SCIENCES

The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs

Apollo. Sept. 2019. 312p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781948062220. $35. SCI
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A British diver with a doctorate in marine biology, Smith has explored and photographed coral reef communities around the world, particularly the coral-rich seas of the western Pacific Ocean known as the Coral Triangle. After explaining the basic structure and ecology of coral reefs, Smith turns to specific reef inhabitants such as nudibranchs (sea slugs), amphipods (mini-crustaceans), anemone fish (of Finding Nemo fame), and the exquisitely camouflaged pygmy seahorses. Descriptions of these creatures hardly do them justice; fortunately, there are multiple photographs of each species. Concluding with a discussion of the threats facing reef ecosystems from climate change effects—especially coral bleaching—Smith warns that many reef communities may die out before we have had a chance to find and name the unknown species living there. The author’s stunning photos bring the text to life in vivid colors; a map would have been helpful for pinpointing locations in the Coral Triangle.
VERDICT Smith vividly documents the amazing diversity of marine life associated with coral reefs and eloquently argues for their protection. Recommended for armchair travelers and reef enthusiasts.

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