Cover image for From monsoons to microbes : understanding the ocean's role in human health
From monsoons to microbes : understanding the ocean's role in human health
National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 132 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Climate and weather, coastal hazards, and public health -- Infectious diseases -- Harmful algal blooms -- Marine-derived pharmaceuticals and related bioactive agents -- Marine organisms as models for biomedical research -- Literature cited.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA600 .F76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What can sharks teach us about our immune system? What can horseshoe crabs show us about eyesight?

The more we learn about the ocean, the more we realize how critical these vast bodies of water are to our health and well-being. Sometimes the ocean helps us, as when a marine organism yields a new medical treatment. At other times, the ocean poses the threat of coastal storm surges or toxic algal blooms.

From Monsoons to Microbes offers a deeper look into the oceans that surround us, often nurturing yet sometimes harming humankind. This book explores the links among physical oceanography, public health, epidemiology, marine biology, and medicine in understanding what the ocean has to offer. It will help readers grasp such important points as:

How the ocean's sweeping physical processes create long-term phenomena such as El Nino and short-term disastrous events such as tsunamis--including what communities can do to prepare. What medicines and nutritional products have come from the ocean and what the prospects are for more such discoveries. How estuaries work--where salt and fresh water meet--and what can go wrong, as in the 7,000 square mile "dead zone" at the out-flow of the Mississippi River. How the growing demand for seafood and the expansion of ocean-going transport has increased our exposure to infectious agents--and how these agents can be tracked down and fought. Why "red tides" of toxic algae suddenly appear in previously unaffected coastal areas, and what happens when algal toxins find their way into our food supply or the air we breathe.

The book recommends ways we can implement exciting new technologies to monitor the physics, chemistry, and biology of the ocean to recognize change as it happens. From the impact of worldwide atmospheric warming to the significance of exotic bacteria from submarine hydrothermal vents, the ocean has many depths left to explore.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This report of the National Research Council is one of the products of the 1998 International Year of the Ocean (YOTO). It explores five aspects of the interaction between the oceans and human health: hazards (storms, climate, estuaries), infectious diseases, harmful algal blooms, marine-derived pharmaceuticals, and marine organisms as models for biomedical research. Examples of hazards and diseases include tsunamis and coastal flooding due to hurricanes, viral contamination of oysters, and "red tide" and Pfiesteria infestation of coastal and estuarine waters. The book points out that most of the 33 modern biological phyla are found in the oceans rather than on land, and therefore marine species are potentially favorable objects for medical research. However, up to now most such research has focused on only a few organisms like the toadfish, sea urchin eggs, horseshoe crabs, and squid (for their giant axons). This small book is competently written and well produced; it contains about 14 high-quality color illustrations as well as 18 pages of references. It can serve as an overview and starter reference for the topics in question. It is suited as a public and university library resource for general and student reference. All levels. F. T. Manheim; SUNY at Stony Brook