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Making Sense of Coral Reefs
Posted by William Warmus on 8/8/2003
Coral reefs are among nature's most complex creations. Couple this with the inevitable disorientation (some call it euphoria) scuba divers encounter when underwater, and it is easy to undertsand why reefs are so hard to comprehend. This book helps bring the reef world into sharper focus. What I found especially useful is a system of extended, highly instructive captions. For example, on pages 112-3, cleaner fish are illustrated on the reef, and are compared and contrasted with false cleaners (mimic blennies). Or, on pages 140-1, the hunting methods of the trumpetfish are described and there is a nice photograph of a carribbean trumpetfish hovering near a tiger grouper.
"Reef" is about 200 pages long, with two main parts: The Natural History of the Reef and A Journey Through the Coral World. The author's writing can be descriptive and precise when required, or poetic, as in this passage from page 7:
"The coral reef is an outpost for the imagination and here nature is at her most baroque. The coral is her stucco, her palette is the iridescent splendour of the reef fish. But occasional glimpses of bulky shadows in the blue background are more ominous to the diver."
The concluding section of the book includes a diver's guide to coral reef fish and a bibliography.