A California company with friends around the globe.

Colorful, creature-filled, art cover of Our World Ocean


Cartoon of an Earth-orbiting satellite, who says, "Twinkle, twinkle, great big ocean."

Aloha! If you’re reading this, you’re one of those rare people who read front matter. Perhaps you want to know what you’re in for on this voyage of the sea. (An exhilarating one!) Maybe you want to know if we’re your kind of people. (We hope so!) Possibly you’re looking for the answer to a test question. (Keep reading.) Whatever your reason, we thank you. We hope you’ll continue reading and enjoy your reading. After all, we can’t protect what we don’t understand.

When we set out to write this book (more than 12 years ago), Chamberlin had just finished publishing his first book, Exploring the World Ocean, with co-author and oceanographer extraordinaire Tommy Dickey (Chamberlin and Dickey 2008*). That book, published by McGraw-Hill, took the form of a traditional textbook. But there was a nagging feeling that, like so many textbooks, that textbook presented its subjects like bags of old bones. The meats and flavors were missing. Oceanography, like all science, is alive. It’s alive! So Chamberlin set out to write a non-traditional, student-centered, science-infused book that inspired people to fall in love with the ocean and the people who have dedicated their lives to understanding how it works.

This book offers an alternative to the traditional, dry-as-bones, ho-hum approach of the standard textbook. Sure, it covers all the topics you’ll find in a traditional oceanography textbook. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We go broader and deeper. We write the way people talk—conversationally. We encourage folks to interact with the text, to click through to full-size images, to view video and hear audio, and to quickly access the reference materials on which the presented facts and ideas are based. A future edition of the book will include an audio glossary (so you can hear the proper pronunciation of terms). It features cartoons that tickle the funny bones and imagery that makes you feel and think. The design makes it easy to read, gives ample space for posting notes, and numbered headings and subheadings make topics easier to find and make it easier for teachers to assign parts of chapters. 

To our way of thinking, books do their best work when they stimulate action from the reader. As teachers well know, the strongest foundation for learning comes from attention to three domains: the affective (i.e., emotional), cognitive (i.e., intellectual), and psychomotor (i.e., physical). The structure, design, writing, artwork, and interactive elements of this book strive to engage those domains.

We also believe that science achieves its greatest success when it’s built on the interdisciplinary and multiperspective works of diverse scientists. The problems of the world are best solved by giving everyone a voice in their solution. Scientific progress relies on the diverse knowledge, experience, and perspectives of scientists from all walks of life. That’s why you’ll find references with scientists’ names throughout the text. We want readers to identify with names they recognize and develop curiosity about ones they don’t. This approach builds a stronger appreciation for the contributions from scientists all over the world. We also make visible the dates of publication. Modern science is built on the shoulders of scientists spanning centuries of discovery. Making obvious the dates of publications connects readers to the history of science.

Of course, none of this matters if we bore our readers. We unapologetically use humor and irreverant analogies wherever possible to make our points. We’ve made every effort to make the text easy to read, the images engaging to look at, and the evidence for our statements simple to find. That doesn’t mean we don’t present difficult concepts and uncertainties in scientific knowledge. Readers deserve the “full monty” of science. How can the public develop an appreciation for the complex problems facing humanity if we treat them like dummies? 

If you like what you read, please tell someone and share a copy. It’s 100 percent free to distribute or copy to your website (as long as you give appropriate credit and don’t violate copyrights or creative commons licenses). If you don’t like what you read here, please tell us. We aim to do better.

May the ocean be with you. May a giant yellow sponge wipe away your tears when you’re sad. May a thousand dolphins sing at your next big event. In the spirit with which this was written, aloha!

Sean, Nicki, and Martha

PS: The answer to the test question is C.

Illustration of an orange sea anemone with the caption, "Thank you for reading our book."