Underwater Eden | Phoenix Islands Protected Area

"It was the first time I'd seen what the ocean may have looked like thousands of years ago." That's conservation scientist Gregory S. Stone talking about his initial dive among the corals and sea life surrounding the Phoenix Islands in the South Pacific. Worldwide, the oceans are suffering. Corals are dying off at an alarming rate, victims of ocean warming and acidification — and their loss threatens more than 25 percent of all fish species, who depend on the food and shelter found in coral habitats. Yet in the waters off the Phoenix Islands, the corals were healthy, the fish populations pristine and abundant — and Stone and his companion on the dive, coral expert David Obura, determined that they were going to try their best to keep it that way.

Underwater Eden tells the story of how they succeeded, against great odds, in making that dream come true, with the establishment in 2008 of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA). It's a story of cutting-edge science, fierce commitment, and innovative partnerships rooted in a determination to find common ground among conservationists, business interests, and governments — all backed up by hard-headed economic analysis.

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel — "From the air, the Phoenix Islands are tiny, low, remote, easily overlooked scraps of land in the Pacific Ocean. Underwater, they are the ocean's equivalent of Amazon rainforests, teeming with tropical corals, fish, and sharks. But those species are under increasing assault from fishing boats, climate change, and introduced species. This remarkable book tells the story of ongoing imaginative efforts to create a huge protected area in a biological treasure-house."

Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View from Lazy Point — "Underwater Eden tells the story of how a very small group of exceptionally passionate people can — and did — accomplish something truly spectacular. They worked for years to protect the last virgin chain of unexplored coral reef islands in the world. It's a story of tremendous vision and dedication. And success."

 

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Phoenix Islands     Marine; Ocean; Protected areas