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By Bob Goemans
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A Divers Guide to Reef Life

Authored by: Andrea & Antonella Ferrari

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: A Diver's Guide to Reef Life

AUTHORS: Andrea & Antonella Ferrari

PUBLISHER: Nautilus Publishing (2006)

ISBN 983-2731-01-1

PAGES: 480

PRICE: $45.00

This is truly an outstanding book and whether you're a marine hobbyist or diver, you 'will' find this work a 'must have' for your personal library! And once you actually pick up this hard cover book and open it, its extra-special quality becomes evident. Besides its physical high quality, it contains 1200 absolutely gorgeous color photographs of various tropical marine species, mostly fish and invertebrates, from the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea to the Caribbean. And most shown species are described with fascinating first-hand information on distribution, habitat, size, life and habits, along with some tips on how to take their photos underwater. In addition, there are approximately another 100 fascinating and beautiful color photos, with some of them showing the lay-of-the-land so to speak around and under the water surrounding several of the locations where these various species were photographed.

The work is basically divided into seven sections. Following the "Table of Contents" the first section consists of the "Introduction," which encompasses the first fifty pages. Its in turn subdivided into nine subjects ranging from an opening environmental discussion titled 'Coral Reefs, Rainforests of the Sea,' to those on Coral Shapes; Coral Polyps; Gorgonians or Sea Fans; Soft Corals; Sponges; Ascidians or Sea Squirts; An Ecosystem in Danger; and, concludes with 'How Can You Protect the Reef.' Each is accompanied with breathtaking photos!

The following section is dedicated to "Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous Fishes)" and fills the next twenty pages with some of the best color photographs of various sharks and rays that I've ever seen! Even some of the larger monsters are shown, and all with their distribution, size, habitat and life habit aspects discussed.

Section three encompasses the next three hundred pages and is dedicated to "Osteichthyes (Bony Fishes)." Now keep in mind every family member discussed is shown with a stunning color photograph and has associated text as described above. Those discussed are: Moray Eels; Snake Eels; Garden Eels; Eeltail Catfishes (Plotosidae); Grinners (Harpadontidae); Lizardfishes; Frogfishes; Clingfishes; Sea Moths; Squirrelfishes; Trumpetfishes; Cornetfishes; Shrimpfishes; Ghost Pipefishes; Seahorses and Pipefishes; Scorpionfishes; Stonefishes; Toadfishes; Waspfishes; Velvetfishes (Aploactinidae - Gnathanacanthidae); Flying Gurnards; Flatheads; Stargazers; Groupers and Basslets; Dottybacks, Bigeyes; Cardinalfishes; Longfins; Tilefishes; Cobias (Rachycentridae); Remoras; Jacks and Trevallies; Snappers; Grunts; Flying Fishes; Coral Breams; Silver Batfishes; Emperors; Fusiliers; Tripletails; Sweetlips; Goatfishes; Tarpons; Sweepers; Drummers; Batfishes; Drums; Butterflyfishes; Angelfishes; Anemonefishes and Damselfishes; Hawkfishes; Jawfishes; Mullets; Wrasses; Parrotfishes; Sand Divers; Sandperches; Triplefins; Convict Blennies; Blennies; Dragonets; Gobies; Dart Gobies; Rabbitfishes; Moorish Idols; Surgeonfishes; Barracudas; Tunas and Mackerels; Flounders; Soles; Triggerfishes; Filefishes; Boxfishes; Pufferfishes; Porcupinefishes; and, Sunfishes. WOW, comprehensive would be an understatement and where aquarists are concerned, it offers 'invaluable' information on their natural habitats, which is something no other book that I know of provides for such a wide selection as shown in this book! In fact, this type of information is exactly what marine aquarists need to replicate the proper closed system environments for many of the mentioned species!

The forth section discusses "Crustaceans" such as shrimps, crabs, and lobsters, and takes up the following fifteen pages. The next section, which takes up the following fifty pages, describes "Cephalopods," such as various octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. Included in this section are discussions and wonderful color photos on seashells, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, flatworms, nudibranchs, and some 'strange reef creatures.' Section six is quite short, as it only takes a few pages, but does show and discuss "Reptiles" such as turtles, snakes and crocodiles that are found in some of the areas visited. The last section is dedicated to "Mammals," such as Dugongs, Dolphins and Whales and only encompasses a few pages. The work closes with a few pages discussing the somewhat exposed portions of some areas where reefs are found, such as mud flats and mangrove areas, and shows some of the interesting animals that traverse or occupy it.

Just prior to the two Indexes, the authors list several of the world's best diving areas with short descriptions of each, then close with the two Indexes, one for common names, and the other for scientific names. The next to last page in the book contains "Photo Credits," and lists the names of several fellow divers who provided some of the outstanding photographs shown in the book. Finally, the last page in the book has a photo of the authors and a brief description of their various books.

I should also note that these husband and wife authors and divers are world famous marine photographers and nature writers, as they have previously written many books and magazine articles on travel, diving, and marine life. Their books and articles are mainly distributed in Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Great Britain, Malaysia, Japan, and recently in the USA. They live in Italy and Malaysia, and after several books on local diving areas, their work titled Oceani Segreti was awarded the prestigious World Grand Prize at the Festival of Underwater Image in Antibes. In fact, three years ago I reviewed the first volume in their 'Diver's Guide' series titled "A Diver's Guide to Underwater Malaysia Macrolife," which was so popular it quickly and completely sold out. I'm sure this one will do the same, and suggest getting your copy before it does. Visit their beautiful website at www.reefwonders.net.

In conclusion, 'A Diver's Guide to Reef Life' is well written and beautifully illustrated (that's an understatement!), and should be considered a 'unique' publication as it goes where many others have failed to go when publishing books on marine life, i.e., not only serves as a pictorial guide for many of the fishes and invertebrates found in various areas of the world, it also provides invaluable natural habitat information previously not available for many of the species maintained in aquaria. This work is truly a must for all that are interested in the underwater creatures that inhabit our tropical waters. Without a doubt, an excellent addition to your home library and fairly priced.

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