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April 17 , 2011

Reflections On A Summer Sea


This is the funny and touching story of a menagerie of eccentric and talented ecologists who, mainly as a hobby, spent forty summers at Lough Ine, a stunning marine lough in a corner of Ireland, where myths seep from the ground like will o' the wisps and, in one of the most unlikely projects in the history of science, were responsible for the reinvention of marine biology. Among the stars of the book are the marine creatures that occupy the lake: sea urchins that won't dine unless they wear a hat, otters that steal experiments, and worms that will only mate by order of the moon. The creatures' eccentric behaviour is matched only by that of the ecologists themselves, whose antics and interactions with their Irish neighbours are all lovingly described with Norton's keen eye for both the wonderful and the absurd. But for all its humour, the book is also a moving account of two ecologists who collaborated for forty years until their friendship came to a tragic end. The book brings together all the rich flavours of Ireland, the wonders of natural history and the magic of being a marine biologist just for the fun of it.

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