THE SEA AND THE ICE: The Naturalist in Antarctica by Louis J. Halle

THE SEA AND THE ICE: The Naturalist in Antarctica

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Professor Halle, amateur naturalist and political scholar, applies his efficient observations to that shield of ice called Antarctica. In 1969-70 Halle journeyed via an ""Operation Deep Freeze"" icebreaker to the forbidding continent, with the primary purpose of recording the incidence and characteristics of indigenous seabirds. But typically, Halle's enthusiasms -- evolved from what he saw and felt -- are synthesized into a total experience. He discusses the birds -- the albatross-petrel order, the penguins, the Great Skua -- but his narrative weaves in and out among explorations of the movements of ice, water and wind; the peculiar influence of the rotation of the earth, the ""Coriolis effect"" (which so fascinated him that he devotes an appendix to a fuller explanation); seals and whales; and the human experience -- from the Scott expedition to the present sub-ice settlements. He also has a good deal to say about the heroic energy of man and beasts, and deplores the contemporary limp scientific specialist who won't look at a bird because he's not an ornithologist, or bother with ice currents because that's not his field. Halle takes pride in opening himself to the impact of Antarctica, barely containing the ""boy within"" as he tramps around and around the South Pole, where any direction is the same. Halle writes with conviction and spirit, and one cannot gainsay his conclusion: ""Who can say that life, on this sphere lost in space, is not beautiful, heroic and tragic?"" An informative and bracing journey.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1973
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin