This is a superlative field guide: comprehensive, clear and approachable. The illustrations are excellent, and include helpful examples of birds in flight, different views of marine creatures (basking shark side view and head on), whale fluke comparisons and dolphin profiles. The 11 Chapters comprise marine and coastal plants and habitats; invertebrates; sharks; rays; fish; sea turtles; crocodiles and alligators; marine and coastal birds; baleen whales; toothed whales and dolphins; and finally seals and manatee

Yale University Press, 386pp, £20 / $24  ISBN 978 0300 11328 0

rollingharbour rating: a rare and coveted 5*****

Obviously this isn’t the guide for land-based birds – you’ll still need Hallett  or Arlott to help with all those warblers, for example. But for all aspects of marine and coastal wildlife it is as thorough as you could ever wish for in a book that is readily portable. While slightly too large (8″ x 6″) and heavy for a pocket, it would be perfect for a day-bag. Convention dictates that the most enthusiastic reviews should include a couple of tiny niggles to prove a book has been read… so,  the shell section is very brief at 2 pages; and the coral section also, with some types (Mustard Hill, for example) omitted. But such an ambitious yet compact book couldn’t possibly be exhaustive. In practical terms, it has everything you could want from a Field Guide when exploring or researching this area.

Publisher’s Summary [added here to indicate the scope & depth of the book]

  • Entries on 619 coastal and ocean species including seabirds, cetaceans, fish, turtles, invertebrates, and plants
  • More than 1,100 color illustrations & 121 colour photographs
  • 452 up-to-date range maps
  • Overviews of key ecological communities, including mangroves, salt marshes, beaches, sand dunes, and coral reefs
  • Special attention to threatened and endangered species
  • Discussions of environmental issues, including such catastrophic events as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon blowout
  • Glossary
  • Excellent organizational aids for locating information quickly
To which I would add:
  • Clear text alerts for endangered / red list species
  • 12-page index (which works very well)
  • Handy front and back flaps place-markers
  • Colour-coded section divisions

To see the publisher’s UK or US webpages for the book CLICK LINK===>>>  YUP UK   or   YUP US – it can also be obtained from the other  conventional sources already mentioned in the book section of this site

Finally, a declaration of interest: Mrs rh works in the London office of YUP, so I have been consciously avoiding partiality. However this just happens to be an excellent book by any standards, so fortunately the frosty domestic fall-out from a bad crit has been easily avoided…


Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s