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on 30 August 2006
If I had to choose just one dive field guide among the many available today I'd have no hesitation in picking this one. 1.200 tropical marine species worldwide from the Red Sea to the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean, 1.300 absolutely spectacular color photographs, generally pleasant and highly informative texts, a handful of easily accessible in-depth essays on fish behaviour (such as "Camouflage", "Symbiosis" or "Group Strategies"), several simply wonderful and imaginative color photogalleries clearly aimed at improving the reader's U/W camera skills (look at those amazing Scorpionfish or Frogfish faces!) - all packed up in 480 photo-packed glossy pages, covering all sorts of stuff from big sharks to wildly colorful reef fishes and from tiny shrimps to dolphins and whales. Fairly small size makes the book quite handy for field use on beaches or dive boats, and the robust hardcover with reinforced stitching will allow it to survive years of abuse - what else can a diver, an avid U/W shutterbug or a snorkeller bound for tropical seas ask from life? Highly recommended to all, seasoned old crocs and starters alike - it's from the same authors of the wonderful A DIVER'S GUIDE TO UNDERWATER MALAYSIA MACROLIFE.
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on 6 June 2007
I am the British owner and operator of a scuba-diving company in Bali, Indonesia and we have several copies of this book available for dive staff and divers to use as reference.

That said, this is more than simply a 'reference' book. I don't think I've ever opened it to look for one particular fish/nudi/whatever and not found myself flipping through the pages. They've even included Mola-Mola (Oceanic sunfish)!

The pictures are well-shot and very clear, whereas in some "ID" books the photos are a little unappealing.

The info for each entry is succinct and useful. The "zoom" pages are informative and, while there's no 'dumbing down', are relatively easily understood by people's whose first language is not English which is useful for us.

No book can be all things to all people but an indication of how frequently the books are used for reference is that we have had to get them rebound several times. (Nothing against the quality of production, they're good quality books!)

If you're particularly "into", say, nudis, then buy a nudi book but as an overall ID book, with a fair amount of extra info thrown in, I'd recommend this.

A quick survey of my dive staff produced comments that included "very good - please buy more!" to "extra-emely useful".
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on 18 June 2007
ANDREA AND ANTONELLA FERRARI have spent years amassing the photographs and information contained in A Diver's Guide to Reef Life, and it shows.

With 1200 tropical species, ranging from coral polyps, gorgonians, sea squirts, sponges, nudibranchs and all of the main fish groups, this is a truly comprehensive work, and probably the only reef guide most divers will need to take with them on a trip.

Covering the Red Sea, Indo-Pacific and many Caribbean species, the book comes in a handy, almost square format with just three species per page, allowing good-sized images of high quality.

The authors describe each species carefully, and where possible give information on behaviour to assist with identification. For example, the reader learns that the orangeband surgeonfish (Acanthurus olivaceus) "can switch its main body colour from dark olive to tan to dark blue in seconds" and that there are 40 different species of triggerfish. One section shows juvenile specimens of some of the commonest fish, demonstrating how unlike their adult forms they can be.

Photographically, Reef Life is excellent, with every shot a genuinely representative view of the animal or fish described. The book also contains a good general introduction to coral-reef ecology, and titbits of information are spread throughout the text: "94 million tonnes of fish are now taken globally each year, compared to 19 million tonnes in 1950."

The Ferraris also produced the Macrolife Guide to Underwater Malaysia, in my opinion the best of its kind. Now they have created an indispensable companion volume that will serve every diver well.

Tim Ecott is the author of Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World
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I have to commence by saying that the photography in this book is quite excellent. But that is all. It is not "The Dive Guide to have" it not even "A Leading Guide." It is certainly not an "Awesome book for any diver!" WHY? Because there are far too many errors and the product cannot, therefore, be trusted. Far too many creatures are wrongly identified.

Yes, Andrea & Antonella Ferrari are excellent photographers but during the past 9 years in which they have been photographing the underwater world, they have not learned enough about the creatures that have become their subjects. There is far more to Marine Biology than taking a photo and looking up the fish in a book!

