SAMS news room

SAMS scientist informs the Sea Detective

In the currents and tides surrounding Scotland, pushed on by wind and weather, where would an oil spill trail, a life-raft track, or a corpse wash up?

These are the type of questions that drive Cal McGill, the lead character of The Sea Detective, the debut novel of Mark Douglas-Home to be released in paperback and as an e-book this Friday February 24th. McGill is a PhD student of oceanography, whose mission is to bring polluters of Scottish waters to justice, but he also has a special interest in the ocean-borne passage of human remains lost, or dumped, at sea.

As part of Mr Douglas-Home’s research for the book, he discussed his ideas with Professor of Oceanography Toby Sherwin of SAMS to ensure authenticity. How objects move across the ocean, tracking forward and back, fascinate the anti-authoritarian McGill and his focus is hindcasting and forecasting the passage of marine pollution and debris. But these are complex matters as objects don’t just go with the flow, but are affected on their journey by the sea state, weather, wind, tide, currents and how much of the object is above or below the water. Mr Douglas-Home said the number of variables involved in marine tracking allowed for freedom and surprise within his plot, but “having someone like Toby [Sherwin] has been wonderful to test my ideas and provide confidence” in ensuring accuracy of subject matter.

The Sea Detective is centred in Scotland, with much of the action happening on the west and north coasts, but adds to its depth and richness with links to India and, like the oceans, tracks back and forth between the present and the past.

< Previous|Next >