by Mathilde Vaudon-Marie, Le Cherche Midi, 160 p., € 29.50
A zone of life, exchanges and adventures, the oceans are also places of science. In this richly illustrated and beautifully laid out book, journalist Mathilde Vaudon-Marie retraces the history of oceanographic research.
From the Greek Pythéas who explored the Atlantic in the IVe century before Jesus Christ with the recent Argos beacons, the reader discovers the men and the technologies which push always further our knowledge on the waters of the globe. With a dive far below the surface, in the abyss that remains even less well known than the space above our heads. But also, precisely, from space, where satellites watch for the upheavals at work.
Because if the sea is world, the sea rises. Between loss of biodiversity and global warming, the waters of the globe are the sentinels and victims of change. From the effects of overfishing to the infamous coral bleaching, the second part focuses on these environmental issues.
Their surveillance is all the more important given that half of the world’s population lives on the coasts. Not to mention that the oceans directly support 3.5 billion people. Thanks to its photosynthesis, phytoplankton alone ensure that one in two humans can breathe.
As the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt summed it up: “ The sea contains within it an exuberance of life that no other region of the globe could give the idea of.. An exuberance to be preserved, as the United Nations decade for ocean sciences begins.