I’ve heard great things about ‘The Deep‘ – like a Stephen King horror underwater… this subject matter will definitely have me ill-at-ease. Right up there as one of my greatest fears, trapped deep underwater in the dark, feeling the crush of pressure, running out of air, and knowing there is something menacing in the pitch waiting to eat you.

What’s your greatest fear come to life in a book?


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Picked this title up from a sale at my local bookstore (I love to support local businesses – especially brick and mortar stores!) plus, who can pass up a Stephen Baxter novel? Looks like a cool read about what happens when the icecaps melt and the seas start to envelope your home.

Book Review – ‘Spineless’ by Susan Middleton and Sylvia A. Earle

Eye-popping photography of fauna not everyone gets to see up close – and this is definitely up close.

Spineless Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Non-Fiction, Photography, Nature, Biology

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

In Spineless, acclaimed photographer Susan Middleton explores the mysterious and surprising world of marine invertebrates, which represent more than 98 percent of the known animal species in the ocean. They are also astonishingly diverse in their shapes, patterns, textures, and colors—in nature’s fashion show, they are the haute couture of marine life.

This collection of more than 250 remarkable images is the result of seven years of painstaking fieldwork across the Pacific Ocean, using photographic techniques that Middleton developed to capture these extremely fragile creatures on camera. She also provides short essays that examine the place these invertebrates occupy on the tree of life, their vast array of forms, and their lives in the ocean. Scientist Bernadette Holthuis contributes profiles describing each species, many of them for the first time. Middleton’s book is a stunning new view of nature that harmoniously combines art and science.


A break away from fantasy and contemporary books to escapism of a different kind, ‘Spineless’ tempted my imagination as much as any YA novel or artwork in a gallery. Comprised of jaw dropping photography with just enough detail to awe and inspire, igniting the inner observer and scientist in us all. Plus, touching on the artistic with hues of colour and iridescence expertly captured through the lens.

I loved the literary and pop culture quotes scattered through the narrative it provided an additional tidbit grounding this amazing work in the now for folk who don’t have a science degree.

This whole book is a great snapshot of the environmental and scientific landscapes. ‘Spineless’ gives you a great deal of technical oversight, as well as educating the reader about our environment and its threats. But on the whole it simply illustrates the beauty of nature and adaptation in the invertebrate world.

The writing style is both academic and flamboyant at the same time, drawing the reader along on an adventure both informative and inspiring. I was certainly ready to jump back into my marine biology studies after reading the book.

A great addition (and better than a glossary) were the inclusion of Species profiles towards the rear of the book. A photographic reference and brief zoological description.

We also get a bit of the behind the scenes mechanics of how this photography was executed in the final pages, which I feel not only adds credence, but is yet another aspect of inspiration for those thinking about producing their own accounts of nature through the lens.

Overall feeling: Inspiring (and a little fish in shock and awe)

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No fun for this waterbaby ☹

The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and water turbidity


I love putting my Marine Biology degree to use and volunteering for colleagues in their research, and I had signed on for a number of data collecting expeditions in the first half of this year, but my excitement was dashed when Cyclone Debbie reared her head in March, kicking up sediment, increasing freshwater runoff.

Many of the species we were to observe or tag left the area and hadn’t returned with enough population to warrant a survey. Additionally, the turbidity and visibility of the water hampered the chosen sites and work was delayed or cancelled for the time being. So I was left with a big sad face.

I would have loved to get involved with a study on the silt deposits from run-off on the reef, or how nutrient run off increases certain organism population or algal blooms in the area; but no-one I knew was conducting a foray into these areas at the moment. No luck for this girl. I was tempted to conduct my own study just for the fun of it, but that kind of endeavour takes a little bit of money and extra volunteers. I can’t justify the time an effort spent to organise when I should be writing. That’s how I weigh up every activity at the moment: is it worth me taking time of writing or not? Only because I’m determined to finish some projects this year, no matter how strong the call of the sea!

I did get one small morning survey for starfish species. A bit of light snorkelling on a sunny day in a more remote area of the Sunshine Coast to compare to the more popular and trafficked areas. More to monitor the impact of tourism and industry on the local species.

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Though because it was only a short amount of time to get the job done, I didn’t have the opportunity to swim around photographing some of the sights for my blog. Though I did manage to get a selfie – the only good one out of ten. My photographer had a hard time keeping the camera still.

It has been the least scientific of all my adventures. And without incident of my clumsiness. Prone to slipping on rocks, falling down, tripping – or getting slapped in the face by a turtle. I endure all of this for my love of the ocean and its inhabitants. Looking forward to a few adventures nearer to Christmas. Turtle tagging, some research into plankton species which will mostly be conducted in a lab, a trawling sample, and maybe a coastline survey. Sadly no dugong studies this year.

