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The Sound of the Sea

Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans


Our Retail Price:£18.99

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A history of shells and the creatures that make them, revealing their outsized role in human affairs and what they have to tell us about the changing oceans.

Seashells have been the most coveted and collected of nature’s creations for thousands of years. They were money before coins, jewellery before gems, art before canvas.

In The Sound of the Sea, Cynthia Barnett blends cultural history and environmental science to trace our long love affair with seashells and the hidden lives of the mollusks that make them. From the mysterious glow of giant clams to the surprising origin of Shell Oil as a family business importing exotic shells, the book is filled with unforgettable stories. As it explores the perfect symmetry of a Chambered Nautilus, the pink-glossed lip of a Queen Conch or what we hear when we hold a shell to the ear, it makes a powerful argument for listening to shells—and acting on what they are telling us about the impacts of climate change on the seas, marine life and humanity.


"Will have you marveling at nature… Barnett’s account remarkably spirals out, appropriately, to become a much larger story about the sea, about global history and about environmental crises and preservation." — 24 Books to Read this Summer, The New York Times Book Review