Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease (Hardcover)

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There is a growing crisis in our oceans as rates of infectious disease outbreaks are on the rise. Marine epidemics have the potential to cause a mass die-off of wildlife from the bottom to the top of the food chain, impacting the health of ocean ecosystems as well as lives on land. Fueled by sewage dumping, unregulated aquaculture, and drifting plastic in warming seas, ocean outbreaks are sentinels of impending global environmental disaster.
Ocean Outbreak follows renowned scientist Drew Harvell and her colleagues as they investigate how four iconic marine animals—corals, abalone, salmon, and starfish—have been devastated by disease. Based on over twenty years of research, this firsthand account of the sometimes creeping, sometimes exploding impact of disease on our ocean’s biodiversity ends with a hopeful message. Through policy changes and the implementation of innovative solutions from nature, we can reduce major outbreaks, save some ocean ecosystems, and protect our fragile environment.  


About the Author

Drew Harvell is Professor of Marine Ecology at Cornell University. She has published over 170 scientific articles in leading journals and is a fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Her book A Sea of Glass received a National Outdoor Book Award and was recognized as one of the Smithsonian's Best “Art Meets Science” Books of 2016.

Praise For…

"Harvell gives readers an inside look at the diseases that are on the rise beneath the waves....in a detailed, engaging narrative."

— Smithsonian

"Despite the daunting challenge that marine diseases present, Harvell's book manages to inspire both pragmatism and optimism, which likely stems from the immense number of people working alongside Harvell to better understand these issues."

— Forbes Online

"Coral bleaching has become something of an everyday apocalypse. Researched, documented and foretold, it is a biotic meltdown to which we have become all too accustomed. But the seas hold other more insidious disasters, as much our fault as the heating of the oceans. They tend, though, to be less covered by the media, which is why Ocean Outbreak is such an important book. . . .[Harvell] does a first-rate job of inspiring readers, and of providing the right kind of proselytising to turn marine epidemiology into a go-to career for a new and concerned generation."

— New Scientist

"Harvell vividly recounts her work at the front line, studying die-offs such as the past decade’s catastrophic starfish crash. . . . a succinct summation of two decades of research."

— Nature

"...a sobering account of what it happening to our seas. . . .This book is a must-read for all who care about the future of our oceans."

— Times Higher Education

“The book is written in a way that science-interested members of the public, and policymakers, will find useful—but students and researchers in marine science, yearning to understand more about marine disease outbreaks, will gain just as much. Harvell beautifully articulates the urgent need for scientists and non-scientists alike to do more to understand and protect the ocean.”

— Oceanography

"Harvell skillfully navigates through various outbreaks, breaking down what’s happening as well as root causes. And she provides ample hope: oftentimes, by addressing human health issues, we can also help marine creatures."

— Cool Green Science/The Nature Conservancy

" ,,,an engaging, eye-opening report on the diseases affecting the health of the ocean...Harvell writes from a scientist’s perspective, yet her style is down to earth and her prose is accessible. As such, she achieves her essential objective of making the public “more aware of the seriousness of the threats that ocean pathogens pose to our food supplies, economies, livelihoods, and health.” 

— Foreword Reviews

"This well-written narrative can benefit a wide range of audiences. It provides insights not only into marine diseases but also into the constraints and practices of scientists responding to environmental threats."


"This book is written with the intent to encourage development of policies to prevent and limit the spread of future outbreaks by not only educating policymakers, but engaging a broader audience. Harvell makes a plea for action, citing the need for surveillance of farmed species like salmon, shrimp, oysters, and abalone, where disease outbreaks also pose threats for wild populations."

— Fisheries

"Harvell is a skilled science writer and covers the topics with sufficient depth to keep disease aficionados on their toes, marveling at the complexity of diseases in the ocean. . . .The narrative is beautifully written and designed to even be consumed by people who know nothing about infectious [marine] diseases or, worse yet, might fear words like “microbe” or “pathogen” the way a 6th grade math phobe would look at his/her first quadratic equation."

— The SeaDoc Society Blog

"We’ve all heard the oceans are sick, but this book helps explain why through recent histories of four iconic marine animals”

— Society of Environmental Journalists Blog

"[Harvell] is a writer with a style that is as captivating as it is informative."

— The Well-Read Naturalist

"This book is written with the intent to encourage development of policies to prevent and limit the spread of future outbreaks by not only educating policymakers, but engaging a broader audience."

— Fisheries
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520296978
ISBN-10: 0520296974
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: April 16th, 2019
Pages: 232