Ocean Outbreak

A healthy ocean is a lifeline for humanity, but the ocean’s health is at risk as epidemics devastate both habitat-forming species, like seagrasses and corals, and keystone species, like starfish and salmon. Humans have created a perfect storm of outbreak conditions: aquaculture and human sewage introduce new infections and fertilize existing ones, shipping spreads infections globally and warming incubates them. Infections in our oceans cause massive die-offs with sweeping ecological impacts. The loss of food harvested from the ocean and its monetary value to fishers impacts our economy. Pathogens incubated in a warming ocean threaten our very health.

Ocean Outbreak explores the four biggest epidemics, taking the reader to the front lines of our confrontations with infectious diseases to investigate how four iconic marine animals have been devastated: starfish, abalone, salmon and coral reefs. The stories of these outbreaks reveal how we are tipping the balance in favor of pathogens, how detective work sleuths out the infectious agents and how environmental change amplifies their impact. Ocean Outbreak concludes by showing how we can find our way back to healthier seas, combating infection with nature’s own pathogen-fighting weapons.

Look out for this exciting new book, Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease. Read The Atlantic’s coverage of Drew’s book and her most current work on marine disease, and listen to a podcast’s excerpt below to learn of what this book is all about.


Enjoy this new film clip produced by Fragile Legacy filmmaker David O. Brown on Drew’s book Ocean Outbreak.