Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times
Hardcover, 5 x 7, 224 pages.
ISBN: 9781597146043.

By Maddalena Bearzi

Conservationist and marine biologist Maddalena Bearzi made her career studying the wild creatures of the deep, but when COVID-19 made landfall on the California coast this seafaring scientist found herself shuttered up ashore, her wide blue world constricted by pandemic lockdown. Never good at sitting idle, she despaired at the confines of her Los Angeles flat—until she began to find wonder in the wilderness of her own backyard.

Stranded charts Bearzi’s discovery of both rapture and resilience in the unsung wildlife of urban LA. With a green thumb and a canine sidekick named Genghis, she finds as much to marvel at in her garden’s singing blackbirds, night-blooming cacti, and industrious wasps as in the whales, dolphins, and sea lions at the center of her maritime adventures. Discovering in the quotidian an antidote to the grief occasioned by captivity and climate chaos, Bearzi reveals how each of us can take heart, find courage, and discover inspiration in the thrumming systems of life that surround us. With a scientist’s precision and a poet’s instinct, she invites us to look at, listen to, and revel in the everyday grandeur of the natural world—and to embrace, with urgency, our responsibility to sustain it.


"Marine biologist Maddalena Bearzi chronicles her unexpected transition from studying oceanic life to exploring the diverse ecosystems in her own urban backyard during the COVID-19 lockdown. Through her keen observations and profound reflections, Bearzi encourages readers to find beauty in the ordinary and underscores the critical need for environmental stewardship." Candice Landau, Scuba Diving Magazine
"These nature essays exemplify evenhandedness, curiosity, and close observation. [...] The book is a passionate primer to appreciating everyday nature." Rebecca Foster, Shelf Awareness
"When marine biologist Bearzi was forced to leave the ocean at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she turned to a marvel of nature a bit more quotidian: her backyard in urban Los Angeles. Writing in the contemplative voice of early lockdown, Bearzi observes resilience in birds, bugs, and plants and finds peace and purpose for herself." Alta Journal
"Marine biologist Bearzi celebrates the marvels of ordinary wildlife in these charming meditations. Collecting vignettes about the animals she observed while confined to her Los Angeles home during Covid-19 lockdown, she serves up thoughtful commentary on humanity’s place in nature and the value of all creatures." Publishers Weekly
"Bearzi's thoughtful and meditative essays will appeal to naturalists, conservationists, and anyone who appreciates all the other animals with whom we share this planet." Kristine Huntley, Booklist
“Stranded reminds us of what we all too easily forget: the sustaining delights of finding beauty and wonder all around us.” Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix and Heartbreak
“Maddalena Bearzi’s way with words is magical, and so is her ability to transform what seem to be ordinary animals into miraculous creatures doing outrageous things right under our collective noses. And she puts us humans in our place as Earth’s worst nightmare, but also the best hope for restoring and safeguarding the health of the only home in the universe just right for us—and the millions of other species that underpin our existence.” Sylvia Earle, author of Sea Change
“What happens when a scientist, trained in the powers of observing wildlife, turns that curious eye on herself? Maddalena explores so beautifully her journey of reckoning with the wild wonder of the everyday world as she realizes what she has left unexplored is not just found in the vastness of the ocean but in her own backyard.” Beth Pratt, author of When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors
“Stranded is one of the first great pieces of environmental writing to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Peter S. Alagona, author of The Accidental Ecosystem
“Bearzi has found her place as a nature essayist of the highest order." Craig Stanford, author of Upright
“Maddalena ends with not just hope but teaching-words of personal responsibility, grassroots activism, and large-scale governmental and other action that may—may—help us in this amazing, rapidly advancing Anthropocene Epoch.” Bernd Würsig, coeditor of Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals
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Categories Nature | New Releases

About the Author

Maddalena Bearzi

Maddalena Bearzi

Maddalena Bearzi is president and cofounder of Ocean Conservation Society. She holds a PhD in biology and a postdoctorate from UCLA, and she has been involved in studying marine mammals, with a conservation bias, since 1990. Her research on dolphins and whales off California represents one of the longest investigations worldwide. She has published several scientific peer-reviewed papers, and she is coauthor of Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins (Harvard University Press) and author of Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist (University of Chicago Press). Her work and books have been covered by CNN, NPR, KPCC, Al Jazeera America, the Hallmark Channel, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and American Scientist, among others. Bearzi has also been a writer for numerous media, including National Geographic. Born and raised in Italy, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dog. Photo credit: Charlie Saylan.

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