Peter F. Sale is a marine ecologist who has seen firsthand the degradation of coral reefs during the course of his working life. A Canadian, he was educated at the University of Toronto where he completed a Masters thesis on a near-extinct race of trout, and at the University of Hawaii, where he learned to pronounce Hawaiian words tolerably well and commenced his lifelong engagement with coral reef fishes. He has been a faculty member at the University of Sydney, Australia, University of New Hampshire, USA, and University of Windsor, Canada, where he remains Professor Emeritus. After retiring from teaching in 2006, he was affiliated through 2013 with the Institute for Water, Environment and Health, United Nations University, based in Hamilton, Ontario, where he served as Assistant Director for Coastal Projects. Peter lives with his wife, Donna, in the Muskoka District, one of the most beautiful parts of Ontario, about three hours north of Toronto. They have one son and a granddaughter born in 2010.
His work has focused primarily on reef fish ecology and on management of coral reefs. He has done research in Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean and the Middle East, and visited reefs in many places in between. He has successfully used his fundamental science research to develop and guide projects in international development and sustainable coastal marine management in the Caribbean and the Indo-Pacific. Peter’s first (technical) book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs (1991) became a classic among scientists and graduate students studying reefs. In his first non-technical book, Our Dying Planet (2011), Peter used his own experiences to help tell the story of the global environmental crisis, making the argument that this complex and very serious problem can be solved, has to be solved, and must be solved soon if we want a good future for our children and grandchildren. Our planet does not have to die.
In his newest book, Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea (2021), Peter takes a different approach. Rather than dwell on the current plight of coral reefs, he uses stories about reefs, reef science and reef scientists to reveal the sheer wondrousness of reef ecosystems, not in terms of pretty pictures, but in terms of their intricate complexity and utter improbability. His goal is to connect us to coral reefs, make them real to us. These evolutionary pinnacles are natural treasures that can bring joy while enriching our lives. They are also of immense, if unrecognized, economic value, and we should be far more invested in retaining them on this planet.
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