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The Brilliant Abyss Reviews

The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales

The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed

Helen Scales

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Bloomsbury Sigma
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781472966865
5 stars out of 5
Steven Poole
13 Mar 2021

"Scales’s plea to leave the deep alone is a persuasive and edifying one. "

Scales’s enthusiasm for her subject is matched by a gift for visual evocation, often disgusting. (“Picture,” she commands the reader, “a close relative of the woodlouse that hides under rocks or garden pots, but pale pink and the size of a rugby ball.” I’d rather not.) She is very good on the sublimely mountainous topography of the seabed, and the unimaginable forces that operate on its denizens. Once you are at a depth of 8km, she explains, where snailfish can live, the pressure exerted by all that seawater above is equivalent to “an elephant standing on every few square centimetres of your body”. Down there too we find scavenging crustaceans called amphipods: “They are supremely unfussy eaters and will devour anything that falls into a trench.” Like Michael Gove, they are hearty trenchermen indeed.