Starred review from March 27, 2006
This delightfully wry account of a lifetime enchanted by the sea should enshrine marine biologist Norton in the pantheon of sea-struck pioneers he brilliantly profiled in his earlier Stars Beneath the Sea
. Norton details a love affair that began in his hometown of Whitley Bay, a fading English resort town, where he one day dove into the water and discovered a "fresh and alive sea" that was "everything that the land wasn't." Though he'd been a less-than-average student, his newfound love propelled him to undergraduate and graduate work and then to a life full of oceanographic adventures from the Canary Islands to Sweden and Yemen. Whether discussing the sea lions of Southern California or the coral gardens of Sharm el Sheikh, Norton writes in a charming, tongue-in-cheek style. He is equally adept at elucidating the politics behind the pollution he finds in places such as the Philippines—where fishermen have been allowed to dynamite and poison coral reefs—as he is at illuminating the beauty of what others might consider odd, such as the "magical properties" of slime as used by the limpets off the Isle of Man.