Chat is your opportunity to have your say, and to get answers.
requests and comments are included here so that others may be assisted.
me with you comments, or requests.
Judy Mellowes from Sydney
Hi Peter, We spend a
couple of weeks a year in the Whitsunday Islands and do a lot of snorkelling.
The trouble is that we are completely ignorant at identifying the fish
that we see. I have Michael Aw's "Tropical Reef Fishes" but want
a somewhat more comprehensive as well as a more localised book. I thought
of "Australian Sea Fishes N 30 Degrees S". What do you think? This time
we took 2 children who were very excited at the fish that they were
Your confusion is understandable.
You need to consider first the general latitudes of the area you re considering
- temperate waters (basically below Byron Bay), and tropical (above Byron
Bay). Within these very large regions there is a wide distribution further
encouraged by water temperature and habitat. The Whitsunday Islands are
in tropical waters
and as there is some overlap
between temperate and tropical regions, you will find a few temperate water
species there also.
You want something that
is relevant to the Whitsundays, and is easy to use. There is no book that
is specifically 'fishes of the Whitsunday Islands' - you need to look for
a more general book on tropical species. This can be rather frustrating
as many of the fishes found on the barrier reef are not represented in
the closer-to-shore islands of the
Whitsundays. You also need
to consider the physical dimensions of the book - perhaps you are travelling
around and need to go for lightwight (such as Michael Aw's book), or size
may not matter if left permanently on a yacht. Let me make the following
Grants Guide to Fishes.
Somewhat of an authoritive 'bible' on the subject, and will cover all that
you need, but is a bit of an overkill for you, and it includes temperate
Australian Fishes North
30o South by Coleman, is perhaps the one you want, as you indicate.
It is not as omprehensive as some of the other 'tropical fish' books which
I shall list, but it does cover the main species that you will find in
the Whitsundays, and the photos are large, half A4 page, so that makes
it good for the kids. It is also hardcover, and a good price. It is a large
A4 size hardcover book. I think if space is not a consideration, this is
Guide to Sea Fishes
by Kuiter is very comprehensive, and includes temperate waters. It is perhaps
the most popular of the Australian fish identification books.
Coral Sea Reef Guide
Halstead is a possibility, as it is tropical of course, and well presented.
There may well be some minor species that exist in the Whitsundays but
are not foun in the Coral Sea.
I'd also consider purchasing
an identification plate, guide to reef fish of Australia. This can
be left on deck and even taken snorkelling and is useful for an immediate
identification of most species you would encounter. These are great also
for the kids to search for and find various species whilst snorkelling.
Hanus from Connecticut, USA said G'day and asked:
would like to know if you could recommend some books to use for references
of marine life on the
Barrier Reef and Papua New Guinea. I will be in Australia for a month diving
in both of these
I have looked at your list of books and there are so many that sound interesting,
I could not decide.
in doubt I like to ask the experts. Are there any that you like for reference?
I would appreciate
help you could give me.Thanks.
are, as you have noted, quite a number of books that cover the Great Barrier
Reef, and PNG, marine life. Perhaps the best is a book that is very soon
to come on the market called Coral Sea Reef Guide by Bob Halsread - one
of the IKAN series of books. This is an excellent book. An alternative,
and also an excellent book, is the Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide
by Allen and Steene. The new edition has a vinyl cover which makes it rather
study for carry on a trip). The Tom Byron dive guides are also a great
help and cover the dive sites. Hope this has been of some help. Have a
great trip to Australia.
Vallario from Petersham, NSW asked:
Peter. I am after a book of fish and coral species what do you recommend?
I have been diving in the south pacific areas cook island, Vanuatu, Fiji
etc. its frustrating when you go on a excellent dive and you can't identify
the fish or coral that you have seen?
Anthony. There are several books that would fit your requirements, but
I suggest the best overall book - if we are talking tropical species -
is the Coral Sea Reef Guide. This is one of the excellent IKAN series of
books. I have seen a preliminary copy and it is excellent, covering all
including fishes, in one excelent volume. The Indo Pacific Coral
Reef Guide by Dr Gerald Allen and Roger Steeene is also an excellent book
covering the range of species that you require.
