The Sea Around Us Essay - Critical Essays

Rachel Carson


The Sea Around Us, written by one of America’s greatest science writers, was intended for a general audience, but it is accessible to children as well as adults. Carson earned a master’s degree in marine zoology from The Johns Hopkins University and worked for many years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She also loved poetry and writing, and this love shows up in her science books in her clear language and a style that makes the reader understand easily and want to learn more. Carson’s writing conveys a respect for the reader as well as an affection for the subject matter. Young readers will not feel as if she is talking down to them and instead will find Carson’s historical and scientific explanations easy to follow.

The Sea Around Us not only informs the reader about the history of the ocean and the variety and complexity of life within it but also makes the reader aware of connections between human beings and the ocean and especially of the dangers of upsetting the ecological balance of oceanic life. In the chapter on islands, for example, Carson explains how human interference with the unique flora and fauna of oceanic islands, such as the Hawaiian Islands, has resulted in the extinction of many species, whose loss she laments.

In her introduction to the revised edition of The Sea Around Us in 1961, Carson also discusses advances in oceanography in the intervening ten years and expresses her growing concern over human threats to the balance of life in the sea, particularly the dangers of nuclear testing in the ocean. This awareness of an endangered ecological balance became the theme of Carson’s most influential work, Silent Spring (1962).