From Adam Nicolson, winner of the Wainwright Prize 2018 for the Seabird’s Cry
Few places are as familiar as the shore – and few as full of mystery and surprise.
How do sandhoppers inherit an inbuilt compass from their parents? How do crabs understand the tides? How can the death of one winkle guarantee the lives of its companions? What does a prawn know?
In The Sea is Not Made of Water, Adam Nicolson explores the natural wonders of the intertidal and our long human relationship with it. The physics of the seas, the biology of anemone and limpet, the long history of the earth, and the stories we tell of those who have lived here: all interconnect in this zone where the philosopher, scientist and poet can meet and find meaning.
The intertidal has been the scene for all kinds of scientific discovery – from the process of evolution to the inner workings of biological networks. But its story is as much human as natural history: how far should our lives be understood within the vast landscape of ecology? What do our buried beliefs about the tidal sea reflect of our relationship to nature? And is it the shifting condition of the tidal world, its pervasive uncertainty, its fierce interfolding of opportunity and threat, that makes it one of the most revelatory and beguiling habitats on earth?
The Sea is Not Made of Water is an invitation to the shoreline. Anyone who chooses can look beyond their own reflection and find the marvellous there, waiting an inch beneath their nose.