One interesting way to study geography is by habitats. Dr. George Hartwig wrote about several geographical worlds including the subterranean world, the tropical world, and the polar world. He also covered The Sea and Its Living Wonders — a free eBook that explores the world of water.
For years my daily walks have been upon the beach, and I have learnt to love the ocean as the Swiss mountaineer loves his native Alps, or the Highlander the heath-covered hills of Caledonia. May these feelings have imparted some warmth to the following pages, and serve to render the reader more indulgent to their faults!
Subtitled A Popular Account of the Marvels of the Deep and of the Progress of Maritime Discovery from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time, the book was originally published in 1860; this revised version in 1873.
The author obviously writes with a love for his subject. He begins with a look at the extent of water on the earth.
A single glance over the map shows us at once how very unequally water and land are distributed. In one part we see continents and islands closely grouped together, while in another the sea widely spreads in one unbroken plain; here vast peninsulas stretch far away into the domains of ocean, while there immense gulfs plunge deeply into the bosom of the land. At first sight it might appear as if blind chance had presided over this distribution, but a nearer view convinces us that providential laws have established the existing relations between the solid and fluid surfaces of the earth. If the sea had been much smaller, or if the greatest mass of land had been concentrated in the tropical zone, all the meteorological phenomena on which the existence of actual organic life depends would have been so different, that it is doubtful whether man could then have existed, and certain that, under those altered circumstances, he never would have attained his present state of civilisation. The dependence of our intellectual development upon the existing configuration of the earth, convinces us that Divine wisdom and not chaotic anarchy has from all eternity presided over the destinies of our planet.
He attempts to answer questions such as:
- How deep is the sea?
- What are the boundaries of the ocean?
- What elements is the ocean made of?
- What are the temperatures of the ocean?
- What are the differences between fresh water and salt water?
- What give the oceans and seas their color?
And this is all in the first chapter!
Other topics covered include:
- Marine plants.
There are also five chapters devoted to “Maritime Discovery” that cover explorers from the Phoenicians to more “modern” journeys to the North Pole!
Quite a book.The book covers a great deal of information, but in a very interesting way. Extensively illustrated. A very complete index will help you find specific topics. Truly a living book!
The Sea and Its Living Wonders is very accessible and would make a great family read aloud.
Suggestions for use:
- Break the chapters up into smaller readings. The author has really done this for you.
- Follow each reading with narrations.
- Pursue the rabbit trails that each reading naturally encourages.
- Create a Sea Notebook.
- Include the many illustrations from the book.
The Sea and Its Living Wonders
Paperback version prepared by the University of Michigan for those interested.