Citizens of the Sea

Cover of the Book Citizens of the Sea
Order a copy of the book, Citizens of the Sea. (National Geographic)

The incredible variety of marine life—in numbers, body form, behavior, and more—is at the heart of Citizens of the Sea, an irresistible plunge into the surprising world beneath the waves.

Author Nancy Knowlton contributes a fun and reader-friendly text, addressing such topics as the homes, movements, mating, social dynamics, and predation of sea creatures. You’ll discover where unusual names originate; the giant clam, Tridacna gigas, gets "Tridacna" from the Greek, for something so large that three bites are needed to eat it. Spot amazing camouflage strategies that have evolved to promote survival, such as what crabs put on to blend in and how squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish can change their color to match new backgrounds in a matter of seconds. Read about fearsome predators and their weapons of choice, from the shrimp that can break through the glass wall of an aquarium to the long, insidious worm that paralyzes its prey with toxic slime. And peek at the curiosities of sex in the sea, where monogamy is rare and, for some species, a partner is just not an issue.

Hostile Takeovers Photo Spread from Citizens of the Sea

Citizens of the Sea breaks new ground with quick facts and compelling details from the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year global initiative at the cutting edge of what scientists know about life in the ocean. This book features scores of Census photographs, some of which have never before been published. Other images are the work of noted underwater photographers whose expertise you’ve come to expect from National Geographic. All complement the text and do full justice, in gorgeous color and stop-motion immediacy, to the wondrous appearances, actions, and habitats of Citizens of the Sea.

Read blog posts from Dr. Knowlton on the Ocean Portal:
Devoted Dads: From Seahorses to Sea Spiders
Menopausal Moms: A Mammal Mystery
A Pleasant Surprise: The Recovery of Bleached Panamanian Corals
No Fouling Around 
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish 
Do Sharks Smell in Stereo? 
A Tale of Sex and Stress in the Ocean

About the Author:

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a scientific leader of the Census of Marine Life. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego. Knowlton has devoted her life to studying, celebrating, and striving to protect the multitude of life-forms that call the sea home. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

Praise for the Book:

"From Minke whales to Mantis shrimp (and guess which one's more dangerous?) sea dragons to cephalopods Citizens of the Sea is a mind-boggling tour of the salty diversity of life aquatic, turning the science of a decade-long Census of Marine Life into a visual and educational delight.

In this book Dr. Nancy Knowlton, a sea-sunned explorer in her own right, takes us into the 97 percent of our blue planet's living habitat that is salt-water. She does this with an intimacy, knowledge and humor rare among air breathing mammals not named Flipper or Cousteau. Read this book and get to know your neighbors." -- David Helvarg, President, Blue Frontier Campaign and Author of "Saved by the Sea - A Love Story with Fish"


Open Wide Photo Spread from Citizens of the Sea

Inside the Cover:
The book consists of 73 essays organized into 14 chapters:
Names and Numbers (what, how big & how many)
Appearances are Everything (the conspicuous, near invisible & weird)
Sense and Sensibilities (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching & thinking)
Ocean Locomotion (flying, swimming, diving & hitchhiking)
Settling Down & Growing Up (finding a home, getting big & getting old)
There’s No Place Like Home (hot & cold, pressure & parasites)
Sea Food (meat eaters, vegetarians, scavengers & farmers)
Best Friends (roommates, cleaners & competitive cooperators)
The More the Merrier (schooling to eat & avoid being eaten)
Sex & the Sea (finding a mate & raising a brood)
Deep Time (arms races, living fossils & returning to the sea)
Dangerous Encounters (predators & poisoners)
For What It’s Worth (megabucks, medicines & free labor)
Bad News, Good News (gone, going & coming back)

July 2010