Porter from the USA wrote:
will be visiting Sydney in late April and will be doing some diving. Can
you recommend one of the wreck books particularly for wrecks around the
Sydney area, with emphasis on diving on them? Locations, short history,
depths, etc. is what I am looking for. Thanks,
Sydney wrecks - and diving them - the best books are Tom Byron's Diving
guides - North Coast New South Wales and South Coast NSW. You will need
both if you dive both the north and south sides of Port Jackson. They cover
the wrecks in the area exceptionally. well. My Dive Australia is excellent
for an overall view of diving in Australia. Tom's books are better for
detailed dive site information. Most of the dive shops in Sydney have these
Neale of Queensland asked:
Can you help me find a book on Hard Hats
- mainly and indentification one with lots of pictures, also Mike Hatchers
book on The Nanking Cargo.Sally,
best book on hard hats is Helmets of the Deep by Leon Lyons - but hold
on to your seat - the last one I sold was for $580 - thats right - five
hundred and eighty dollars. I think it would be the same if indeed there
are any more copies left, but I know the author so should be able to get
one in. Needless to say, I do not keep it in stock, although have sold
about half a dozen over the years. It is the definitive work on hard hats,
cataloguing most of the types in the world - even our Austalian-made unit.
If you want one, let me know.
is also "20,000 Jobs Under the Sea" - A History of Underater Engineering
by Torrance Parker - that retails for $166. He is an American salvage and
underwater construction engineer.
excellent book that you should try to obtain is Deep Diving and Submarine
Activities by Robert Davis. (He was chairman of Siebe Gorman & Co).
This is a fascinating book, and covers much on the history of diving up
to and including the hard hat (standard dress) period. It is now well out
of print, and although a reprint was done by Siebe Gorman several years
ago, I think these have all gone also. Expect to pay upward of $300 for
a copy, depending on condition and edition. I have a copy of the sixth
edition, 1955, for $400. Excellent condition with dust jacket intact. God
copies are very hard to find, but you could always be lucky in a second-hand
will always find mention of standard dress in any book that covers the
history of diving. One of the best books on the subject is Man and the
Underwater World by Latill and Revoire. This is to my mind the best book
on the history of diving, but like so many good books, it is out of print.
Copies do crop up now and then. Expect to pay upward of $80-$100.
is also a book called A Pictorial History of Diving edited by Arthur Bachrach,
which retails for $96 US dollars - that makes it about $160 in Australia.
It is a good book but I do not think that it is worth the cost as the text
is limited - I personally need to know more about the equipment that it
features. But I have sold quite a few and can get it in if you like.
for the Nanking Cargo by Mike hatcher - sorry, but this is well out of
print. Second-hand copies sell for around $50 depending on codition - but
you may be lucky to find a cheaper copy in a secondhand book shop. If you
are interested in salvage, particularly of Asian porcelain, see Dorian
Ball's book The Diana Adventure - much of the same thing as Hatcher's discovery
of the Nanking. In fact, Ball was with Hatcher on the Nanking expedition.
Joan Berger of New York wrote: Could you tell me the titles of other
books by Helmut Debelius or others he might have co-written?
for your enquiry, and kind comment on our web site. I have four books by
Helmut Debelius, all in stock (and all in English). Three of these are
on our web site under Marine Life: INDIAN OCEAN TROPICAL FISH GUIDE SOUTHEAST
ASIA TROPICAL FISH GUIDE (with Rudi Kuiter) NUDIBRANCHS AND SEA SNAILS
INDO-PACIFIC FIELD GUIDE I received a fourth book only a few days ago,
called COLOURFUL LITTLE REEF FISHES - by Helmut Debelius. Despite it rather
pathetic title (I wish publishers would talk with distributors before naming
their books), it is an excellent book covering just what the title suggests
- the small reef fishes such as the Basslets, Hawkfish, Cardinals, Damselfish,
Blennies, Gobies etc. It is directed predominantly toward the aquarium
keeper, and is not in the same series as the other three books, but is
still harcover, full colour, about same size. Cost is $19.00 (Australian).
To work out your approximate cost in US dollars, multiply by say .75 ie
three quarters of the Australian dollar. (If you pay by Visa or mastercard,
the exchange rate is worked out automatically as per the day of the transaction.
If you pay by bank draft in Australian dollars, the bank will work it out
on the day. You can send a personal cheque in US dollars if you like, but
add a further $5.00 US dollars as we get slugged for bank charges on this
one). It takes about a week to get the books airmail (at the most) and
about six to eight weeks by seamail. There is also economy airmail which
takes anywhere from a week ot two weeks so I am told. Cost for postage:
Two books and packing comes to two kilos which is $25.00 by seamail, $33.00
by economy airmail, and $45 airmail - all Australian dollars, so multiply
by .75. Rudi Kuiter was in my office the other day, and I understand he
is doing a book on fishes of Bali with a Japanese photographer. Rudi is
a superb photographer and icthyologist and an electronics genius. We go
back many years. Helmut is working on a new title ATLANTIC OCEAN fish guide.
