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Jonathan White, author of “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean,” will speak and sign books at Unity College.

Jonathan White, author of “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean,” will speak and sign books at Unity College.

The program is 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts. Earlier in the day, White will give a one-hour talk, including light lunch and refreshments, to the Unity College community and invited guests as part of the stimulating Fishbowl colloquium series at America’s Environmental College.

“Ocean acidification, rising sea-levels, over-harvesting of our fisheries, marine debris — ocean-related issues are a major part of sustainable natural resource management,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “Conversations about the world’s most pressing environmental matters are taking place at America’s Environmental College, and I am eager to hear the highlights of his extraordinary book.”

White’s love for the sea is lifelong. An expert mariner and marine conservationist, he grew up diving, sailing and fishing on the beaches of Southern California, has logged more than 100,000 miles sailing on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and has surfed all over the world.  

In the 1980s, he founded the Resource Institute, a nonprofit educational organization for which he hosted a renowned seminar series aboard Crusader, a 65-foot wooden schooner that sailed the Pacific Northwest. Crusader’s odysseys nearly ended, however, in 1990 when the boat ran aground and was nearly destroyed on a large tide in Alaska’s Kalinin Bay. Shaken and intrigued by his underestimation of tides and their power, White set off on a quest across the globe to understand the history, science, and majesty of one of our planet’s most remarkable phenomena.  

In “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean” (Trinity University Press; hardcover; $28), White takes readers on a journey of discovery around the globe to witness the largest, fastest, scariest and most amazing tides in the world.

He travels to the Arctic to shimmy down a hole in the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for blue mussels in the dark cavities below; to the Qiantang River in China to witness the Silver Dragon, a twenty-five-foot tidal bore that crashes its way up the eighty-mile river; to California to shadow the Mavericks competition where surfers paddle into deadly waves sixty feet high. In France’s Mont St. Michel he learns how the monks were inspired by the tide, at the Royal Society of London he discovers how Plato and Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Descartes, and many other noted thinkers had been captivated by the tide’s mystery, and learns that the book that led to Galileo’s arrest for heresy by the Catholic Church was a treatise originally called The Flux and Reflux of the Tides.

White also demonstrates how, in this age of drastic global climate shifts, tides offer critical insight into the planet’s future. On the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, we see how the small island archipelago confronts sea level rise, and in Venice, Italy, how the city has been making extraordinary preparations for the coming effects of climate change. White also discusses ongoing research into the enormous opportunity to harness tidal energy in places like New England, Chile, Puget Sound, Scotland, and elsewhere.

“Tides” combines lyrical prose, colorful adventure travel, and provocative scientific inquiry into the elemental, mysterious paradox that keeps our planet’s waters in constant motion. White’s presentation includes photographs, video, stories, and short readings, taking audiences on an enthralling journey into the surprising and poetic workings of the tide.

White is a writer, conservationist, sailor, and educator. He has served on numerous conservation boards and committees, including the San Juan Preservation Trust, the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee, and the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative. His first book, “Talking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity,” features interviews with Gretel Ehrlich, David Brower, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gary Snyder, Peter Matthiessen, and others. His writing has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, The Sun, Sierra, Whole Earth Review, and Fine Homebuilding. The former president of the Resource Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit focusing on the culture and traditions of the Northwest, he now lives on Orcas Island, Wash.   

Monday, February 27, 2017