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Book Reviews

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 26 (1988)

CLASSIC DIVES OF THE WORLD by Horace Dobbs, The Oxford Illustrated Press, Sparkford nr Yeovil, Hard cover, dust jacket. 115 pp. £14.95

 

CLASSIC DIVES OF THE WORLD

One of a series of 'Classics', this is really a compilation of accounts of some of the great dive sites of the world by a number of authors, Horace Dobbs in particular.

After an introduction to diving, Horace takes the reader on a round-the-world 'magic carpet ride' starting in the English Channel with the Eddystone Reef and the wreck of the S. S. James Eagan Layne. Still in the west-country, Richard Oldfield and Christine Williams describe the delights of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. The west coast of Ireland is the next stopover to dive in the Atlantic Ocean on the Skelligs. Here Des Lavelle is our guide to these isolated and frequently inaccessible rocks.

Crossing the Atlantic to warmer waters, Horace Dobbs recalls his experiences in Florida, diving Key Largo. Still in the Atlantic, Martin Farr reveals the mysteries of the Blue Holes of Andros Island in the Bahamas, Moving south, Barbara Currie introduces the clear Waters of the Cayman Islands before we pass through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos Islands, where Horace Dobbs relives his experiences with sea-lions.

The volcanic remnants of an ancient string of volcanoes off New Zealand's eastern Pacific coast, called the Poor Knights, form the object of Wade Doak's contribution, before Gilbert Dinesen leads us on a dive in the Coral Sea at Lizard Island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. No book on classic dives would be complete without Truk Lagoon, and here Horace Dobbs is again the reader's guide.

Leaving the Pacific, Arthur C. Clarke describes the Great Basses Reef, S.E. of Sri Lanka and David Bellamy recounts his visit to Shark Alley, in the Chagos Archipelago - two memorable dives in the Indian Ocean, At Ras Muhammed in the Egyptian Red Sea Horace Dobbs revels with giant Napolean Wrasse. Closer to home Ashley Dobbs takes us on two dives off Gozo in the Mediterranean before returning to the North Sea to dive St Abbs Head in south-east Scotland. The book finishes the round-the-world tour back in the English Channel where Horace Dobbs recalls his experiences diving with dolphins and on the wrecks of the Isles of Scilly,

The book is generously illustrated throughout with colour and black and white photographs, mostly taken underwater, by Horace Dobbs and many others and there are maps pinpointing each of the dive locations. Whether diver or not, this book has something to Interest and fascinate everyone. An index and references to further reading would have enhanced its value as a guide, but it is a very readable and enjoyable addition to any sea-lover's library.

Book Reviews

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 26 (1988)

THE MARINE CONSERVATION SOCIETY GUIDE TO INSHORE MARINE LIFE by David Erwin and Bernard Picton. Immel Publishing, London. Soft cover. 120 pp. £9.95.

 

THE MARINE CONSERVATION SOCIETY GUIDE TO INSHORE MARINE LIFE

This excellent publication is an introductory guide to some of the marine life to be found in Britain's inshore waters. The preamble gives precise instruction on how to use the guide to name common (and not-so-common! ) marine animals and plants and discover where they live. Two hundred species from the major groups of marine organisms, are illustrated by colour photographs, two to a page. Clever use of colour coding (e.g blue for fish, green for seaweeds) at the top of each page makes rapid consultation very easy.

Common names, where they exist, as well as Latin names are given at the top of each plate, although the authors, David Erwin and Bernard Picton, both professional Marine Biologists with many year's experience between them, encourage the user not to be afraid to use the Latin names. A series of three circles, representing the organisms' size are included to the right of the name - small = the size of a 50p piece, medium = the size of one's hand, and large = the size of a suitcase.

In addition to the name of each animal or plant depicted and an indication of its size, the colour plates are bordered by 'spectral scales', described in detail in the introduction, To the left the scale gives the depth range - deeper blues representing deeper water. This is fine. To the right is a scale coloured from red to blue, representing degrees of intensity of wave action or current (from high through moderately high, mid-energy, moderately low to low). This is somewhat confusing, even apparently for the authors, as in the example on page 17 the scale is coloured orange, which should be a 'moderately high energy site,, according to p 14 and yet it is interpreted In text as 'a moderate amount of wave action'. Finally, along the bottom of each plate Is a scale representing the type of bottom on which one would expect the organism to occur (e.g. rock, cobbles and pebbles, sand etc). Each bottom type is represented by a black on white symbol (e.g an anchor for a wreck), If the symbol is overprinted red, then the animal or plant can be expected to be occur on that bottom type. I found the combination of all these symbols somewhat visually distracting. I would have thought a simple statement (e.g 1.5M long, at 10-25M, sand and mud bottom, exposed sites) would have been neater, a lot easier to understand and would have saved several pages of explanation!

