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Book Reviews

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 48. (June 1993)


Ireland's Underwater Life

Ireland's Underwater Life - A world of beauty.

Edited by Matt Murphy and Susan Murphy. Photographs by Paul Kay. Sherkin Island Marine Station Publications. ISBN 1870492 75 7. Hardback IRL17.99 + IRZ3.50 p. and p. available from Matt Murphy, Sherkin Island Marine Station, Sherkin, Co. Cork, Ireland.

Ireland's Underwater Life is a celebration of the magnificence of the marine life in Irish waters particularly around Sherkin Island. The book, edited by Matt Murphy and Susan Murphy, includes a small number of photographs by people who previously visited Sherkin Island Marine Station, but the majority are by Paul Kay.

Paul Kay is a freelance photographer based in North Wales. He shot his first underwater photograph at Sherkin Island Marine Station in 1983 when he came as a volunteer scientist. Since then he has dived extensively around Sherkin Island and North Wiles. His photographs have appeared in many magazines and books. Paul used a Nikon F801 with a 60mm Nikkor in a Subal Miniflex housing and a Subal housed SB24 flashgun on Fuji Velvia for most of his photographs. Some macro shots were taken in a specially constructed aquariums, but the vast majority were taken underwater during August 1991 in just 15 dives!

The book is essentially a picture book of some of Ireland's beautiful marine life, interspersed with a few surface shots. Text throughout the book is confined to the scientific, English and Irish common names and the photographer's credit, although there is a foreword by Ireland's Minister for Heritage and Wildlife, Noel Treacy, T. D.
The quality of most of the pictures is exceptional and Paul Kay is to be congratulated for his efforts, particularly since most of the images he took were captured in so short a period. My particular favourites are the Corkwing Wrasse, the Common Hermit Crab, the Red Gunard, the Lesser Octopus, the Plumose Anemone, the Ballan Wrasse, the Butterfish portrait, the seaslug Doto, and the Common Shore Crab, but there are many more equally good photographs of a very wide range of subjects.

An index would have been a useful addition, particularly to assist biologist's and photographer's alike in identifying some of the marine subjects they might encounter underwater. However, the book is not intended as a guide and the ommission of an index does not detract from its appeal. I can highly recommend 'Ireland's Marine Life' for any photographer's or diver's bookshelf.

Book Reviews

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 48. (June 1993)


Marine Life In the South China Sea

Marine Life In the South China Sea by Margaret S. Gremli with Helen E. Newman, photographs by Singapore Club Aquanaut and others. Insight Guides, APA Publications (HK) Ltd. ISBN 0-62421-542-1. 228 pp. Softback.

This is one of a very large number Insight Guides covering most parts of the world, although with this exception these feature the world above the surface. As befits a guide to marine life the contents are arranged into groups, though not systematically. Following an introduction there are sections on corals, coral relatives, plant life, fish, and invertebrates. These are followed by section on reef visitors and four features including 'Conservation'. The book is completed by a glossary and an index.

The book is filled with numerous colour photographs, most of which are very good natural history shots. However, when there are more than two or three to an opening these are rather small and are frequently arranged higgedly piggledly. More disturbing, for me at least, are the coloured squiggles interspersed sparsely within the text, which look for all the world like proof correction marks!

Despite these design aberrations, which may be a feature of the series, the book should prove a useful guide to the marine life of the South China Sea.

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