Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Living Shores by George Branch and Margo Branch

Living Shores by George and Margo Branch is a one-of-a-kind book that deserves a spot in any reference library worth its salt. I’ve always been a bit of a conservationist nut, and for me this beautiful hardcover book was an absolute treat.

The authors start from the bottom up, showing how the many complex systems active in our oceans interact – from the tides and the landmasses, all the way up to the winds, currents and plankton, as well as the life that depends on it. It’s not just the sea out there, but an incredibly complex web of life. While there is a lot of technical and scientific explanations in this book, the overall friendly tone of Living Shores makes it accessible even for those of us who are not actual marine biologists!

While this hefty tome took me a bit longer to read than expected (it’s well and truly packed with information), I came away from the experience feeling as if I’d learnt an incredible amount about southern Africa’s oceans and the life on its shores (at least to make me feel better about the fact that I never did end up pursuing a career in conservation). I have a newfound respect for the people whose lives revolve around research; they most certainly are the often unsung heroes for the environment.

Something else that I realised while reading this book was that we, as a species, are inextricably linked to the wellbeing of the ocean. We have a massive impact on the environment, and therefore it is absolutely vital that we, collectively, take steps to look after the ocean. And yes, the effects of plastic and pollution are almost too awful to consider.

Life in the ocean and along its shores is linked in a delicate balance often thrown way out of kilter by our impact on the environment. Yet nature is resilient and forgiving, so long as we learn from our mistakes. That is the one positive message I ended up with. It is possible for us to use and enjoy the ocean’s resources sustainably. (So it’s not all doom and gloom – there have been some remarkable success stories in terms of conservation.)

Living Shores is a remarkable resource, and one that will have a permanent spot in my collection. This book has highlighted how special our southern oceans are and why it is important for us as a species to understand how we can work with nature instead of against it.

No comments:

Post a Comment