Nature Blog Network

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Book Review: Reef by Scubazoo

Reef by Scubazoo (Amazon) (5 sea stars)

Scubazoo describes themselves as "a team of professional underwater cameramen and photographers who have an intense love and appreciation of the marine world." Each page of Reef is a testament to this love and appreciation they profess to. For no other way could one have the eye for detail and patience to capture nature in its hidden glory as well as they have. They have the credentials to back it up too having filmed and shot photography for National Geographic, Discovery, the BBC as well as several T.V. stations. This team of professional SCUBA divers, photographers and videographers has compiled an edge of the couch tour of reef environments, mainly in the Southwest Pacific. Not content to provide just a coffee table conversation piece, included is a 30 minute DVD with even more pictures and video. At the current Amazon price of $26.40, all 360 pages of this marine behemoth is practically a steal!

Wonderpus photogenicus (pages 90-91)

Reef is separated into seven sections and includes a Forward by eminent marine biologist and explorer Sylvia Earle. The first section, "Scubazoo Passion" is brief and explains the explains their mission, how important the marine environment is to the team and how diving has been a life-changing experience. The following five sections highlight the animals, their adaptations and their ecology. "Seascapes" takes you on a tour of all the different types of environments from reef to rocky bottoms and sand plains to and mangroves. "Diversity" entertains us with the myriad forms of animal life found in the reef. "Survival" is split into 6 themes surrounding creatures adaptations to their environment. This is where the real meat of the book is in my opinion and could nearly stand alone as a supplement to any marine biology/ecology textbook. "Conserving Reefs" is both a photographic and narrative essay that exposes many of the devastating practices of the fishery, aquarium and poaching trades. "Reef of the World" uses detailed maps and aerial photos to describe the distribution of different types of shallow marine habitats including temperate and tropical reefs, but also mangroves, seagrass beds and kelp forests. The last section is the behind-the-scenes look at "Making Reef" where they talk about their experiences in underwater photography and the equipment they use.

Symbiosis, one of the themes of the "Survival" section (pages 268-269)

The invertebrates are very well represented here and rightly so since they make up the backbone (corals, sponges, tube-building polychaetes) of the reef ecosystem and, well, 95%+ of animal life on this planet! They make well use of macro lenses and provide exhilarating close-ups of shrimp, cephalopods, anemones and coral polyps and many others. Each picture tells a story about the natural history of the organism captured on film. From tiny fish nestled among anemone tentacles or coral polyps to sea urchins riding shotgun on the back of a crab. Accompanying each photo is description of you are seeing including the common AND scientific names or each organism.

This book will inspire people of all ages. My 2 year-old son seems enthralled by the colorful and beautiful photos chosen for this timeless collection. Even as a deep-sea biologist who has seen his share of strange and unusual sea creatures, I was continuously surprised at the behaviors and diversity captured by the Scubazoo team. The images in this post are sample pages from the Scubazoo webpage for Reef, where there are several more for your viewing pleasure. The Amazon page for Reef has a phenomenal 3 minute video clip from the accompanying DVD of marine life that worth the click alone, but I guarantee you will walk away with the book in your shopping cart!

If it is not enough, part of the proceeds of buying the book go to support the Coral Reef Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving coral reefs around the world. The same organization with our dear blogging buddy, Rick MacPherson, as the program director!

Eye'm watching you! (pages 144-145)


  1. I just had to send this to StumbleUpon. It looks like an amazing book.

  2. Thanks Mike! Its absolutely stunning. I probably would have paid $50 for it and been just as happy. I pull it out and go through the pictures with my 2 year old and even he looks impressed!


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