Not sure when this will be released, but I shall aacept any queries and
Middleton from Australian Capital Territory asked, What does Subsea
Manned Engineering and The Underwater Investigator have in terms of recovery,
particularly with the theory of recovery equipment, esp. buoyancy?
am not sure of you mean recovery in the sence of rescue, or recovery in
regard to items and bodies. Lets take the latter one first, as you do mention
The Underwater Investigator. If it is body and item recovery that you are
interested in, the Encyclopedia of Underwater Investigations is proably
your best bet. It is by the same author as The Underwayer Investigator
(Robert Teather of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). It has sold well
here to police recovery units so it must have something going for it. It
covers body recovery, investigations of deathfirearms recovery, aircraft
recovery, vehicle recovery, types of evidenc, collection and preservation
physical evidence. It is not strong on actual equipment - more on technique
of recovery, and on deceased persons and remains. It is a serious publication
for the professional diver but it is not for the squeamish. The Underwater
Investigator covers much of the same topics as The Encyclopedia of Underwater
Investigations, but in lesser detail and without the photographs. The Encyclopedia
is more for the professional recovery diver (police search and rescue,
military, navy) whilst The Underwater Investigator should be compulsive
reading for all dive masters and instructors. Subsea Manned Engineering
does not cover the above mentioned topics, and concerns itself more with
oil rig diving, underwater habitats, submersible chambers and open bell,
submersible vehicles, submarines. one-atmosphere diving systems, life-support
systems, commercial diving equipment, underwater work (welding and repairs),
and test chambers. It is not strong on recovery, if we mean rescue from
depths. The Commercial Diving Manual by Larn and Whistler has a section
on diving emergencies. The Professional Divers handbook (editor David Sisman
has ten pages on rescue, centering on the proceedure to be abopted in British
and Gulf of Mexico waters. Of course, most of the books on amateur (scuba)
diving cover rescue to a greater extent, generally surface and shallow
Carruthers of Vancouver, Canada asked:
Do you have any specific recommendations
for fish identification books for the Coral Sea?
identification books on the fish of the coral sea, there is one book that
I highly recommend. FISHES OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF AND CORAL SEA by John
Randell, Dr. Gerald R. Allen, and Roger Steene, is a superb book, full
colour, large format, hardcover, some 400 pages. Having said that, it is
out of print, but due back in print later this year. There are other excellent
titles that could be considered. SOUTH EAST ASIA TROPICAL FISH GUIDE by
Rudie Kuiter and Helmet Debelius is excellent, a smaller book of 320 pages,
hardcover and in full colour. To some extent this is a better book that
Fishes of the GBR and Coral Sea, in that it covers the juvenile species
much better. But I am told that the new edition of Fishes of the GBR and
Coral Sea has a new section on juveniles. Neville Coleman's AUSTRALIAN
SEA FISHES NORTH OF 30o SOUTH was a popular book for northern Australian
species but has been surpassed by the other two books mentioned, and is
now out of print anyway. Rudie Kuiter's GUIDE TO SEA FISHES OF AUSTRALIA
is at the moment the most popular book for species identification. It includes
some 950 temperate and tropical sea species, so may not be what you are
looking for. If I were you, I would wait till Fishes of the GBR and Coral
Sea is released. If you would like a copy as soon as it comes out, place
you order within the next month or so. I have no price as yet, but the
last edition was $69.95 Australian dollars. I don't expect it to be higher
than that, but I really am not sure.
