New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • An Amazon Best Science Book of 2014 • Scientific American Recommended Read
“Fascinating, informative, exhilarating.” —Wall Street Journal
Deep is a voyage from the ocean’s surface to its darkest trenches, the most mysterious places on Earth. Fascinated by the sport of freediving—in which competitors descend great depths on a single breath—James Nestor embeds with a gang of oceangoing extreme athletes and renegade researchers. He finds whales that communicate with other whales hundreds of miles away, sharks that swim in unerringly straight lines through pitch-black waters, and other strange phenomena. Most illuminating of all, he learns that these abilities are reflected in our own remarkable, and often hidden, potential—including echolocation, directional sense, and the profound bodily changes humans undergo when underwater. Along the way, Nestor unlocks his own freediving skills as he communes with the pioneers who are expanding our definition of what is possible in the natural world, and in ourselves.
“A journey well worth taking.” —David Epstein, New York Times Book Review
“Nestor pulls us below the surface into a world far beyond imagining and opens our eyes to these unseen places.” —Dallas Morning News
“This is popular science writing at its best.” —Christian Science Monitor
This exploration of the "human connection to the ocean" begins with free diving, the technique of depth diving on single breaths of air. While free diving may have earned YouTube notoriety as a danger-laden sport with "fringe disciplines" and stunning depth records, Nestor is only briefly fascinated by the "ego-driven competition," and focuses instead on free diving as the elemental mode for accessing the wonders of the ocean. A surfer with a lifelong connection to the ocean, Nestor interpolates his own training to "go deep" with encounters with scientists researching at the limits of ocean knowledge. He avoids the "quasi-religious terms" encountered in others' experiences of deep dives, yet still offers an acute sense of wonder and respect for the ocean, from the disappearing diving traditions of ancient cultures to the diversity of life in earth's deepest trenches. Nestor's explorations of the "outer limits of amphibious abilities" and "latent and unconscious senses" that link humans to our aquatic evolutionary heritage make for a thrilling account, made timely by the rapidly changing state of earth's most expansive environment.
Every single page is mind blowing.
This isn't a page turner, it's not "unputdownable," it's so very much more than that. At every turn you will discover things about humans and our fine flippered friends in the sea that will blow your mind. Amazing just doesn't do it justice. Read this, you'll be so much better for it.
Fascinating & Engrossing
Such a fascinating book. I could not put it down. I have a whole new level of respect for whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures. Dolphins holding complete conversations with each other, whale's 3D echolocation, whale clicks traveling thousands of miles even across the entire planet, brainless & boneless creatures surviving the deepest ocean depths in total darkness and freezing temperatures, etc.
I'm in amazement of the human body's capacity to adapt to the ocean - the Master Switch. I never knew the breath hold record is 22 minutes! Or that people are diving over 400 feet with just weights and fins. Of course there are constant injuries, blackouts, & deaths, but freedivers continue to push the limits of the body.
The author presents scientific evidence that life began at the bottom of the ocean, not on land. I'm convinced after reading this book that we need to stop exploring space and invest in deep sea exploration. There is a tremendous amount we could learn about our own planet.
Many books claim to be life changing but this one was for me, I will not look at the ocean the same ever again. Thank you Nestor for sparking interest and inspiration.