BENEATH THE WAVES
Celebrating the Ocean through Pictures, Poems, and Stories
By: Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Published: March 16, 2021
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
On this Earth Day, I couldn’t imagine a better book to share about our fascinating ocean life. Using poetry, short informational paragraphs, and amazing photography, all parts of the ocean are shared for readers to enjoy and learn. Beginning with the beach all the way to the deep ocean floor, all living things that rely on the ocean are explored.
It never fails to surprise me how much I learn from these types of books. The research and photography being done by National Geographic writers and photographers is quite amazing and this compilation of all things related to the ocean is actually quite fascinating.
My favorite place to travel is to the beach. So, I loved reading about the various shells, turtles, crabs, snails, and birds that inhabit the beach. I have never heard of the red crabs that live on Christmas Island in Australia. Every spring, millions of small red crabs scuttle across open areas and down cliffs to make their way to the ocean. Locals even close down roads to make sure the crabs can make it to their destination safely.
There are also some historical facts sprinkled throughout the book. I found “The Myth of Mermaids” interesting. History suggests that mermaid sightings were actually manatee sighting because of their human-sized appearance. Manatees and dugongs have flippers that actually look like arms and have the flat, characteristic mermaid tail. So, people, like Christopher Columbus who wrote about seeing mermaids, could have been easily fooled.
I had heard of pufferfish, but didn’t realize how poisonous they were. Pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin, a deadly substance to humans with enough poison to kill 30 adult humans, with no known antidote. But, what makes these fish even more interesting is that pufferfish are a delicacy in Japan. There the dish is called fugu and chefs need to be trained and licensed to prepare and serve it. One mistake in the preparation could be deadly!
There was so much more that I found fascinating and I could look at the pictures all day. This book is perfect for kids who love learning about animals, love the ocean, or like science. So many amazing creatures live in our oceans and many we will never see. But, just knowing they are there and are critically important to our ecosystem is just so interesting.
The end of the book has a brief section about ocean pollution and also offers a list of all the ocean life mentioned in the book alongside their scientific names. This is a great book for classrooms or homeschooling families to use for a unit studying the ocean.
Stephanie Warren Drimmer writes about science and nature for kids. She is a regular contributor to magazines like National Geographic Kids. Stephanie studied science journalism at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, dog, cat, and five chickens that she raised from teen baby chicks.