The plates are excellent and should prove extremely useful when trying to identify the commoner organisms. A short introduction to each of the major groups, indicating the numbers of species in British waters etc., would not have been out of place, although a list of further reading is included towards the end of the book, along with an index (by common and Latin names) of all the species included. Despite the symbols, which I'm sure I'll learn to live-with, this is well worth £9.95. Every diver and underwater photographer should invest in a copy and carry it with him.

Book Reviews

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 30 (January 1989)

Sea Life of Britain and Ireland. The Marine Conservation Society : Edited by Elizabeth Wood. ImmeI Publishing Ltd, London. 1988. 240 pages; photographs and line drawings throughout; paperback. £14.95.

 

Sea Life of Britain and Ireland.

'The sea life around the British Isles teems with marine life of all sorts and is one of the most spectacular wild places now left to us in these crowded islands. This book takes the reader on a trip around the shores and shallow waters of Britain and Ireland, explaining and describing what lives there, and why.

So begin the cover notes in this excellent publication by the Marine Conservation Society, edited by Elizabeth Wood and published by Immel. In fact twelve authors contributed to this very readable and informative book, which describes our marine communities from the shore down to 50 metres. Following an enthusiastic 'Forward' by David Bellamy, separate chapters are devoted to 'Out to Sea', 'Rocky Reefs and Shores', 'Living


Wrecks', 'Pebble and Shell Grounds', 'Soft Seabed and Shoreline', 'Estuaries and Inlets', 'Sea lochs and Lagoons' and 'The Last Wilderness'. As one would expect there is a subtle emphasis on conservation throughout.

The book is fully illustrated with some 200 colour photographs, taken mainly by David George, Bernard Picton and Elizabeth Wood, and supplemented by line drawings by Ann Alexander, Gerard King and Pamela Webb. In fact almost every opening includes at least one line drawing and usually more, plus several photographs as well.

A series of maps showing our coastal wetlands, heritage coast sites, marine conservation areas and seabed types plus brief biographies of the contributors and two extremely useful indexes, one to scientific and common names arranged systematically and the other a general index arranged alphabetically, complete the book.

The book is bound in a handsome stiff cover with a photograph of a hermit crab, Pagurus bernhardus inhabiting a whelk shell (used by the Society as its emblem) adorned with several anemones, Calliactis parasitica, Ironically neither Pagurus or Calliactis parasitica is listed by its scientific name in either index, although bernhardus is indexed alphabetically.

The book took 21/2 years to compile and all credit must go to Immel, the editor Elizabeth Wood, the editorial adviser David George, the illustrator/designer Jane Stark and all the contributors for such a remarkably fine finished product. Despite the fact that underwater photography is covered in just one paragraph, the contents will appeal to a very wide audience, who will find no visit to the coast complete without a copy.

I am certain that this is one book that needs no reviews - it will undoubtedly sell itself. Get your copies, one for yourself and others for all your friends and relatives as treasured Christmas gifts, while stocks last!

BOOK REVIEWS

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 30 (January 1989)

How to use Sea and Sea by Joe Liburdi and Cara Sherman. Orca Publications, Redondo Beach, California. 1988. 120 pages; numerous colour photographs and line drawings, paperback. £12.50. Available from early December from Sea and Sea Ltd, Alexandra Lane, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1JD.

 

How to use Sea and Sea

This useful little book describes the range of underwater photographic products available from Sea and Sea, how they operate and how they can perform.

The book begins with the fundamental principles of photography and the unique demands of the underwater environment and then takes the reader through the Sea and Sea product line and teaches, step by step, what each piece of equipment does and how to use it, care for it and what to do if something goes wrong.

A useful summary of the product line is provided by a double page spread on pages 18-19 which depicts each item and its physical relationship with other items.

Chapters are devoted to the Pocket Marine 110SE, the Motor Marine 35SE, Wide-angle Lenses, Close Up Lenses, Extension Tubes and Macro Lenses and Strobes. In the later, there is a useful chart for comparing the Sea and Sea range of strobes in terms of Exposure control, Guide number, etc on page 92. The book concludes with chapters on 'Preventive Maintenance' and 'Flooded Systems: Emergency Measures'. There is also a 'Glossary' and a useful 'Index' at the end.

The book is illustrated with numerous line drawings and some excellent photographs. I would have liked to have more technical detail about each of the shots and this would not really be out of place in the light of all the technical information within the text. The comprehensive descriptive text of each product item or group of items is probably little more than would accompany each item when purchased, but it is nevertheless very handy to have all this information in one neat book, particularly if you are thinking about buying Sea and Sea, although unless it is updated fairly regularly it will soon be out of date. In addition to the new YS-200 strobe announced on page 101, I hear that a new 35 mm camera is imminent!


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