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There is a growing crisis in our oceans as rates of infectious disease outbreaks are on the rise. Marine epidemics have the potential to cause a mass die-off of wildlife from the bottom to the top of the food chain, impacting the health of ocean ecosystems as well as lives on land. Ocean outbreaks are a sentinel of an impending global environmental disaster, fueled by sewage dumping, unregulated aquaculture, and drifting plastic in a warming ocean.
Ocean Outbreak follows renowned scientist Drew Harvell and her colleagues as they investigate how four iconic marine animals – corals, abalone, salmon, and starfish – have been devastated by disease. Based on over twenty years of research, this firsthand account of the sometimes creeping, sometimes exploding impact of disease outbreaks on our ocean's biodiversity ends with a hopeful message. Through policy changes and the implementation of innovative solutions from nature, we can reduce major outbreaks, save some ocean ecosystems, and protect our fragile environment.
Drew Harvell is Professor of Marine Ecology at Cornell University. She has published over 170 scientific articles in leading journals and is a fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Her book A Sea of Glass received a National Outdoor Book Award and was recognized as one of the Smithsonian's Best "Art Meets Science" Books of 2016.
"Harvell gives readers an inside look at the diseases that are on the rise beneath the waves [...] in a detailed, engaging narrative."
"Despite the daunting challenge that marine diseases present, Harvell's book manages to inspire both pragmatism and optimism, which likely stems from the immense number of people working alongside Harvell to better understand these issues."
– Forbes Online
"Harvell vividly recounts her work at the front line, studying die-offs such as the past decade's catastrophic starfish crash [...] a succinct summation of two decades of research."
"Harvell skillfully navigates through various outbreaks, breaking down what's happening as well as root causes. And she provides ample hope: oftentimes, by addressing human health issues, we can also help marine creatures."
– Cool Green Science/The Nature Conservancy
" [...] a sobering account of what it happening to our seas [...] This book is a must-read for all who care about the future of our oceans."
– Times Higher Education
" [...] an engaging, eye-opening report on the diseases affecting the health of the ocean [...] Harvell writes from a scientist's perspective, yet her style is down to earth and her prose is accessible. As such, she achieves her essential objective of making the public more aware of the seriousness of the threats that ocean pathogens pose to our food supplies, economies, livelihoods, and health."
– Foreword Reviews
"[Harvell] is a writer with a style that is as captivating as it is informative."
– The Well-Read Naturalist
"Harvell is a skilled science writer and covers the topics with sufficient depth to keep disease aficionados on their toes, marveling at the complexity of diseases in the ocean [...] The narrative is beautifully written and designed to even be consumed by people who know nothing about infectious [marine] diseases or, worse yet, might fear words like "microbe" or "pathogen" the way a 6th grade math phobe would look at his/her first quadratic equation."
– The SeaDoc Society Blog
"We've all heard the oceans are sick, but this book helps explain why through recent histories of four iconic marine animals"
– Society of Environmental Journalists Blog
"Drew Harvell's life changed when she visited her Caribbean field site and discovered dead fan corals everywhere, killed by a new disease no one had ever seen. This inspired a dramatic career change, and Harvell committed to battling diseases in the ocean that kill corals, snails, and sea stars. Part memoir and part science exposé, Ocean Outbreak is a recipe for launching into the unknown, providing a road map showing how one person can marshal the world of science to win against a global peril."
– Steve Palumbi, author of The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change
"A marine medical whodunit, where the patients include sea stars who faced odds worse than humans did during the Black Death. It is also a tale of hope, thanks to the dedication of a small band of scientists, including the author, who work tirelessly to understand and reduce the threats that disease poses to ocean life."
– Nancy Knowlton, author of Citizens of the Sea
"As a marine ecologist specializing in disease, Drew Harvell worries most about the threat posed by microbes, because in oceans beset by so many stresses, disease-causing microbes can gain the upper hand and bring about rapid, wide-scale ecological change. Ocean Outbreak brilliantly lays out the risk of disease and smart plans for improving ocean health."
– Ted Danson actor, activist, and founding board member of Oceana
"From salmon to sea stars, abalone to corals, marine disease pioneer Drew Harvell eloquently captures today's threats to the ocean – and their solutions."
– Jane Lubchenco, Professor, Oregon State University; former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; inaugural U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean
"With riveting storytelling and a chilling sense of urgency, Drew Harvell astutely analyzes the catastrophic outbreaks decimating four kinds of iconic sea creatures with consequences that affect everyone, everywhere. Knowing is the key to caring, and Ocean Outbreak has what it takes to upend complacency and inspire actions to heal the harm humans have imposed on the sea – while there is still time."
– Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and founder of Mission Blue