The Diver’s Guide to Marine Life of Britain and Ireland, by Chris Wood
Appeared in DIVER May 2019
This reference book was originally published by the Marine Conservation Society 12 years ago, and we reviewed a rebranded version in 2013. We pointed out that while it fell short of a rival reference book in numbers of species covered, the 200 species it did include were the most likely to be encountered by divers.
We also noted that it was blessed with, among other qualities, good photos and graphics and an attractive layout.
All the book’s virtues are still on display now that it is published by the ever-reliable Wild Nature Press, but this second edition is now twice the size of the original version, and really rather fine.
These days 265 individual species (plus 30 indeterminate ones) are included in the book. One of the best things about its approach is that aspects of marine life such as size (which is expressed in relation to humans), habitat, distribution, depth and conservation status are all shown using at-a-glance icons and tiny outline maps. And you don’t need to worry if you forget what the icons mean, because they’re all clearly displayed on the semi-gatefold front cover, which provides a handy bookmark. Brilliant!
Everything has been considered from the point of view of convenience for divers, from the as-you-see-them-under-water photos to the “confidence icons”, which tell you whether a species can be ID’d by sight alone, is commonly confused with other species or requires expert help. That’s useful for divers tagging their own photos.
Finally, Chris Wood is a well-respected marine biologist and his descriptions read as if they come from a well-informed fellow-diver rather than a robot, which always helps.
British-waters divers won’t go far wrong with this handsome book as their guide.
Wild Nature Press
Softback, 312pp, 15x21cm, £19.95
Review by Steve Weinman