178 pages, colour photos
The most fascinating aspects of coral reefs relate to how corals and reef residents meet the challenges of survival and live together. The focus of this book – Coral Reefs: Cities Under the Sea – is on how a coral reef functions – the jobs of individual residents and how they collectively create a sustainable community. The author explores how solar energy powers the reef, how raw materials are used efficiently and waste is recycled, why biodiversity is security, and how everything is connected.
There are also many insights into the more personal lives of reef residents – some are as strange as any science fiction. By viewing coral reefs in the context of a human city, one can more easily appreciate the creative ways reef communities operate; they neither undermine their own survival nor that of other communities elsewhere. In other words, a variety of species collectively enhances the survival of the entire community.
Dr Murphy sees reef communities existing in a dynamic equilibrium where forces of competition, destruction, and decay are balanced by co-operation, repair, and rejuvenation. There are lessons for those of us who are concerned about making our own communities more sustainable. The subject matter is serious, but it is not taken so seriously that it isn't fun. The most fascinating aspects of coral reefs relate to how corals and reef residents meet the challenges of survival and live together.
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Richard C Murphy PhD is a marine biologist, educator, writer, and photographer. His association with Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, began in 1968. As chief scientist and expedition researcher, he has worked in some of the most remote regions of the world studying how ecosystems function and how humans interact with the natural system. Dr Murphy is Vice President of Science and Education for Ocean Futures Society. His focus is sustainable development and ecotourism in developing countries and the creation of environmental educational programs for young people.