Author(s): Drew Harvell
It started with a glass octopus. Dusty, broken, and all but forgotten, it caught Drew Harvell's eye and inspired one of the greatest adventures of her life. From diving for dangerous jellyfish in the Mediterranean to searching for harpoon-backed sea slugs in Southeast Asia, A Sea of Glass recounts the author's quest to document the living invertebrates that inspired history's greatest father-son glassmaking team to spin their likeness into glass more than 160 years ago. The story of these artists, Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, whose menagerie of unusual marine creatures was packed away for decades in a Cornell University storage unit, provides a time capsule of life in earlier oceans untouched by climate change and human impacts. A Sea of Glass takes readers beneath the surface to a rarely seen world, introducing them to the surprising and unusual biology of some of the most ancient animals on the tree of life. On the way, we glimpse a century of change in our ocean ecosystems and learn which of the Blaschkas' stunning living counterparts are indeed as fragile as glass. Drew Harvell and the Blaschka menagerie are the subjects of the documentary Fragile Legacy, which won the Best Short Film award at the 2015 Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit. You can learn more about the film and check out the trailer here.
Drew Harvell is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University and Curator of the Blaschka Marine Invertebrate Collection. Her research on the sustainability of marine ecosystems has taken her from the reefs of Mexico, Indonesia, and Hawaii to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. She is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, a winner of the Society of American Naturalist Jasper Loftus-Hills Award, and a lead author of the oceans chapter in the recent U.S. Climate Change Assessment. She has published over 120 articles in journals such as Science, Nature, and Ecology and is coeditor of The Ecology and Evolution of Inducible Defenses.