Armstrong wrote: How do you rate Helmut Debelius' book Nudibranchs and
Sea Snails against Neville Coleman's Nudibranchs of the South Pacific?
is really no comparison. Helmut Debelius Nudibranchs and Sea Snails
is quite the definitive guide, with over one thousand excellent photographs
covering species from the Red Sea to South Africa, across the Indian Oceans,
the western and eastern Pacific. Not only is the book exceptionally well
produced, in hardcover on art gloss paper, but the text is excellent covering
natural history of the subclass Opisthobranchia and a an excellent
description of the subsequent orders and families. This is truly a remarkable
book and deserves the title of ‘bible' - perhaps ‘encyclopaedia' would
be a better description as the 320 full colour pages with over 1000 photographs
covers the orders of sea hares, headshield slugs, sidegill slugs, sap-sucking
slugs and of course the ‘true sea slugs', nudibranchia. The photographs
are extremely clear, all with species in their natural habitat of course,
and with sufficient text to describe the animal. Additional subtopics include
symbiosis, carnivores, attack methods, interspecies aggression and ‘sex
on the reef'. At the other end of the scale, in price but certainly not
quality, is Neville Coleman's Nudibranchs of the Southern Pacific.
As a basic introduction this colourful book fills the bill admirably. The
introduction covers the natural history of the ‘nudibranch' in sufficient
detail to appreciate the 200 or so colour photographs of the species that
follow. The photographs are clear, the text limited but sufficient for
identification, giving scientific name, food, depth, location, and an occurance
‘rating'. As would be expected by its size, Coleman's book is no match
for the detail provided by Debelius. Sea Slugs of Western Australia
by Wells Bryce is a good compromise at $29.95. Nudibranchs contribute to
fifty percent of the book and as there is a wealth of literature on the
Order, particularly Australian species. Despite its parochial title, many
species are indigenous to the Indo-Pacific region, covering two hundred
species of the Opisthobranchs living in the seas of Western Australia (Indian
Ocean) and ‘in neighbouring regions'. Two other titles to consider are
Coast Nudibranchs by David Behrens, and Nudibranchs of South Africa
by Terrence Gosliner.
Life - Nudibranchs
Blanc wrote: Do you have any information on the history of diving? Like
who started it and why?
of the best books on the history of diving are out of print, but you may
be able to find a copy at a secondhand book store, or let us know and we
will look out for you. My favourite is
Man and the Underwater World,
by Pierre de Latil and Jean Rivoire. It was published in 1956 by Jarrolds
Publishers (London). (The original French version came out two years earlier).
It is generally hard to find. A more recent book is by Robert Marx called
Dared the Deep. It was published in 1968 by Pelham Books of London.
Both the above books may also have been published in the USA but I am unaware
of the publisher, if any. We have (had!!) several books in stock that cover
the history of diving. See the
Pictorial History of Diving (A$155);
and Deep Diving and Submarine Activities (A$295). Quite a
few general instruction texts also have chapters on the history of diving.
See our section on History of Diving.
We would be interested in purchasing the above books if you have pre-loved
BOOK NOTES &
would appreciate knowing the whereabouts of one, Jansen Kane, formely of
the now defunct by apparent bankrupt Aqua SportsYagoona. It is a shame
that this well-known Sydney dive shop has closed its doors,as it had several
exceptional operators in the past.
to the BBCand ABC for the brilliant documentary SOUTHERN SEAS, part of
the Wild Australia series.Superbly shot, superbly written, superbly narrated
by Matt Day,covering Ningaloo, Shark Bay, southern Australia and New Zealand
- and nothing on the GBR for a change. Central coast WA is surely a divers
paradise,oneof the best-kept secrets.
congratulations to Chris Holden for quitting his nine-to-five job, getting
a life, and publishing THE ESSENTIAL UNDERWATER GUIDE TO NORTH WALES. (Volume
One: Barmouth toSouth Stack). Okay, not every Aussie diver is going to
have this on their bookshelf, but if anyone in the UK, and indeed the world
requires a copyof this excellent book contact Chris direct at Calgo
of the Grand Master's of Australian diving, Wally Gibbons, has passed away.
He collapsed at his home around mid-day on Saturday, 12 August, and died
several hours later at the Coffs Harbour Hospital.
Wally was involved in the
early days of diving in Australia and had several succesful forays into
salvage of war-time wrecks, particularly in the Solomons. His passing will
be felt by all divers.
I have spoken to Martin Goman about a reprint of The Fishes
of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide, by Gomon,
Glover, & Kuiter (1994). He advises that negotiatons are underway to
have the book reprinted but if even if these are successful, it could be
at least two years before we see a result.
are frequently asked for a copy of Dakin's AUSTRALIAN SEASHORES. This is
well out of print but second-hand copies are available. It is important
to note that there were several editions of the book - the important thing
to remember is that the 1987+ editions were in large format with full ccolour
photographs. The text however is still the same. For further information
see Australian Seashores
in our Marine Books section.