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on 4 February 2005
Jim Spotila's new sea turtle book has an ambitious subtitle. In the enormous and ever growing literature on marine turtles, how could any single volume be a "Complete" guide to all the fundamental aspects of their biology and conservation?
Ambitious, but successful. If one had to find a single book to give to a new entrant in the field of sea turtles - or, for that matter, to an advanced sea turtle scientist who was normally focused upon one aspect of sea turtle biology, one locality, or one research technique, this volume would be the one to choose. It succeeds well in giving a thorough, scientific, and up-to-date overview of the field.
The text of "Sea Turtles" breaks down into thirteen chapters, each with a lively or evocative title (from "The Seven Swimmers" (or should it be eight?*) to "Under the Shell;" "The Giant Mariner" to "Dreaming of Eden." The style is highly readable, with many personal anecdotes and comments, which offer both scientific insight into what turtles are all about, and also the sense of wonder and personal dedication that is the hallmark of virtually all the players in this growing field. The scope is truly global - not just literally, for there is no geographic parochialism in this book, but metaphorically also. There are not only detailed accounts of each species, but also good discussions of turtle ":phenomena" - sea turtle ancestry, turtle life cycles, population stresses, navigation, migrations, the arribada phenomenon, the pluses and minuses of head-starting, and so on.
An attractive feature of the book is the inclusion of a number of short biographies, with good photo portraits, of selected individuals who have made major contributions to sea turtle biology. Just a dozen or so had the honor to make "Spotila's list" - a challenging selection task in view of the enormous number of people now doing sea turtle work, but while many real-world winners did not make the list, there were certainly no losers included! One imagines that the Spotila laureates will include this prestigious recognition somewhere near the top of their proud achievements in the next version of their personal CVs.
The photography is superb. Many talented photographers contributed their work, and there are stunning marine turtle images on almost all of the 227 pages of this book, many of them taken underwater and revealing our shelled friends in their true medium, where they look so much more graceful, animated, and at ease than in the usual pictures of an exhausted, sand-covered, weeping turtle struggling to complete its duties on the nesting beach.
*Reviewer's comment.
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on 19 May 2006
This book is beautifully presented. If you love turtles, you will love this book. I like the way it's written - by a scientist - with a lifetime's experience of turtles - turned conservationist. Split into logical sections with 'soundbites' from workers in the field and full of easy to follow and well laid out facts. The images are fantastic too. For the money, it's great value - printed on smooth gloss art paper and beautifully bound.
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on 9 February 2011
I bought this book to help me with my dissertation (final year student of Zoology) and I've found it to be a very useful reference book. It really does what it says, "A complete guide to their biology, behaviour and conservation". I've only really used it for the evolutionary history part, but the rest really is interesting and it's definitely a book I'll keep. Absolutely stunning pictures too!
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on 13 August 2013
This excellent book is without doubt a labour of love over a long period from "Dr.Turtle"
Following chapters on life cycle,biology,history and conservation there are 7 chapters-one for each turtle-green,hawksbill,Olive Ridleys,Kemps Ridleys,loggerheads,flatbacks and leatherbacks.The turtle chapters give details of each turtle with maps and a projection of their future.
Very well written and researched with magnificient pictures and illustrations.
Highly recommended.
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on 15 April 2014
This is a very imformative book that presents a lot of scientific information in a way that doesn't isolate people with limited knowledge of scientific jargon. The photographs are stunning to look at and it made researching my second year Ecology & Conservation project for university much more enjoyable. Packaging and delivery was prompt.
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on 14 November 2013
i work in marine biology and this book is very useful as is a complete guide to the behaviour, biology and conservation of turtles
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on 16 January 2011
Having worked with Loggerhead Turtles and have met many many "experts" on the matter, I am told that Spotila is THE person to know when it comes to sea turtles.
This book is very well written and has some beautiful pictures that will make you want to fall in love with sea turtles as much as I have.

Great reference book. Have used it as part of coursework projects at university, however is in such easy and comprehendible language that even young teenagers would understand.
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