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on 22 May 2017
Comprehensive, accurate and mostly clear. A good handy size for a field guide and benefiting from a plastic jacket. Many pretty photos, though also a few murky and indistinct ones, despite all the flannel about using the best photographic equipment. My second grumble is about the sizing. Because the images are photographic, the eye naturally compares a photo with its neighbour and judges the size accordingly. However there is no logic to how the editors have chosen to size the subject in relation to the frame, so one shell (for example) is shown 5 times the size of its near relative even when it is actually much smaller. This problem would be alleviated if each page was standardised for scale, or a scale was printed on every image, as is often done in guides. Instead one has to look in the text to find the size measurements, which rather negates the visual benefit of photographic searching.
Distribution maps are a good idea but when the whole of the British Isles is shown 1cm tall, there is again an issue of scale. Within those solid-looking red lines, occurences of the species in question can be very scattered. Probably there is little value in these maps when they give no detail on the 20km - 50km scale.
The line drawings given on some pages are useful even though small, the book would have benefited from more of them to complement the photos.
Apart from the limitations described above, the guide is clearly laid out and attractively produced, it packs a lot in to a manageable format and I think I'll find it interesting and useful.
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on 6 April 2018
Bought this as I am a marine science student in the west coast of Scotland and I can’t recommend it enough! Lovely pictures, explanations and Latin names of organisms!
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on 30 March 2018
Very good condition, well worth the money!!
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on 22 May 2015
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on 28 June 2001
This book contains good quality photos of a large number of the marine species that may be found around our coasts. It is an ideal identification guide for divers, snorkellers and naturalists.The book focuses on indentification and gives only a brief description of the habits and ecology of each species. Listed in the book are many of the species that are typically seen whilst diving U.K. waters. All in all it is a very useful guide.
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on 18 October 2001
Its pretty cover will undoubtedly sell it to the unsuspecting public, and at first sight it appears to be just what divers need - a photographic identification guide, with an easy to follow layout, species photos, notes, key identification features and distribution maps. Unfortunately, this book doesn't live up to its promise, and the more you examine it the less trustworthy it proves.
After only a quick flick through the pictures we found at least a dozen glaring errors where the photos used to illustrate easily recognised species were of a completely different species (examples: the football seasquirt Diazona violacea, sponge Raspailia hispida, sea gooseberry Pleurobrachia pileus, sea cucumber Neopentadactyla mixta and seaweed Scytosiphon lomentaria) and there was even one image used more than once to illustrate different species! A more detailed look at the guide, including testing it during a marine taxanomic workshop involving experts from all over the UK and Ireland, revealed many more errors. Many of the distribution maps are inaccurate, and for a book that claims to cover the area from the Bay of Biscay to Norway, it has a distinctly southern bias. Many common and easily identified northern British species are missing, even the lumpsucker. Yet they include the southern seaslug Hypselodoris messinensis, which doesn't occur in Britain as far as we know. And have the authors got something against Wales - what about the seafans and many other southern and western species which occur in Pembrokeshire?
The authors have used a mixture of new and out-of-date scientific names, and many common names have been omitted - why they didnt stick to 'industry standards' set in the Marine Conservation Society's Species Directory? While many of the photos are good, others are too poor for identification purposes (notably many of the seaweeds), and many (dead?) specimens are photographed against a sandy background, giving the wrong impression of their natural habitat.
Amateur naturalists and students studying marine biology cannot put their trust in this guide as it is. Will Oxford University Press withdraw this edition from the shelves until a second and substantially more trustworthy edition is produced? - I doubt it.
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on 28 October 2001
I have identified and recorded marine molluscs for 20+ years, mainly as an amateur, so I was pleased to see a new photo marine ID book. The layout is good; but that is the only positive aspect of the book. I list points concerning the mollusc section.
1. The book says species are mostly illustrated in their natural habitat - at least 15 species are in the wrong habitat eg p. 279 Lasaea 'rubra', and others are misleading.
2. The nomenclature is out of date - the Species Directory (published 1997 by Ulster Museum/Marine Conservation Society) is the accepted version by most professionals.
3. Some of the distribution maps are wrong eg p.237 Osilinus lineatus (which is a widely known species).
4.The drawings are cursory and add little eg p. 237 Gibbula umbilicalis.
5. The text is inaccurate in places eg under Barleeia unifasciata - Assiminea grayana occurs in Ireland; under Hydrobia ulvae - ventrosa and neglecta CANNOT be separated by shell characters
6. The quality of the photos is very poor in places eg p. 243 Rissoa parva
7. The worst aspect of the book is the high level of inaccuracy in the identifications. 18 of the mollusc photos are incorrectly identified (nearly 15%) eg. all photos on pages 249 and 267 are wrong! Experts in other groups have also found inaccuracies of identification.
This book is supposed be a identification guide. It is therefore unacceptable, and a considerable disappointment, to have such a high level of inaccuracy.
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on 4 July 2003
A beautifully illustrated book with many of the common intertidal and sublittoral species represented. This book gives a little information about the biology and distributions of covered organisms. However identification mainly relies on photographs, without the use of keys. A good book for anyone interested in the organisms of the seashore, but for detailed and certain identification the keen biologist may require a more in depth approach.
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on 26 October 2001
I am interested in sea and shore life but I need a book which is easy to use, one that I can understand and which actually does help me identify what I see. We keep a copy on our boat and thanks to the photographs I have "discovered" new jellyfish and crabs.This book made me want to learn more about the wealth under our keel and on the shore when we reach harbour. Congratulations to the trio responsible for this quality guide.
Mary Reed
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on 2 February 2002
Whilst I may not be able to substantiate the biological accuracy of this book I found it hugely enjoyable to use.
I dive frequently in the waters around the UK, this book has shown me much of the wealth and diversity of our local sealife. Many people imagine that our compared to the great barrier reef there is relativly nothing to see.
The format was clear and easy to use. Photatgraphs were wonderful, too many times have I had identification books with little line drawing that were just dull to look at.
In my opinion this book may be lacking in some areas but for a non biologist it provides a great entry into the underwater world of life.
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