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Nature Oceans & Seas

The Imperilled Ocean

Human Stories from a Changing Sea

by (author) Laura Trethewey

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Feb 2020
Oceans & Seas, Ecology, Environmental Conservation & Protection, Human Geography, Essays
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2020
    List Price

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A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2020
A Writers' Trust of Canada Best Book of the Year
CBC Books: The Best Canadian Nonfiction Selection
A Hill Times Top 100 Selection (2020)
Silver Medal, Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards

An exploration of the earth's last wild frontier, filled with high-stakes stories of people and places facing an uncertain future.

On a life raft in the Mediterranean, a teenager from Ghana wonders whether he will reach Europe alive, and whether he will be allowed to stay. In the North Atlantic, a young chef disappears from a cruise ship, leaving a mystery for his friends and family to solve. A water-squatting community battles eviction from a harbour in British Columbia, raising the question of who owns the water.

The Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey is a deeply reported work of narrative journalism that follows people as they head out to sea. What they discover holds inspiring and dire implications for the life of the ocean — and for all of us back on land. Battles are fought, fortunes made, lives lost, and the ocean approaches an uncertain future. Behind this human drama, the ocean is growing ever more unstable, threatening to upend life on land.

About the author

Laura Trethewey is an ocean journalist whose writing has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Courier International, the Walrus, Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and at, the multimedia storytelling site of the Vancouver Aquarium. The Imperilled Ocean is her first book.

Laura Trethewey's profile page


  • Unknown, Silver Medal, <i>Miramichi Reader</i>'s "The Very Best!" Book Awards
  • Unknown, One of the <i>Globe and Mail</i>'s 100 Favourite Books of 2020
  • Unknown, A <i>Hill Times</i> Top 100 Selection
  • Unknown, A <i>Globe and Mail</i> Best Book
  • Unknown, On <i>Globe and Mail</i>'s Top 100
  • Unknown, One of the <i>Globe and Mail</i>'s 100 Favourite Books of 2020
  • Unknown, Silver Medal, <i>Miramichi Reader</i>'s "The Very Best!" Book Awards
  • Unknown, One of <i>CBC Books</i>'s The Best Canadian Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

"What I really enjoy about Trethewey’s work is how she spools outward, from the story of one or two individuals into matters of global importance."

<i>Buried in Print</i>

"Trethewey has an omnivorous mind and the journalist’s insatiable curiosity. Chapter by chapter her book offers sprightly, often surprising, accounts of lives touched by the sea."

<i>The Ormsby Review</i>

"She offers a scientist’s precision ... but she also has a storyteller’s gift for tracking down the people of the ocean."

<i>Writers' Trust of Canada</i>

"Everything runs downhill to the sea, from possessiveness to poetry, from pollution to passion. The sea is fact and metaphor, mine and miracle. The Imperilled Ocean is not just a catalogue of facts but, much more, beautifully rendered stories of what happens ‘out there’ and what is at stake in the inner space of our home planet."

Carl Safina, author of <i>Beyond Words</i> and <i>Song for the Blue Ocean</i>

"An exquisite tapestry of Trethewey’s deeply felt personal experiences, well-researched scientific information, and intimate stories of individuals and communities rising and falling with the shifting tides. A touchstone for those seeking a better understanding of our relationship with, and responsibilities to, our earth."

Gleb Raygorodetsky, author of <i>The Archipelago of Hope</i>, winner of the Nautilus Award Grand Pri

"Beautifully written, Trethewey’s stories of the sea and the people who share a common bond with it vividly come to life. This is a must read whether or not you spend time at the sea."

Dave Ebert, Director, Pacific Shark Research Center, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

"The Imperilled Ocean combines remarkable stories ... with deep research to paint a portrait of a place that takes up most of the space on this planet, yet we know so little about."

<i>CBC Books</i>

"An illuminating, beautifully written, and important read."

<i>The Hill Times</i>

"The Imperilled Ocean serves to inform, engage and enrich our knowledge of human experience with the ocean. In doing so, it lends credence to Kielland’s assertion that ‘it is not true that the sea is faithless, for it has never promised anything.’ Rather, the faithlessness would appear to lie in us."

<i>Atlantic Books Today</i>

Other titles by Laura Trethewey