Book excerpt: Part 1 of Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas by Liz Cunningham

Humpback mother calf

Humpback mother and calf © 2015 Liz Cunningham

Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage From Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas is available in independent bookstores now or at

“…With genuine emotion and great pragmatism, Cunningham makes
passionate pleas for the continued health of the planet.”
—Publishers Weekly

In Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest
to Save the Seas
, Liz Cunningham shows us how people around the world
are practicing “hope in action” and why it’s time for all of us to
join them.

After Liz Cunningham was nearly swallowed by a rogue wave in a
kayaking accident in which she was temporarily paralyzed, she was left
with a sense of despair and alienation from the waters that she had
always turned for solace and healing. As she recovered physically,
Cunningham vowed that she would reconnect with the ocean and recover
hope—hope for herself and for the planet’s ailing waters. In Ocean Country:
One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas

(Foreword by Carl Safina, North Atlantic Books, September 8,
2015, Paperback), Cunningham shares her two-year global journey to
discover how communities and individuals are fighting to save the
marine world that every living being depends on and how they are
creating hope through action in dire times.

From a former “dynamite fisherman” in Indonesia who walked away from
heftier profits to save the ocean ecosystem his community relies on
for subsistence to a culinary school in Paris that teaches sustainable
cooking practices, people are rescuing our oceans and coming together
to fight the destruction that can seem inevitable. And they are
effecting change—though we rarely hear about. Recently, Bluefin tuna—a
species all but declared extinct—has seen in an uptick in their
stocks. This turn-around is a result of massive, coordinate effort
across industries and communities. It is one of the remarkable stories
of people practicing what Cunningham calls “hope in action.” From the
San Francisco Bay Area to the Turks and Caicos Islands to Sulawesi,
Indonesia to Papua, New Guinea to French islands in the Mediterranean,
Cunningham shows us how people throughout the world are beginning to
see that we can have hope, that we must act, and—most importantly—that
the two are interdependent.

Ocean Country is an adventure story, a call to action, and a poetic
meditation on the state of the seas—but most of all—it is a story of
finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face
humankind.

Twenty-one percent of royalties will be given to the New England
Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF), which aims to
protect and promote ocean biodiversity through funding of small-scale,
time-sensitive, community-based programs. This amount was chosen to
highlight the percentage of oxygen in each breath we take and that the
fact that over one half of that oxygen comes from marine plants and
algae in the ocean.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LIZ CUNNINGHAM is the author of Talking Politics: Choosing the
President in the Television Age (Praeger), which features frank and
probing oral-history interviews with top television journalists such
as Tom Brokaw, Larry King, and Robin MacNeil. She has written for
Earth Island Journal, East Bay Express, the Marin Poetry Center
Anthology, The Outward Bound International Journal, Times of the
Islands, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She has collaborated with
institutions such as the Academy for Educational Development, the
Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the
Smithsonian Institution. She also serves on the board of Outward Bound
Peacebuilding and holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the
Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Visit her at: lizcunningham.net.

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