A review from the Dictionary of Sydney

Cover of Joy McCann's Wild SeaJoy McCann, Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean.

NewSouth Books (2018),  256pp., ISBN 9781742235738, p/bk, RRP: $32.99

The Southern Ocean, the world’s least known and least visited ocean, is the only ocean which flows completely around the earth, unimpeded by any significant landmass. It stretches north from Antarctica to the southern coastlines of Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa. Australian environmental and social historian Joy McCann’s history of this spectacular and often mysterious and threatening feature of our planet is both informative and impressive.

McCann’s wide-ranging research is presented in clear and often vivid prose which conveys her love and respect for her subject. This is more than a history of the Ocean, drawn from scientific investigations and explorers’ accounts. It is a fascinating celebration of what the Ocean means to the earth and a call for careful attention to the threats faced by those who depend upon it, especially its inhabitants from tiny krill to the majestic whale and albatross.

Having sailed through the Southern Ocean and stepped ashore on some of its most forbidding coasts, Joy McCann is no armchair traveller. She brings a personal knowledge and commitment to her task of describing, interpreting and stirring up enthusiasm for this vast and wondrous ocean.

The book is well indexed and is also illustrated by a good selection of drawings and photographs. There are also four very useful maps which readers will often need to consult as they journey with the author, though it is unfortunate that the locations of these maps were not given on the Contents page.

Dr Neil Radford, June 2018


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