The focus of this book is on how a coral reef functions, the jobs of individual residents, and how they collectively create a sustainable community. The author explores how solar energy powers the reef, how raw materials are used efficiently and waste is recycled, why biodiversity is security, and how everything is connected. There are also many insights into the more personal lives of reef residents-some are as strange as any science fiction. By viewing coral reefs in the context of a human city, one can more easily appreciate the creative ways reef communities operate; they neither undermine their own survival nor that of other communities elsewhere. In other words, a variety of species collectively enhances the survival of the entire community.
Dr. Murphy sees reef communities existing in a dynamic equilibrium where forces of competition, destruction, and decay are balanced by cooperation, repair, and rejuvenation. There are lessons for those of us who are concerned about making our own communities more sustainable. The subject matter is serious, but it is not taken so seriously that it isn't fun.