Coral Update

Texas Monthly CoverI've been quiet on this blog for quite a while, but I've been busy writing about coral. Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs is turned in and in production. I'm so excited for it to come out next spring. I've seen the cover - and it's amazing. I can't wait to share it soon!

With the text of the book off my desktop, I've been reflecting on the writing process. Unlike working on Spineless, which always had a bit of an underdog feel and therefore a kind of giddiness, Life on the Rocks is more serious and urgent. Not that it's not full of fabulousness too: coral are remarkable animals, and discovering all of their incredible abilities had that same sense of delight as figuring out how amazing jellyfish are. I went deep on the details of the incredible symbiosis between coral and their solar-powered engines: the algae that live inside their tissues. But coral--and that symbiosis in particular--are at risk in a way that jellyfish are not. Their survival is very tied to our actions and so finding a way to tell that story without despair wasn't always easy. While jellyfish had been a buoyant muse, coral have been a weighty challenge. Both are powerful inspiration for writing, but in different ways.

One thing I've noticed writing about coral is that magazine editors recognize reefs hold a certain relevancy, and seem to be quite open to pitches. To that end, I'm so honored to have a personal essay published on The Centers for Biological Diversity's excellent website, The Revelator. It's part of a series called Vanishing, on what we're losing as our planet warms. The piece sounds like a bit of a mismatch -- looking at mass coral bleaching and the Texas snowpocalypse -- but it came to me with a kind of surety that made sense. I'm grateful to The Revelator for seeing how it could work.

And I'm beyond blown away to be the September COVER story in Texas Monthly about the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary. This story was one I'd been wanting to write for years, but it kept getting pushed to the back burner. There's a real intimidation factor getting out to the Flower Gardens, even though they are just 100 miles offshore from Texas. But after visiting and diving its insanely healthy reefs, I can absolutely report that it's worth all the effort. Plus, the fact that the protections for the Flower Gardens were INCREASED last year, through a process of compromise among petroleum companies and conservationists made the story one that had to be told. The biggest takeaway from the coral and their algal symbionts is this: we need more cooperation, not less.


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