Book review: The Sea

Pictorial tome contains stunning imagery of our oceans

Author: Pat
5th February 2012

The spirit of the sea and its many faces is captured in a series of stunning new images.

‘The Sea’ by Nic Compton pools together (excuse pun) pictures from a series of specialist photographers. With 160 full colour pages, this is a coffee table book that can be difficult to put down once you start.

Bodies of water can be beautiful

As a diver, you already have a better understanding than most of the sea, viewing first hand what lies beneath, what goes on top, and what it can look like on a bad day. But what this book demonstrates is the diversity of our seas and the majesty of the world’s seascapes – a picture difficult to appreciate from our everyday viewpoint on land.

The author has split ‘The Sea’ into themed chapters. Through the course of the book we are treated to ‘From The Air’, ‘Wilderness’, ‘Ice’ and ‘Afloat’, amongst others. So a double page spread of a fully rigged schooner pitching through stormy seas rubs is juxtaposed with ferocious waves smashing a Devon seafront.

But it’s not all about the bad behaviour of the sea. Bodies of water can be beautiful too, as the Micronesian Islands or Bahamas seen from the air will attest. And there are strange geometric shapes made by the sea where it makes landfall in Andalusia, Spain.

Man’s history and interaction with the sea cannot be overstated, and photographers have caught this with shots of yachts racing in pretty wild conditions, explorers traversing frozen wastes and fishermen exploiting the sea beneath them.

Think back to your most recent UK sea dive, and chances are you saw a wide variety of creatures, no matter where it was. Well, there’s no chance that this book – or any book – could come close to covering the variety of life in our oceans, but the author has at least chosen some striking representatives: a leafy Sea Dragon, Red Sea coral reefs and ferocious looking Anglerfish are amongst those to feature.

It all adds up to a beautiful pictorial of planet Earth’s most ubiquitous, most revered, most deadly and most mysterious covering of all. It may be short on words, but ‘The Sea’ contains plenty of stories.



‘The Sea’ by Nic Compton is published now by A&C Black in Hardback, priced at £30. ISBN 9781408146651

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