State Award for Public Information 2020: Kai Myrberg and Matti Leppäranta

Kai Myrberg.

Marine scientist and non-fiction writer Kai Myrberg and professor emeritus and non-fiction writer Matti Leppäranta for their work, Itämeri ja ihminen (The Baltic Sea and man).

Itämeri ja ihminen provides a wide-ranging introduction to the Baltic Sea. The work is divided into ten thematic areas, covering matters such as the significance of the sea’s basin-like nature and the plants, animals and invasive species in the Baltic Sea. The reader learns about Finland’s naval wars, cruise ships and the competition between shipping companies for passengers, as well as oxygen depletion and cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea. The book covers the Baltic Sea’s prehistory, the history of research and the history of its largest islands.

Everything about the work has been done clearly, down to the illustrations. The writing style varies from illustrative storytelling to scientific narrative. The book provides information in an easy-to-understand format, avoiding information overload. The authors have paid careful consideration to the order, manner and perspectives from which the matters should be presented to the general public. Itämeri ja ihminen is an opening gambit that intends to inspire readers to find out more about the aspect of the Baltic Sea that interests them most. The real value of the work is in the curiosity it arouses about the Baltic Sea, although it is by no means a new topic.

Itämeri ja ihminen describes basic issues in a fresh, new way, including topics such as the sinking of the MS Estonia in 1994, but it often provides unexpected information, such as incredible interpretations of the reasons for the ship’s sinking. The astounding aspects of the work include the descriptions of chemical weapons lying dormant on the seabed, as well as the stunning sandy beaches that can be found on the Baltic Sea. In their capacity as researchers, the non-fiction writers Kai Myrberg and Matti Leppäranta have studied the Baltic Sea for more than 30 years. Their knowledge of other seas enables them to demonstrate the uniqueness of the Baltic Sea by comparing data such as the depths, freezing and salinity of the Baltic Sea with other seas.

Over the last century, the balance between the Baltic Sea and mankind has been disturbed. Itämeri ja ihminen is also a statement on behalf of the future of the Baltic Sea. The work makes its mark. Once read, the content of the book is not easy to forget.

Photo: Jaakko Lukumaa.

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