I’m still wanting to do some more nosing around in the natural spring in my back yard and get a population survey of what is right under my nose. I hear the spring has been seeded with Barramundi!

But writing first.

Head Under Water by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Triton’ by Dan Rix

B-grade horror between the pages!

Triton Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 334

From Goodreads:

In the middle of the Atlantic, four hundred miles west of Bermuda, the eight thousand passengers and crew aboard the cruise ship MS Cypress vanish into thin air. Everyone—men, women, and children—all gone. Taken.

Everyone except five teenagers.

In an instant, their seven day cruise becomes a nightmare: eighteen decks of haunted hallways, pools and bars completely empty, desserts still half-eaten in the abandoned Royal Promenade. A ghost ship the size of a city, sailing blind. At least their annoying parents are gone.

But now strange things are happening. Satellites are dropping out of orbit, falling from the sky. Satellites…and bigger things. They’re not as alone as they think. A message appears in an ancient language, burned into the carpet in the deck ten elevator lobby. It’s a warning. A monster lurks onboard, hunting them. What they’ve long suspected appears certain: the vanishing…it was an attack.

Now the most unlikely of friends must confront the shadowy pasts that link them and regain control of a runaway cruise ship, crack a four-thousand-year-old mystery, and wage war on a formless evil…before they too vanish into oblivion.  

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I have been really enjoying one of Dan Rix’s series, and wanted to pick up some of his stand-alones to see what else the author has to offer. ‘Triton’ called to me. I love books that mix in oceanic undertakings, and this looked like a spooky adventure on the seas. I should have taken into account this was one of his earlier works because it didn’t quite hit the mark for me…

The first half of the book was painful. With a cast of annoying characters none of whom I could relate to (or even like) and it took too long to set up the premise of the story. So I spent my time grunting, groaning and eye rolling in exasperation… goodness knows what my flat mate thought I was doing with all the strange noises coming out of my bedroom.

These characters acted with inappropriate behaviour bordering on mental illness. So not only was I having difficulty in relating to them, but their course of action just about gave me a migraine. Many, many times I felt their behaviour did not match their circumstances. It boggled my brain at how out of context it all was. Talk about a bunch of bipolar teens running around paranoid on a ghost ship.

Pacing picked up in the second half, and the cast became marginally less annoying. Though, their decision making was still circumspect. I don’t think I really cared for any of them at any point in this novel.

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I enjoyed the science fiction elements immensely, the premise of the story is a great hook – I was really excited about ‘Triton.’ With a great concept, pacing and the fact I did not predict the major plot twist at all, ‘Triton’ has so much going for it… it’s just the annoying cast! Argh! Also, the conclusion felt like a let-down to me personally… while magnificent, it was not something that washed me in awe; or got me excited. Not that I’d want to change the ending (though an alternative ending would be fun) but maybe re-written to keep the mystery and magnitude of the reveal. Give me that pay-off!

Triton’ possesses some great writing and story mechanics; woeful characters, motivation, and behaviour; and a so-so storyline that balances this out to just an under-average read for me. I’m glad this is one of Rix’s earlier works, because if this was a latest release I’d be seriously reconsidering my fanship.

It is an okay read, but not a book I’d recommend easily.

Overall feeling: WTF?!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Pacific Vortex!’ by Clive Cussler

Dirk Pitt is borne of pages and a passion for oceanic adventure!

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 346

From Goodreads:

Dirk Pitt’s first, most terrific adventure! Dirk Pitt, death-defying adventurer and deep-sea expert, is out to the ultimate test as he plunges into the perilous waters of the Pacific Vortex — a fog-shrouded sea zone where dozens of ships have vanished without a trace. The latest victim is the awesome superb Starbuck, America’s deep-diving nuclear arsenal. Its loss poses an unthinkable threat to national defense. Pitt’s job is to find it, salvage it, before the sea explodes. In a furious race against time, Pitt’s mission swirls him into a battle with underwater assassins-and traps him in the arms of Summer Moran, the most stunningly exotic and dangerous toward disaster, Clive Cussler plummets his hero onto an ancient sunken island-the astonishing setting for the explosive climax of Pacific Vortex!

Page border by Casey Carlisle

In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Bond-esque adventures of Dirk Pitt, and having been away from his action packed crusades for many, many years, I decided to catch up from the beginning. A goal of reading all the Dirk Pitt works from beginning to end and fill in the gaps of books I’ve missed.

