Assistance in constructing this e-book has come from many quarters. Diana Landau, my editor, read the manuscript with a keen eye, cleaning up language, filling in gaps, spotting inconsistencies, and seeing to details I was often too impatient to notice. Matt Clark, who provided art direction, digital production, and cover design, brought to the project a rich understanding of the iBooks Author program, a sensitive eye for style and color, and extreme patience with an author committed to but woefully ignorant about digital media.

I am grateful to the staff at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA for their support, encouragement and generosity. Rich Delaney embraced the project from the moment I introduced it to him, and made a place for me at the Center as an Adjunct Scientist. Carole Carlson selected spectacular whale pictures from her extraordinary archive and suggested the multi-generational approach I incorporated into the whale watch narrative. Jesse Mechling continues to help me think through the best ways to use the book as an educational tool.

Herb Heidt and Eliza McLennen of MapWorks demonstrated great skill in preparing the maps used throughout the book, and willingness to adapt those skills to my needs. Their overall enthusiasm for the project is also greatly appreciated.

Most of the infographics in the book were adapted from examples found on the internet and rendered in a common format by the students in the Graphic Arts Department at Cape Cod Technical High School under the direction of Arthur Balzotti. My thanks to them, both for their fine work and for their willingness to accept feedback and make adjustments where needed.

I am greatly indebted to Martha Sheldon for her illustrations of the food chain, the food web and the creatures contained therein.

Tim Flannery, in his book Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet (Grove Press, NY, 2010) introduced me to the Gaia Hypothesis that serves as the organizing structure for this book. The hypothesis was formulated and tested by James Lovelock, and has been elaborated in a number of book authored by him. The works of both Lovelock and Flannery have inspired me throughout this project.
Thanks goes to my daughter Maria for reviewing the book from a scientific standpoint, and to my grandchildren Tom and Kay for providing the models upon which several of the characters in the book are based.

My father, Moncrieff M. Cochran Jr., was fascinated by and loved the natural world. His knowledge, interest and feelings washed over me in my youth and continue to be a great influence. Betsy Cochran, my mother, was a gifted writer whose talents are an ongoing inspiration.

Sheila Bonnell has been my constant companion and great love throughout this project. Her boundless enthusiasm for the work, constructive criticism, and ongoing support have made a huge contribution along the way. She has also taken a number of the photographs accompanying the narrative. For all these things and more I am eternally grateful.