Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean (Book Review)

Book Review by Joe Gaydos:

By Jonathan White
Trinity University Press, San Antonio


Jonathan White's book Tides: the science and spirit of the ocean is a must-read for anybody who loves the ocean. Tides govern the ocean yet wait for no one. So why do so few people really understand how they work? Because they're complicated. Tides have both fascinated and confused the likes of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Sir Isaac Newton, just to name a few of the great minds discussed in this easy-to-read, science-come-action adventure book. Despite the complex nature of the subject, White takes the reader on epic journeys around the world exploring big tides and big wave surfing, diving and sailing, shore bird migrations, and even a tidal bore in China that rears to 25 feet "terrorizing everything in its path." The writing is so accomplished and the content so fascinating, it is not surprising that by the time you have followed White's adventures trailing Greg Long surfing Mavericks, dropping below the frozen surface of Ungava Bay to harvest mussels with Inuit Lukasi Nappaaluk, or discussing climate change and sea level rise with Kuna Indians in Panama's San Blas Islands, you're begging for just one more tidally-based adventure with him. What was surprising upon finishing Tides, was realizing that White had done for me what oceanographic textbook after marine biology textbook could not, he taught me to understand the physical workings of tides and helped me to appreciate the legacy that gravity, the moon's elliptical orbit around the earth, and the earth's geology provide for the world's oceans - White taught me the beauty of tides.

Coming next: Gaydos reviews Dr. Drew Harvell's new book, A Sea of Glass: Searching for the Blaschkas' fragile legacy in an ocean at risk