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Reef Life is the story of how Callum Roberts, Britain's pre-eminent marine conservation scientist, fell in love with coral reefs and embarked on a thirty-year career. He began as a young university student who had never been abroad, spending a summer helping to map the unknown reefs of Saudi Arabia. And from that moment, when Callum first cleared his mask, he's never looked back, moving on to survey Sharm El Sheikh, and from there diving and researching all over the world, including Australia's imperilled Great Barrier Reef and the more resilient reefs of the Caribbean.
His stories are astonishing, lyrical and laced with a wonderful wry humour – and they allow us privileged access to, and understanding of, the science of our oceans and reefs. Reading this book will also commit readers to support Callum's goal to get marine reserve status for ten per cent of the world's ocean.
Professor of Marine Conservation at York University, Callum Roberts is one of the world's leading oceanographers. He was the Chief Scientific Advisor on Blue Planet II and writes regularly on marine issues for the Guardian. He is the author of two award-winning books, The Unnatural History of the Sea (Rachel Carson Award, 2007) and Ocean of Life (Mountbatten Award, 2013).
"This 'underwater memoir' takes readers on a fascinating journey from Roberts' first-ever dive mapping unknown reefs in Saudi Arabia to his present career as a professor of marine conservation and one of the world's leading oceanographers. [...] Reef Life includes stunning imagery, some provided by award-winning marine photographer Alex Mustard MBE, and the depth of description allows the reader to feel as though they are there with Roberts observing the fascinating organisms. [...]"
– Emma Wrake, The Biologist 67(1), Feb/Mar 2020
"A ravishing, alarming account of these underwater palaces of wonder, and the existential threat they face from humanity and our warming climate [...] The chief pleasure of this book is Roberts's rich descriptive power. He was an adviser for Blue Planet II, and his writing does more than justice to those stunning films. Nature's throne rooms are thrown open by Roberts's prose."
– Colin Greenwood, The Spectator 2019-12-14
"Reef Life is a vibrant memoir of the joys, as well as the grind, of a research career beginning in the 1980s that has spanned a golden age of coral reef science. It is also a fine introduction to the ecology of reefs and the existential threats they now face."
– Caspar Henderson, The Guardian 2019-11-16
"Compulsory reading for scuba divers and armchair divers alike"
– BBC Wildlife
"Part odyssey, part 'Reef Ecology 101', Roberts' witty and vivid descriptions of the underwater world are meshed with the most up-to-date findings, which suggest that "reefs cannot be climate-proofed and they can't hide from climate change"
– Boris Worm, Nature