Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Challenging the Deep: Thirty Years of Undersea Adventure / Hans Hass. Published in 1973 by William Morrow and Company, New York.

The book-jacket says it all: how Hass was a pioneer scuba diver, innovative photographer and biologist who spent a few decades pursuing a quest underwater to uncover the secrets of life. At last a realization came that answers to his quest were to be found on land as well and he withdrew from undersea adventures to examine the evidence of how animals live on land.

Challenging the Deep contains color and black and white photography of sharks, coral, strikingly colorful tropical fish and portraits of himself, scientists who worked with him, and a few of his family, including Lotte his wife, son and daughter.

Translated by Ewald Osers, this biography of Hass, reveals what he thought about what he saw underwater. His was an inquiring nature; in describing an encounter with a sperm whale, he says (page 193):

"Without an eye an animal is not animal… Even when an animal attacks us we look not at its mouth or its paws but at its eyes.

The eyes of the sperm whale are quite minute and are located ten to thirteen feel down the side of its head. With them the sperm whale can see a short distance to either side of it, but cannot see what lies ahead… How then does the sperm whale orientate itself when it perceives two totally different images?"

Find the book in our online catalog at LibraryThing.com

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