In recent years, a catastrophic global bleaching event devastated many of the world’s precious coral reefs. Working on the front lines of ruin, today’s coral scientists are struggling to save these important coral reef ecosystems from the imminent threats of rapidly warming, acidifying, and polluted oceans. The monograph, Coral Whisperers: Scientists on the Brink, captures a critical moment in the history of coral reef science. Based on over one hundred interviews with leading scientists and conservation managers, Irus Braverman documents a community caught in an existential crisis and alternating between despair and hope. In this important new book, corals emerge not only as signs and measures of environmental catastrophe, but also as catalysts for action.
"How to save the world's dying coral reefs? Passionate advocates, original approaches, and surprising scholarship mean that all is not lost—yet. Compassionate, comprehensive, clear-eyed and hopeful, Coral Whisperers deserves a very loud cheer!"
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
“Coral reefs are the single most vulnerable ecosystem on a warming planet, and in this volume we meet the remarkable people trying to prevent their total devastation. May this book move you to action!”
—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
“Coral Whisperers provides a unique perspective on one of the existential problems of our time. Through interviews with a large number of coral reef scientists (and some managers), Braverman explores the current environmental crisis as it is affecting coral reefs, and its impact on the scientists themselves. It is rare to see a book about how scientists do their science, and about how their experiences affect them as people, as citizens, and as scientists. This is a significant contribution to documenting a critical time in the history of coral reef science and management, and to revealing scientists as real people.”
—Peter F. Sale, author of Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face
“Reef corals are dying and scientists despair about what, if anything, can be done to save them. Irus Braverman brilliantly analyzes the emotional underpinnings of this debate and how deeply they will influence how science is done as the Anthropocene environmental crisis unfolds.”
—Jeremy B.C. Jackson, coauthor of Breakpoint: Reckoning with America’s Environmental Crises
"Coral Whisperers offers a thoroughgoing inventory and expert assessment of the many scientific debates circulating around today’s beleaguered coral reefs. Braverman powerfully captures today’s urgent conversation about the future of some of Earth’s most remarkable ocean ecosystems."
—Stefan Helmreich, author of Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas
Book also reviewed and discussed by:
(2022). Coralations: Back to the Breath. Queensland Review 28(2): 94–97. doi 10.1017/qre.2022.5.
(2021). Corals in the City: Cultivating Ocean Life in the Anthropocene. Contemporary Social Science 16(1): 96-112. DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2019.1688382. Link.
(2020). Shifting Baselines in Coral Conservation. Nature and Space: Environment and Planning E (special issue) 3(1): 20-39. Link
(2019). Living on Coral Time: Debating Conservation in the Anthropocene. Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia (Spring 2019), no. 1. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. Link
(2019). Coral Whisperers on Bulletin of the Pacific Circle, pp. 28-30.
(2019). Iain McCalman. Shouting about Reefs. The Times Literary Supplement. Issue 6057, May 2019.
(2018). Laurence A. Marschall. Bookshelf: Coral Whisperers. Natural History Magazine November issue.
(2018). Coral Whisperers. Library Reviews. October issue.
(2018). Coral Whisperers. Foreword Reviews. November-December issue.
(2018). Elizabeth Kolbert. How to Write about a Vanishing World. The New Yorker, October 15. Link
(2016). Bleached! Managing Coral Catastrophe. Futures (special issue) 92: 12–28. Link
(2016). Biopolarity: Coral Scientists between Hope and Despair. Anthropology Now 8(3): 26–40. Link
Related Book Chapters
(2020). “Coral Restoration and Citizen Scientists in the Anthropocene.” In Jenny E. Goldstein & Eric Nost (eds.). The Nature of Data: Infrastructures, Environments, Politics Nebraska University Press.
(2017). “The Life and Law of Corals: Breathing Meditations.” In Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Victoria Brooks (eds.), Research Methods in Environmental Law: A Handbook (Edward Elgar Publishing), pp. 458-481. Link
Video: INTERVIEW: Doing Ethnography Remotely
Blog: A Coral Revolution (2018)
Radio: KALW NPR Public Media Interview (2018)
Video: Irus Braverman - In-depth Exploration (2017)
Video: RACHAEL CARSON CENTER: Colloquium (2018)
Newspaper Article: משבר בתפיסת שימור הטבע [Mashber Be-Tfisat Shimur Ha-Tevah.] HaZman HaZe – Haaretz