By Mary M. Cerullo
Playing detective. Solving mysteries. Children delight in this type of learning. Mary Cerullo’s informational book, SHIPWRECKS: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath The Sea, appeals to the natural curiosity intertwining underwater archeology, history and environmentalism. The author successfully integrates the past and present in a nicely designed, clearly written volume. The narration concentrates on the discovery of two sunken vessels: the eighteenth century Henrietta Marie, “the only slave ship to have been found and documented in the Western Hemisphere,” and the Portland, a luxury steamship which famously gave its name to the 1898 nor’easter.
The book is also a wonderful introduction to underwater archeology. Divers who easily retrieved artifacts from the shallow Florida Keys wreck need the latest technology in underwater exploration to reach the Portland which rests in over three hundred feet of dark New England waters. Stunning underwater photographs convey the archeological clues present at the sites and the vast array of sea life that has now made these wrecks “home.” The “sunken cities” of the subtitle are the colonies of coral, fish and crustaceans that have flourished in and about the shipwrecks.