Samantha Muka, assistant professor of science, technology, and society in the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology (USA), will discuss Oceans under Glass: Tank Craft and the Sciences of the Sea (University of Chicago Press, 2023) in the Greenhouse environmental humanities book talk series on Monday, 6 February 2023.
Atlantic coral is rapidly disappearing in the wild. To save the species, they will have to be reproduced quickly in captivity, and so for the last decade conservationists have been at work trying to preserve their lingering numbers and figure out how to rebuild once-thriving coral reefs from a few survivors. Captive environments, built in dedicated aquariums, offer some hope for these corals. This book examines these specialized tanks, charting the development of tank craft throughout the twentieth century to better understand how aquarium modeling has enhanced our knowledge of the marine environment.
Aquariums are essential to the way we understand the ocean. Used to investigate an array of scientific questions, from animal behavior to cancer research and climate change, they are a crucial factor in the fight to mitigate the climate disaster already threatening our seas. To understand the historical development of this scientific tool and the groups that have contributed to our knowledge about the ocean, Samantha Muka takes up specialty systems—including photographic aquariums, kriesel tanks (for jellyfish), and hatching systems—to examine the creation of ocean simulations and their effect on our interactions with underwater life. Lively and engaging, Oceans under Glass offers a fresh history about how the aquarium has been used in modern marine biology and how integral it is to knowing the marine world.