The Deep

The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian is perhaps the most stunning book to grace this planet.  Such praise seems superfluous until one views the cover-to-cover photographs of stunning deep-sea creatures that form the core of this hardback.  The volume is 12×10 inches and the high-resolution photographs on superb glossy paper are equally large.   Many of the photographs extend across adjacent pages.  The images cover pelagic, benthic, vent, seep, whale fall, invertebrate, and vertebrate organisms.  The reader will be hard pressed to find a neglected group.  The author notes that over 5,000 images were gathered before less than 200 with “sufficient definition” were chosen.  The images are so magnificent they rival my time spent in submersibles and in front of high-definition video feeds from ROV’s. To borrow from Sylvia Earle’s review of The Deep, “Even for those of us who have been enchanted by the wondrous life of the deep sea through direct engagement, this books renews the spirit and makes it possible to share with others a vicarious glimpse of the wild ocean.”

Dispersed amongst the photographs are insightful essays by some of the world’s leading deep-sea experts on exploration, midwater life, bioluminescence, polar depths, Monterey canyon, etc.  The essays are 2-3 pages and are an adequate length to discuss the topic without being tedious.  

Aspiring authors of deep-sea volumes will struggle to equal Nouvian in this medium.  The University of Chicago Press was gracious enough to supply a complimentary copy for review at DSN.  I cannot articulate my surprise at finding that you can purchase a copy at Amazon for less than $30 with free shipping.  So go order this book now even if it means you will go without food tonight.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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