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  • Jamal Al-Uqdah

Review on "The Outlaw Ocean"

The Outlaw Ocean is a book written by Ian Urbina. He is an investigative reporter, who has won a Pulitzer prize and a George Polk Award, and who most often writes for The New York Times. A contributor to the National Geographic and a member of the High Seas Initiative Leadership Council at The Aspen Institute.


The Outlaw Ocean is a book written after Ian Urbina went to discover what goes on in the oceans and other bodies of water around the world. According to Urbina, they covered "forty months, 251,000 miles, eighty-five planes, forty cities, every continent, over 12,000 nautical miles, across all five oceans and twenty other seas.". Doing this he discovered the events that happen across multiple bodies of waters including the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, The Black Sea and waters around Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.


The crimes he writes about in these seas vary from murdering to human slavery, drilling for oil and dumping oil to illegal fishing and stowaways.


I first found out about Ian Urbina and his story through a song. I came across an album called “Old Salt” which they say was inspired by Ian Urbina’s book “The Outlaw Ocean”. I didn’t pay attention to the album’s name but what caught me was an excerpt that was took from one of his speeches and put into the songs. “You see everything from intentional dumping to murder to kidnapping to slavery to casting stowaways overboard.”, “I didn’t write this story this story wrote through me.” said by Ian Urban. These excerpts were from “Blue Hornet” one of the songs on the album. This quote, “The murder of stowaways, where stowaways are found set off on a raft far off from shore, cut loose and left to die.”, was from “Resolution”, also a song on the album. These excerpts caught my attention and I was curious about who said it and what was he talking about. That’s when I found out about his book and who he was.


His book, investigation and great journalism skills helped him with this story. Not too many people know what is happening out there on the water, but he was determined to tell the story.


If you don’t have the book there are multiple ways you can learn more. One way is to watch the video of him on YouTube, where he talks about his book and investigation at Google. This video was very interesting, he explained a lot about what he discovered and what he includes in the book. Another way is searching “The Outlaw Ocean” and clicking The New York Times link. They provide a good review and information that he includes in his book along with a video that was recorded on a phone that shows the murdering of several people.


His Instagram is also a great source for visuals and getting information about what was going on at the time. He provides beautiful pictures and videos, reviews, and even music, all things that either came from, contributed to or was inspired by the book “The Outlaw Ocean.”

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