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Life in the Mid Atlantic

The Ultimate book on MAR-ECO 

Author: Peter Boyle (deceased), professor, University of Aberdeen

Illustrations and images by wildlife photographer David Shale, MAR-ECO partners, painter Ørnulf Opdahl, and scientific illustrator Thorolv Rasmussen,  

Buy it on or from the Bergen Museum bookstore  


Invisible from space, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises from the ocean floor 4000 m beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. A mountain range some 100-200 km wide and over 10,000 km long it bisects the Atlantic Basin from north to south. Over most of its length the crest of the ridge reaches no closer to the sea surface than 1500 m, but some peaks rise to within 500m of sea level, and the land masses of Iceland, the Azores and Ascension Island correspond to the highest summits in the range.

MAR-ECO scientists significantly enhanced the knowledge of animal life along the mid-Atlantic Ridge. This book, authored by Peter Boyle, explains the efforts from the planning to execution and synthesis. Wit a primary focus on the expedition in 2004, the story is told on how scientists conducted extensive investigations equipped with the very latest gear for biological sampling at all depths, the means to map and analyse the physical environment and a comprehensive arsenal of remote sensing equipment and underwater vehicles. At sea for over two months, travelling 11,000 km in both directions between Iceland and the Azores and working to depths of 4 km, the expedition returned with over 80,000 biological specimens and a vast database of physical recordings that will take many years to analyse.

The book is written for the general reader with interests in marine life and the undersea environment, who wishes to keep abreast of recent scientific discoveries and global issues. It is profusely illustrated with original photographs from the participants and the distinguished animal photographer David Shale. It also features the evocative paintings of Ørnulf Opdahl, artist in residence to the expedition, and the magnificent re-discovered drawings of Thorolv Rasmussen, illustrator to the 1910 Atlantic expedition of the RV Michael Sars. The book is based completely on original material from the expedition and the authoritative reports of the participating scientists with selected material from historical sources.



To read this captivating, magnificently llustrated book is to vicariously experience
the wonder and majesty of the deep ocean, to appreciate the rich diversity
of life and lifestyles far below the lightsplashed sea surface, and to sense the
camaraderie and the tension of working in an intensely driven atmosphere to
accomplish heady, valuable goals in a short period of time. Read it, and
enjoy the assessment justifiably given: “Mission accomplished!”

Roper, C.F.E. 2011. Review of Life in the Mid Atlantic, by P. Boyle. Oceanography 24(4):146–147,


Peter Boyle’s book describes a regional effort to explore biodiversity in one of the greatest geographical features on the planet, the midocean ridge habitat. Even such regional efforts can boast impressive statistics – an 11,000-km cruise track between Iceland and the Azores along with 80,000 biological specimens – and are truly international affairs: 35 scientists from 13 countries spent 2 months on the newly commissioned research vessel RV G.O.Sars. The narrative stretches from the surface down to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This bathyal ridge habitat is less well studied than continental slopes (of approximately equal surface area) and has also received little attention compared to much smaller habitats such as seamounts and hydrothermal vents. 

Stachowitsch, M. Marine Ecology (2011):1-2.




Bergen Museum Press, University of Bergen 2009.

ISBN: 987-827-8870-38-1, Hardcover, 244 p.

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