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Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: West Coast

Steve N. G. Howell & Brian L. Sullivan

Paperback  2015
56 pp,  5 x 8, 
300+ colour photos, 
1 map,
ISBN: 9780691166131,
eBook ISBN: 9781400865970
Princeton University Press

Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: East Coast

Steve N. G. Howell & Brian L. Sullivan

Paperback, 2015
64 pp, 5 x 8,
120 colour photos,
ISBN: 9780691166216,
eBook ISBN: 9781400874033,
Princeton University Press

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51KMAiJw1zL.jpg

Steve Howell, an international bird tour leader with WINGS and a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, has teamed up with one of the most respected bird photographers in America, Brian Sullivan, who is eBird project leader and photographic editor for Birds of North America Online at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Together they have created two offshore wildlife guides, one for each coast of the United States. They are the first state-of-the-art pocket guides to pelagic sea life and are designed to be used during day trips in offshore waters. As such, they concentrate on the species seen on whale watching and birding trips off the US coasts.

The informative text highlights what to look for and is suitable for beginners and experts alike.  The carefully crafted colour plates show species as they typically appear at sea. The material is organised in such a way as to help identify species by age and sex that are likely to be seen together as they might be while feeding. They do not include coastal birds like most gulls, terns, and cormorants or inland waterways species like harbour seals and otters. They cover a few of the rarer species but not in great depth.

The West Coast edition

covers Washington to California waters and features:

·         More than 300 photos used to create composite plates

·         Includes whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds, sharks, turtles, flyingfish, jellyfish, molas, and more

Download a sample West Coast chapter (the informative introduction), here. http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10465.pdf

The East Coast edition

covers Maine to Florida and features: 

·         More than 100 colour photos and composite plates

·         Includes whales, dolphins, birds, sharks, billfish, turtles, flyingfish, seaweeds, sea skaters, jellyfish and more

Download a sample East Coast chapter (the informative introduction) here. http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10651.pdf

Perhaps the only drawback is that the design of the books makes it difficult to discern one composite plate from another on some pages.  I found it confusing when trying to read across a spread and link the text on the left with the photo on the right when that image blended together with three other images next to it, all of them composed from multiple images.  Perhaps a future edition will separate the images enough to make them clearly distinct from one another.

On the other hand, I really appreciated the composite photos that show different features of sexes next to each other, and the differences between adult and juvenile species.  I also liked seeing the different indicators of what a whale may be doing when you see a certain display, and birds in flight as well as on the water.  These authors clearly have a treasure trove of amazing photos and we are delighted they shared them with us in this useful pelagic cruising guidebook.  

These are not comprehensive guides but rather identification aids.  They would be handy to keep on deck to look up what you see quickly. Good for those times while crossing oceans when the rare brief glimpse allows you into the natural world. 

Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: West Coast

Amazon US
Print Edition

Amazon US
Kindle Editiion

Amazon UK
Print Edition

Amazon UK
Kindle Edition

Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: East Coast

Amazon US
Print Edition

Amazon US
Kindle Edition

Amazon UK
Print Edition

Amazon UK
Kindle Edition

 

 


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