Coral and reef ecologist Hardt dives into the sex lives of sea creatures.
In a fun, lively style, the author explains the sexual antics going on under the waves. She links the science of sex to the sustainability of oceans and emphasizes that creatures’ sex lives are vital for a healthy environment. Just as with humans, finding the right mate takes some searching. Hardt describes the travails faced by creatures having to find a mate in a watery environment, which covers “about 99 percent of the habitable space on the planet.” In a largely informal narrative, the author interweaves pop-culture images and contemporary analogies with scientific facts. Who knew male blue whales are “getting their Barry White on” when they emit deep baritone sounds while searching for a sweetheart? Or that sharks and rays enlist the power of electromagnetism to find the right partner? Or sex in lobster language means “peeing in your lover’s face?” Hardt traces creatures from “dating” to “post climax.” Along the way, the author touches on the importance of penis size, sex-changing clownfish, fish with personal sperm banks, sex triggered by critical mass, and threesomes. Hardt notes how sound pollution, overfishing, and climate change affect the ocean’s creatures, which then impact human food security, shoreline protection, medicines, and sheer enjoyment of the ocean environment. The discussion includes new methods and emerging technologies for further study and possible protection of the ocean and its creatures. The author also includes amusing illustrations, sea sex trivia, and short fictional vignettes such as Fifty Shades of Grunion Run, as well as a list of organizations promoting healthy oceans. Not all readers will appreciate Hardt’s tone, but all will learn plenty.
A watery romp under the waves that will appeal to anyone wanting to broaden their knowledge of our watery planet.