In short, the authors of this book do not appear to have any of the qualifications, knowledge or experience required to produce a so-called definitive guide to over 1,200 world-wide marine species.

Having found mistakes, I got the distinct impression this book was simply a collection of their own surplus photographs - good though they may be.

In short, if you are diving and you see something which is also found in this book, you will have to check that identification with a more reliable source before committing either common name or Latin name to your logbook.

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on 4 June 2014
This odd shaped book (6.5 x 7.25inches) should have been at least 6 x 9.25 inches and this coupled with the odd sections entitled gallery and zoom make it virtually meaningless.
1300 pictures illustrate 1200 species divided as follows-corals,cartilagenous fish,bony fish,crustaceans,cephalopods,reptiles and mammals.
For each species is given size,distribution,habitat,habits,plus common and scientific names.
There is an index for both types of names and very poor maps inside front and back covers.
Not recommended.
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on 1 September 2006
"A Diver's Guide to Reef Life" is another excellent production from Andrea and Antonella Ferrari. Anyone who enjoyed their 2003 publication: "Underwater Malaysia - Macrolife", will know the high level of quality these authors achieve. Although notionally focused (through the title) on Malaysia, this earlier book effectively served a much wider coverage, describing in detail some 600 species of the Indo-Pacific region. The latest book provides a splendid complement as it addresses an extensive variety of 1200 species on a worldwide basis. While it is an excellent guide it also has the attraction of top class photography combined with an informative, interesting, and thought-provoking text. All this makes it compulsive to browse through and, with its range, it also delivers a fascinating perspective of marine life on global scale. While there are plenty of publications on marine life, these two by the Ferraris are special and can be wholeheartedly recommended. Central to studying and successfully photographing marine life it its natural environment, is the art of seeing. These books provide a wonderful yet structured insight for raising the awareness of this art.
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on 20 April 2007
A Diver's Guide to Reef Life is an amazing reference guide detailing 1200 tropical species from the Caribbean to the Indo-Pacific. With over 1300 eye-popping photos, the book covers everything from corals to mammals, from reptiles to bony fish. More than just a photo album with lots of pretty pictures, the Ferraris write with as much authority on the skeletal components of coral polyps, for example, as they do on a shark's countershading. If you can rip yourself away from the crazy kaleidoscope of images, you'll find the engaging text to thoroughly yet concisely explain how cnidoblasts inject their nematocysts; what influences a coral colony's structure; and how calcareous spicules support soft corals. Don't worry if you don't know all the jargon before you crack the spine of this fabulous book. The Ferraris explain everything, and after spending a few minutes with A Diver's Guide, you'll understand plenty.

After a brief introduction that explains what a coral reef is and how you can protect it, the book sinks its teeth into Chondorichthyes -- cartilagionous fishes that include sharks and rays. Throughout the book, each creature profiled gets a snapshot and a detailed description that includes distribution, size, habitat, and "life habits." Thoughtfully, the Ferraris also provide underwater photo tips specific to many of the families, so you can come home with photos as brilliant as those in the book. After cartilagionous fishes, the Ferraris detail bony fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods, reptiles, and mammals. They even cover the "topside reef" and discuss some of the animals lurking along the sandy shoreline outside your dive lodge.

The Ferraris decided to throw in some bonus sections, as well. One of the sections, "Zoom," spotlights a general group of animals, or a certain technique that groups of animals have adopted (think: camouflage or schooling). Other sections, like the "Galleries," are fan-tabulous photo essays featuring, for example, hard corals, sponges, sea squirts, sea shells, flatworms, nudibranchs, and the super-intriguing "Strange Reef Creatures." These Galleries strip away the textual descriptions of the animals and provide luscious eye-candy showcasing the color variations found among species (I LOVED the scorpionfish headshots!). The colors are so rich and the details are so amazing in these photos, that you'll wonder if this is a taxonomic guide or an underwater photography how-to. Oh...that's right...it's both!

