You are here:    »  »  » Book review for "Sea Sick" by Alanna Mitchell

Book review for "Sea Sick" by Alanna Mitchell

Sea Sick - The Global Ocean in Crisis #

March 3, 2009
written by Toni Houston

Sea Sick is the first book to examine the current state of the world’s ocean system, and the dire impact of humankind.

Human activity is altering the ocean in every way, from temperature to salinity, from acidity to circulation. Each of these changes not only drastically affects the marine world, but more alarming has dire consequences for all life on earth.

This is where the planet's most serious ecological crisis is unfolding, and unfolding fast - in the Oceans.

Author Alanna Mitchell joins the crews of leading scientists in nine of the global ocean’s hotspots to see firsthand what is really happening around the world. Whether it’s the impact of coral reef bleaching, the puzzle of the oxygen-less dead zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico, or the shocking implications of the changing pH balance of the sea, Mitchell explains the science behind the story to create an engaging, accessible yet authoritative account.

Like countless scientists around the world, her research produces an alarming prognosis for the health of our planet, and reveals that we are at a critical 'tipping point'.

Alanna Mitchell writes:

“When I think of the planet, I think of it as a body with some serious health problems. The evidence is that the chemical levels of its ocean-blood are changing and that is affecting such things as pH, metabolism, fecundity and ability to thrive. In a growing number of places, the very oxygen content of the ocean is trailing off. These are vital signs, and they are telling us that the planet is in distress. The planet is slipping into a biological and evolutionary unconsciousness. A point of no return. A switch.”

Sea Sick reveals that this 'switch' is already underway, deep beneath the waves. And that has dire consequences for us all. For all life on earth depends on the ocean for two critical things:

  • Oxygen: Over 70% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton in the sea. These humble, one-celled organisms, rather than the spectacular rain forests, are the true lungs of the planet. See example photographs of plankton below.
  • Climate control: Our climate is regulated by the ocean’s currents, winds, and water-cycle activity.

Sea Sick is not only a chronicle of the ocean's health, but a vital examination of the fate of our entire planet. It's a book to be read, reread, and shared by all.

What people say about Sea Sick:

“A riveting book of revelations about Earth's largest and most important habitat.”
          - Tim Flannery, author of The Weathermakers

“Each chapter in the book blends lucid, factual explanation of complex subjects with engaging chronicles of the author’s travels to far-flung parts of the globe.”
          - Quill & Quire

“Sea Sick is the most comprehensive book to date on the state of our oceans. With a writer’s eye for detail and a reporter’s expertise in pulling in disparate information, Mitchell has woven a powerful and deeply unsettling story about our collective abuse of the cradle of all life. Fortunately, she also gives us hope and a path forward if we have the wisdom to act.”
          - Maude Barlow

Keeping the ocean's life switch turned on will require all of us to, like Mitchell, choose hope and to do something about it. Reading this book is a good first step.
          - Montreal Gazette

About the author: Alanna Mitchell was the science and environment reporter at the Globe and Mail for fourteen years, until she left daily journalism to devote herself to writing on science. In 2000, she was named the best environmental reporter in the world by the Reuters Foundation and was invited in 2002 to undertake a guest fellowship at Oxford University. Out of this came her first book, Dancing at the Dead Sea, published in 2004. Mitchell is an associate at the International Institute for Sustainable Development and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on environmental issues. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

Sea Sick is published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart. For more information visit their website

  • Plankton image 01
  • Plankton image 02
  • Plankton image 03

Other Book:

Coral Reefs and Climate Change: the guide for education and awareness

← Back to News Archive  |  Top ↑


  Coral Sea Dreaming

In the News

Extended Production Capabilities

May 17, 2015
Network partners David Hannan, Pete West and their companies are joining forces offering high-end image capabilities

Coral: Rekindling Venus astounds audiences

21 May, 2013
Created and directed by Australian media artist Lynette Wallworth with principal photography by David Hannan, Coral: Rekindling Venus is an immersive Full Dome format film experience.

Exploring Coral Reefs, Climate Change & Carbon Dioxide - New Classroom Resources Available

May 16, 2011
Coral Reefs are rich, sensitive ecosystems vital to the survival of one-quarter of all sea life and the economies of many countries. But what are corals really, how do they function and why are they now threatened by rising sea temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Ocean Ark Alliance - Visit the Website

OAA’s mission is to create a deeper appreciation of some of the most wondrous, yet fragile, ecosystems on our planet.

picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1 picture1