The Sea Around Us

by Rachel Carson

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Characters in The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson include the scientists who help mankind better understand the sea.

Carson writes about Thor Heyerdahl, an ethnologist from Norway who traveled across the Pacific Ocean on a raft to test whether it was possible for the original Polynesians to have come there on a raft from South America. He, along with five others, was able to see how the ocean moves and the kind of life that's at the surface of it. When Carson interviewed him, he talked about flying fish and phosphorescent creatures. Heyerdahl discusses the plants and animals that they were able to see during their trip.

A. E. Parr of the American Museum is referenced by Carson in a discussion of how long plants live. They said that it's possible that they might even live for centuries, depending on their species and environment, when discussing the weeds of the Sargasso Sea. According to Parr, there are an estimated 10 million tons of weeds.

Martin Johnson, a marine biologist associated with the Scripps Institute, was on a vessel when he realized that echoes in a layer below the ocean were near the surface at night but deeper during the day. This helped them understand that the reflections and echoes were coming from a layer of living creatures rather than something inanimate.

Thomas Stevenson was a man from Scotland and the first person who ever measured the force of an ocean wave. He created something called a wave dynamometer.

Hans Ahlmann is a glaciologist. He says that most glaciers in Norway only live on their own mass without getting any new snow every year. In the Alps, they've been retreating and shrinking. Carson says that in the summer of 1947, this happened to a devastating degree. She cites his work as evidence that the world is growing warmer.

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