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Amorina Kingdon (CA)

Sing Like Fish: How sound rules life under water

Sing Like Fish: How sound rules life under water

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A captivating exploration of how underwater animals tap into sound to survive, and a clarion call for humans to address the ways we invade these critical soundscapes—from an award-winning science writer

Sing Like Fish is that rare book that makes you see the world differently.”—Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling author of Salt and Cod

For centuries, humans ignored sound in the “silent world” of the ocean, assuming that what we couldn’t perceive, didn’t exist. But we couldn’t have been more wrong. Marine scientists now have the technology to record and study the complex interplay of the myriad sounds in the sea. Finally, we can trace how sounds travel with the currents, bounce from the seafloor and surface, bend with the temperature and even saltiness; how sounds help marine life survive; and how human noise can transform entire marine ecosystems. 

In Sing Like Fish, award-winning science journalist Amorina Kingdon synthesizes historical discoveries with the latest scientific research in a clear and compelling portrait of this sonic undersea world. From plainfin midshipman fish, whose swim-bladder drumming is loud enough to keep houseboat-dwellers awake, to the syntax of whalesong; from the deafening crackle of snapping shrimp, to the seismic resonance of underwater earthquakes and volcanoes; sound plays a vital role in feeding, mating, parenting, navigating, and warning—even in animals that we never suspected of acoustic ability. 

Meanwhile, we jump in our motorboats and cruise ships, oblivious to the impact below us. Our lifestyle is fueled by oil in growling tankers and furnished by goods that travel in massive container ships. Our seas echo with human-made sound, but we are just learning of the repercussions of anthropogenic noise on the marine world’s delicate acoustic ecosystems—masking mating calls, chasing animals from their food, and even wounding creatures, from plankton to lobsters. 

With intimate and artful prose, Sing Like Fish tells a uniquely complete story of ocean animals’ submerged sounds, envisions a quieter future, and offers a profound new understanding of the world below the surface.

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Amorina Kingdon is a science writer whose work has been anthologized in Best Canadian Essays and received honors including a Digital Publishing Award, a Jack Webster Award, and a Best New Magazine Writer from the National Magazine Awards. Previously, she was a staff writer for Hakai Magazine, and a science writer for the University of Victoria and the Science Media Center of Canada. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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