In the whirlwind that is my life this summer, I have not been able read or review The Silent Deep. For a general primer on the deep sea, I often reach for and recommend Gage and Tyler’s Deep-Sea Biology. Since 1992 it has been a bible for our field. However, in the last 15 years major advancements in deep-sea sciences have occurred. Koslow’s book provides somewhat of an update to Deep-Sea Biology but also heads in new direction
The book is divided into three sections, 1. Early History of Deep-Sea Exploration, 2. The Ecology of the Deep Sea, and 3. The Human Footprint Across the Deep Sea. The first section is amazing and provides a comprehensive historical portrait of the field. The final section on conservation is insightful, timely, and enriched from Koslow’s central role in marine conservation. The writing is accessible and the first person accounts throughout the text provide an interesting change from other works. The book appears geared toward an educated public or scientists early in their careers.
Overall I enjoyed the book but have two major criticisms. First the middle section on the ecology of the deep sea is brief and is likely to leave even novices wanting more. Some topics such as oxygen minimum zones, body size, and the evolution of deep-sea faunas are not discussed. Exciting new research on changes of deep-water communities during El Nino evnts, connectivity of benthic communities, temporal succession dynamics, complexity and diversity of bacteria, fungal, and viral communities is also absent. My second issue is that the color plates included as a separate section are poorly designed. The images are stunning but suffer from a lack of coherent unity or proximity that becomes distracting.
Criticism aside the The Silent Deep should prove an enjoyable read for both novices and scientists. Koslow’s novel perspective on field is a welcome, and inexpensive (Amazon: $26.60) addition to my bookshelf.