Underwater photographers will find A Diver's Guide useful for several reasons. First, the photo tips the Ferraris include should help divers increase the quality and size of their personal portfolios. Second, even only a few minutes with the book will provide the underwater photographer with an understanding of what kind of marine life is likely to be found in a given location. This doesn't just mean "in the Red Sea," though; since the Ferraris provide information about where on the reef an animal is likely to be. Third, A Diver's Guide will help photographers label their images correctly. Fourth, some of the tips -- while not directly related to imaging -- may be wise for the underwater photographer to bear in mind anyway. For example, the inexperienced photographer might be less inclined to wag a finger in front of an uncooperative pufferfish after reading that they "are quite capable of severing a human finger."

Inevitably, readers will compare A Diver's Guide to Paul Humann's Reef Fish books. While they're similar in many respects, I think A Diver's Guide is far more beautiful. Frankly, the Ferraris have produced a guidebook that's as much for browsing as it is for referencing. As proof, I submit to you my non-diving wife. As soon as she saw the book on the counter, she grabbed it, sat down, and began leafing through it. Every 20 seconds or so, she'd mutter, "Oooh, have you ever seen a [insert name of fish] before?" She was totally rapt by the images.

Sure, you could buy a local marine life guide covering the specific area you might be diving next Christmas, but no marine guide in the world will excite you with this much color, thrill you with this much variety, and fascinate you with this much information. This is an absolute must-have for any diver who has eyes and plans on using them while diving.
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on 6 June 2007
As a marine biologist as well as an author and photographer of marine life books, I am very selective in my choice of those that end up on my shelf. I am particularly critical of books with a global scope as these invariably include only a small fraction of what lives in any particular area. These books usually include only what the photographer happens to have good photographs of rather than what is important. This book is an exception as the authors have included many excellent photographs taken by others. In doing so the authors have managed to pull together 1200 of the most important and interesting species, all with concise information on distribution, habitat and behavior. No book of this kind is immune from misidentification, but this one has fewer than most. It's a keeper. For those in the w. Pacific who want to dig deeper, please also check the following: Micronesian Reef Fishes: A Field Guide for Divers and Aquarists
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on 17 September 2007
A Diver's Guide to Reef Life

Comment by Stephen Wong, Marine Wildlife Photojournalist

I used to believe that biologists (or people who knew much of science) did not make the prettiest images, while dedicated photographers were merely trying to paint aesthetic pictures but didn't know a lot about the scientific part of their subjects. I am sure the biologists could shoot extremely well but they just didn't have the time to create the pretty photos, as their time spent would be doing much research in lab and field. At the same time, wildlife photographers could be stellar ecologist but simply lack the proper background training to discuss seriously the scientific side, or the photographers could know in-depth biology on only a few subjects but not many. Gee, am I wrong! "A Diver's Guide to Reef Life" by Andrea & Antonella Ferrari has changed my stereotypic perception.

This 480-page 16cm X 18cm book delivers a wealth of scientific knowledge plus a full load of exquisite images. There must be at least 828 species (I counted) of the more encountered and diver-interested marine creatures' discussed and over 1,200 species of animals deftly composed in the book. Not only the general distribution and sizing of the subjects are talked about, the animals' individual habitats and their intrigue life habits are discussed. The ID shots for the `science' section are more than adequate as the pictures clearly show the species' colors, shapes and unique features so that viewers can immediately locate and relate to. The life habits section and the galleries (many beautiful images) are my most favorite. I am learning a lot from these two areas, plus from the underwater photo-tips that the Ferraris stated in each family introduction.

Besides the more popular diver-quested subjects, such as sharks to the jeweled pygmy seahorses, the book also covers subjects that may be of less interest to most divers, like the corals, sponges and sea squirts. Though these are not talked in-depth, the authors have used ample images to let the readers compare to what they see in their dives - a criteria for a good guide book. The Ferraris also have dedicated a small section on the dangers that the ecosystem now faces and suggested a list of `Don'ts' for everyone to help to preserve the fragile reef.

"A Diver's Guide to Reef Life" is a book that makes nature lovers learn more about the denizens of the seas and the relationships with each other. With interesting marine science balances eye-savvy images, be the book placed on the shelf for educational purposes or bringing it on dive locations for reference, I highly recommend the book for everyone and all resorts.
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