Well-designed digital bells and whistles boost Johnson's already first-rate print dive past marine biology's frontiers (2010) to the next level.
Paired to quick glimpses of scientists engaged in the worldwide, decade-long Census of Marine Life, the select array of newly-identified copepods, jellyfish, sea cucumbers, "squidworms" and other exotic denizens of both shallows and deeps look even more eldritch and alien on the screen. The author's second-person address places readers directly into the adventure: "Scrunched inside a submersible that has just passed 1,476 feet (450 meters), you’re descending through a dark world few people have seen." Two videos (one a lively intro by the author, the other more than six minutes long, which accounts for the app's unusual size) and slide shows join a great array of large, sharply detailed photos—many of which are eye widening close-ups. Photo captions have been moved behind tappable icons to give the pages a spacious look, and the chapters are "stacked" to make both horizontal and vertical navigation positively pleasurable. Live links to web sites and online articles punctuate the closing resource lists.
A fascinating step-by-step descent into the still largely unexplored "living minestrone" in which our planet is enfolded, with special features that enhance rather than distract. (iPad informational app. 10-13)