The subtitle continues: with Sex-Changing Fish, Romatic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep. My eleven-year-old was appalled when she saw this book on my bedside stack: “Mom! Why are you reading that?” I had to laugh. It’s much better than Wild Sex which I read several years ago. I had no issues with the level of detail or type of humor here. Just enjoyed reading it and learned some new things. Life in the sea is so diverse, and so too are the many ways that ocean creatures procreate. From non-mobile corals and barnacles, to whales that cross the entire ocean. She describes first of all, how sea animals find each other in the ocean, how they coordinate their actions (some must congregate in large numbers for spawning to be successful), their differing means of flirtation (or outright coercion in some cases), and not surprisingly- how our actions are affecting their abilities to carry on reproducing. When I think of human influence on the ocean, things like beach erosion, pollution, microplastics, overfishing and sheer noise volume come to mind. But Hardt makes it clear that other things we do affect the viability of ocean life. Chemicals that leach off boat paint or wash into the sea from land fertilizers can change the hormone levels and sexual characteristics of some invertebrates, for example. Warming waters changes the ratio of male to female in other populations. Dwindling numbers due to myriad causes affect the spawning rates of things like urchins- if there’s not enough of them around, close enough to each other, they simple don’t. It might be another book that makes me feel dismal, except that it was written six years ago, so I’m glad that some things have gotten better by now.
Borrowed from the public library.