Gary Griggs publishes collection of "Our Ocean Backyard" columns

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Gary Griggs, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has been writing a bi-weekly column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since April 2008. Now Griggs has published the columns as a book, Our Ocean Backyard: Collected Essays.

For the three billion people on Earth who live in coastal regions, the ocean is figuratively, if not literally, their backyard. The oceans enrich our lives in countless ways, but our interactions with them have not always been positive, Griggs said.

"Our Ocean Backyard" is a popular weekly feature in the local newspaper. Griggs writes the column every other week, alternating with Dan Haifley, executive director of O'Neill Sea Odyssey.

The new book is a collection of the first six-and-a-half years of Griggs's short essays, which cover ocean exploration, natural disasters, marine life, the natural and geologic history of the Monterey Bay region, waves and beaches, energy and water, and climate change and sea-level rise. Griggs writes not to advocate, but rather to illuminate. His goal is always to explain the science, which in turn enhances people's enjoyment of the ocean and empowers them to make considered, informed decisions.

"I marvel at Gary's ability to relate more complex situations in an understandable form for lay people, and in a way that holds their interest. It is obvious why he has been a successful and much-loved teacher for over four decades," said John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency and a UC Santa Cruz alumnus.

Copies of the book are available at the Bay Tree Bookstore on campus and the Ocean Discovery Shop at the Seymour Center.