Review: Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime

How’s this for a love story? In the ocean’s vast depths, a male deep-sea anglerfish searches unflaggingly for “the one.” Upon finding her, be it based on a scent or the allure of her dark, scaleless skin, he’s committed for life, sealing the deal with an eternal kiss that would impress even Romeo: His mouth fuses with his partner’s skin. Such contact sets off a series of self-sacrifices, as most of the male’s internal organs degenerate. The female’s bloodstream becomes his sole nutritional source, and he evolves into a sperm-producing factory for the duration of her life. Oh, and she’s 10 times his size.

Such is undersea life—bizarre, gross, but also mesmerizing. Aside from inspiring wonder, however ocean communiteis—their diverse members and teh way they interact—are also vital to sruvival on land, especially our own. Ellen Prager understands this, having served as chief scientist at Aquairus Reef Base in the Florida Keys, the world's only underwater research station. She also knows that merely preaching "save our seas" won't motivate landlubbers to protect the pygmy seahorse (picture above) and the other organisms that lurk beneath the waves. For us to care, we on terra firma have to be wowed. In Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Ocean's Oddest Creatures, Prager plumbs the depths for strange or marvelous organisms, first wowing us with their weirdness and then reeling us in with their worth—be it culinary, medicinal, biotechnological, or recreational. Her exuberant writing reveals a personal enthrallment with her protagonists. She's the perfect guide for an undersea exploration...

To read more about Prager's marine tales, click here.

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