energy, while coral protects the algae within its tissues. The warming oceans have led to extensive coral bleaching, leaving behind dead zones where the coral once protected other sea life. Berwald travels around the world, dives to study the reefs, and interviews the scientists who are leading valiant efforts to save coral reefs in Indonesia (including Sulawesi and Bali), the Dominican Republic, Australia, and Florida, as well as in her own backyard of Galveston, TX. These efforts include coral nurseries (where baby corals are nurtured before being planted on scaffolding in the ocean) and seeding clouds with sea spray to brighten them and reflect heat away from the reefs. Entwined with the story of saving coral is Berwald’s engrossing personal history, which includes her daughter’s battle with mental illness.
VERDICT A good option for readers interested in climate change and marine biology.
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