Summer reading - Deep by James Nestor
"Everything down here seems half developed, awkward, slow moving, and crippled in some way- failed experiments from God's test kitchen. But this assumption couldn't be more wrong. In a world without light, looks don't matter. What does matter is efficiency and adaptability, and each of these animals, as awkward and ghastly as it might appear, has evolved to fit into its own tiny niche in a harsh environment that would destroy most other creatures"
James Nestor, author of Deep on viewing sea life 2,200 ft underwater
Having immersed myself in baby books over the last six months, I was ready to get stuck into something completely different.
Deep has been next to my bed since I unwrapped it from under the Christmas tree.
Part travelogue/part science/part memoir, the book explores what lurks at the bottom of the sea.
The journalist James Nestor doesn't just speak to scientists/freedivers/explorers; he gets stuck in.
He learns to freedive, a notoriously dangerous sport where divers descend to depths of 702ft (the world record), just holding their breath.
He watches Freediving competitions where competitors sometimes return to the surface unconscious or bleeding. This wasn't enough to put him off and he still embarked on learning the practice himself - brave man.
He pays for a ticket to explore 725 feet underwater in a submarine built by hand.
He visits Aquarius, an underwater habitat in the US where researchers (aquanauts) live temporarily and are monitored 24 hours a day. Humidity ranges from 70-100 per cent and infections, mould and earaches are rampant.
He also sets out to swim with dolphins and sperm whales and shares his breathtaking experience.
I'm no great sea swimmer, always worrying about what creatures I might be stepping on. But I'm fascinated by the sea and what is hidden in its depths. Freediving seems crazy to me but I am so intrigued by it. Nestor's book is full of first hand experience, interesting facts and is a full and frank account of one man's journey to get know the world in which we live.
I have learnt so much from this book, more than I can remember learning in any geography lesson at school. This is a great Summer read I can highly recommend.
Deep is available from Waterstones and Amazon.