Winner of the John Burroughs Medal
A Boston Globe Best Book
At the lonely center of the largest ocean lies a group of islands brimming with wildlife. And there, like a feathered nation, half a million goose-size albatross chicks await foraging parents who may be gone for weeks in search of food. Our narrator in this extraordinary place is Carl Safina; his guide and inspiration is Amelia, a hardworking parent albatross wearing a state-of-the-art satellite tracking transmitter.
While scouring the ocean for just one meal for her patiently waiting famished chick, Amelia is carried by her giant wings as many as seven thousand miles from her nest. As we travel with her, Amelia becomes both host and vehicle, sweeping us along on her journeys, sharing the world as an albatross sees it.
Weaving the albatross's metaphorical and real-life powers, Safina blends literature, history, adventure, science, and in-the-moment action. Amelia's travels through space and time connect us with the explorers and hunters, including Charles Darwin, Herman Melville, and James Cook, who first penetrated the remote and forbidding albatross realms. Traveling the trackless ocean, Amelia likewise introduces us to the rhythms of whales and sea turtles, sharks and seals, fishes and seabirds.
Watching a green turtle emerge from the surf wash to breed, we marvel at a creature that makes her first hesitant transition from the float of water to the stranding alienation of land as her ancestors have done for 150 million years. Safina shows us that the drive to survive has carried these creatures through historic ravages of hunters and plunderers, and that despite a slew of new challenges, albatrosses and their ocean neighbors will likely survive long into the future. Amelia's life—the life we all share—is an epic of struggle and hope, of the power of sheer persistence and life's resilience.