Pacific Vortex!’ was better and worse than many of the other books I have read…

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBetter, because it really invoked a feeling of fear and anxiety around some of the undersea challenges Pitt faced, as well as the adrenalin filled awe at the scale and grandeur of the mysteries of the deep. I don’t think the other novels in this universe I’ve read quite captured that feeling as effectively.

Worse, because of all of the trappings that go along with a terminal bachelor ladies action man. So many archetypes which felt two dimensional and had me cringing. But I was expecting this. Dirk Pitt adventures are typically patriarchal, male-centric and reduce many interactions to machismo and objectification. It’s the same in the Bond franchise. The spoony and camp factor seem to come hand in hand in this genre.

The result was, that why I loved the adventure and marine elements, some of the stereotypes and interactions were hard to swallow. But you need to take it for what it is.

It was great to see the beginnings of a wonderful franchise. Clive Cussler writes with authority and conviction. He really knows his stuff when it comes to the marine environment – which, to be frank, is the main reason why I began reading his novels. That, and I crave a good adventure.

I know in later novels his character development and comedy are greatly improved, and female characters are painted with more than just an objective gaze or a damsel in distress. I think if I hadn’t already experienced Cussler’s later works I may have rated this lower, but have made an exception due to his legacy and the hours of wonder I’ve spent in his pages. Cussler’s writing is in part what spurred me into getting a Marine Biology degree in the first place.

So it’s only onward and upward from here. Can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings.

Overall feeling: machismo, but mad fun.

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Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Surprising things on the lawn this morning

I was lucky enough to get a call from an old friend this morning to help with the critters on his grass… sea grass that is.

I think the last time I posted about anything to do with ocean research was back in December last year when I got to do some more turtle tagging and population biometrics. With autumn settling in, it’s pretty nippy some mornings, however, the Sunshine Coast is still boasting warm days and some calm seas. So you can guess this little girl was excited at a chance to get out on the wild blue and do some exploring… Avast me lubbers! Half a day’s travel to a nearby dugong population, Aaron had phoned me up to help him collecting data on a herd he’s been studying.

Me – turn down the chance to swim with dugongs – hell no!

I didn’t have any gear, or an underwater camera, so I’m lucky Aaron was well prepared… usually his calls for help entail me trudging through mangroves, or sitting on a boat. And there is always endless opportunity to make a spectacle of myself, I’m built like a giraffe and co-ordinatedly challenged. But I love it, so my friends have to put up with my trips, falls and ass-pants. But this was amazing! I literally wanted to make a starfish in the seabed it looked so inviting.

Dugong 01 by Casey CarlisleThere was about fifteen dugongs in this herd, and a few swam up close for a nosey. It’d be great to give them a pat, but were observing in the wild and it’s not good to let them get too domesticated. One poor fella had scars across his back – a threat to this species where motorboat propellers catch them travelling over their feeding meadows. But he seems in good health. Many populations in the southern region are in danger, other factors like accidental capture in fishnets have impacted numbers as well.

There were small schools of fish, I glimpsed a cuttlefish and a number of crustaceans on the substrate. I would have loved to wander around and see what else I could find (and snap some pics), but we had a job to do. Did I mention I’m kicking myself for leaving my camera behind? Aaron graciously sent me a few snaps of our outing – probably because I whines so much at being ill prepared to document our outing. Thanks again Aaron – you are awesome!

At least this trip I wasn’t plagued with my usual clumsiness and managed to stay on my own two feet when on dry land.

It looks like the area of the sea grass itself is shrinking. And it had me wondering as to the environmental factors affecting the situation, as we’ve also had a significant event with coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef. I shudder to think of a possibility where all the amazing wonders I’ve seen could be wiped out in the near future if we don’t do all we can to protect these colonies, parks and reefs. James Cook University recently released a study that the reef will be dead within 5 years if some major work is not done to save it. I can’t imagine the impact on our parks and industry. It is a daunting thought and I don’t think enough noise is being made to help protect our sea life and their habitats.

Given the water is shallow and there wasn’t a lot of wind around, the water was pretty turgid, so visibility was hazy. I’d love to re-visit on a day with high visibility and low currents, it would be like standing on a hilltop paddock with the cows magically suspended in the air. It made me feel truly humble and I really want to do all I can to help protect this wonderful species. I’d like my children and nieces and nephews to enjoy and appreciate experiences like these.

So my day on the green was a little different, but I still am in awe at everything Mother Nature has to offer.


Me and Aaron posing for an underwater selfie.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Hues of dark water… aiming to make a start on one of these this month.

I might have to result to closing my eyes and pointing because its just to hard to decide.

Do you have a favorite?