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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 392

As a pioneer in the field of ecology, Rachel Carson played a key role in helping people understand the complex relationships among all parts of the earth's environment. In The Sea Around Us, Carson explores the multiple roles of seas and oceans and of the lands bordering them.

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The Importance of the Oceans in Supporting Life

Two closely related themes in the early chapters are the primordial nature of the oceans in supporting all life and their importance in the development of our species and its predecessors.

The History of Knowledge Concerning Ocean Ecologies

The author explains both the current (as of its 1951 publication) state of knowledge about the ocean's surface and depths as well as some significant earlier phases in understanding these phenomena. While she is primarily concerning with the surface of the oceans, she also includes significant topics about deep-water oceanography and ocean-floor topography. The underwater aspects are emphasized in their roles creating new lands through volcanic activity.

Looking at the surface in relation to the atmosphere, Carson tells us how currents and waves have influenced human activity. The ways that events far out at sea effect life on shore is explored, including such extreme phenomena as tsunamis. On a more routine basis, however, Carson emphasizes, the daily workings of the tides have enabled human subsistence on the shores and contributed to our development of marine resources. The ocean's role in regulating climate onshore is stressed as well.

The last section is especially concerned with human...

(The entire section contains 392 words.)

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Critical Essays