"The Southern Ocean is a wild and elusive place, an ocean like no
other. With its waters lying between the Antarctic continent and
the southern coastlines of Australia, New Zealand, South America,
and South Africa, it is the most remote and inaccessible part of
the planetary ocean, the only part that flows around Earth
unimpeded by any landmass. It is notorious amongst sailors for its
tempestuous winds and hazardous fog and ice. Yet it is a difficult
ocean to pin down. Its southern boundary, defined by the icy
continent of Antarctica, is constantly moving in a seasonal dance
of freeze and thaw. To the north, its waters meet and mingle with
those of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans along a fluid
boundary that defies the neat lines of a cartographer." So begins
Joy McCann's Wild Sea, the remarkable story of the world's remote
Southern, or Antarctic, Ocean. Unlike the Pacific, Atlantic,
Indian, and Arctic Oceans with their long maritime histories,
little is known about the Southern Ocean. This book takes readers
beyond the familiar heroic narratives of polar exploration to
explore the nature of this stormy circumpolar ocean and its place
in Western and Indigenous histories. Drawing from a vast archive of
charts and maps, sea captains' journals, whalers' log books,
missionaries' correspondence, voyagers' letters, scientific
reports, stories, myths, and her own experiences, McCann embarks on
a voyage of discovery across its surfaces and into its depths,
revealing its distinctive physical and biological processes as well
as the people, species, events, and ideas that have shaped our
perceptions of it. The result is both a global story of changing
scientific knowledge about oceans and their vulnerability to human
actions and a local one, showing how the Southern Ocean has defined
and sustained southern environments and people over time.
Beautifully and powerfully written, Wild Sea will raise a broader
awareness and appreciation of the natural and cultural history of
this little-known ocean and its emerging importance as a barometer
of planetary climate change.
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