Browsing content filed in writing

Have we already passed ‘peak fish’? I take a close look at the world’s fisheries for BBC Focus magazine.


In my latest story for National Geographic News I report for a second time on glowing deep sea sharks – this time about how they warn off predators using light sabers…

pygmy ph fossil

Strange fossils

In my latest story for National Geographic News I introduce the world to the first found fossil of a pygmy pipehorse. These wierd-looking animals are close relatives of seahorses and look something like a cross between a seahorse and a pipefish


Along with my colleagues John Bruno and Emmett Duffy, I’m a contributor at the Seamonster Blog. It’s a blog about the oceans. We cover news in ocean sciences and the environment, oceans sports, the amazing plants, animals, and people that inhabit the oceans, ocean policy and conservation, and the funny, cute, crazy, scary and weird. We …

beluga mike johnston

The whale who learned to talk

This week I wrote a piece for National Geographic News about a beluga whale who is sadly no-longer with us. Five years after he passed away, NOC the whale has hit the headlines with a study just out describing how he learned to mimic a human voice. Have a listen to the sounds he made. Photo by Mike Johnston. …


Are the oceans dying?

I reviewed Callum Roberts’ latest book Ocean of Life (How our seas are changing) for the Globe and Mail. Callum’s book gives an excellent and immensely readable account of the problematic relationship between humans and the oceans. As you might expect, it’s not exactly a cheery read, although he does somehow manage to maintain a …

holkham beach by Evelyn Simak

Notes on the north Norfolk coast

This time yesterday I was standing on a gigantic sandy beach. The sun was shining down from a cloudless sky, miniature waves breaking around the legs of exotic-looking seabirds that probed the sand with long beaks, and I felt like I was in another country. In fact all I’d done was drive two-hours north and …

cod wayneandboat

Cod end

I was recently asked by The Browser to pick my top 5 books about the ocean. Mulling over my choice I returned to a modern classic and re-read that pioneer of single-topic, one-word titled bestsellers – Mark Kurlansky’s Cod. Mark’s book has been sitting on my shelf since I was an undergraduate zoologist and it …

baobab misty

Beautiful Baobabs

For six months I lived and worked in Madagascar, on its wild western coast, and every day I encountered some of the most spectacular trees in the world. There are 8 species of baobab and 6 of them are found only in Madagascar. For most of my stay it was the dry season in the …

Green turtle by Mbz1

Sea turtles and glow sticks don't mix

You know those luminous plastic sticks that light up Haloween, bonfire night (here in the UK), and that Scuba divers use while diving at night? Turns out they are bad news for sea turtles. It’s the mesmerizing glow of these gadgets hanging on fishing long-lines that lures thousands of turtles to their death every year. …