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VALE - PHIL CHERICI - mate, dive buddy, father, husband.
It is with the saddest regret that I mention the passing of a fine gentleman, my dearest friend and dive buddy, Phil Cherici, on 8 August 2011. Phil was a great man in many respects, always ready to help anyone - nothing was too much trouble - and a true friend, liked by everyone who met him. Many of you knew him as a diver in Box Hill in the early eighties. Many would know him in the travel industry, especially after he joined Aquarius Dive Travel in 1982 and sent many divers to exotic dive destinations in the Pacific and South-East Asia. He was a kind and gentle man, always of good humour, who related well to all who met him -  his diving friends, clients and especially to the indiginous people of the many countries he visited  as a diver and travel agent. I could not imagine a better friend and diving partner. Phil died of complications in treatment of a rare disease, Waldenstr?m's macroglobulinaemia, an indolent (slow growing) type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which starts in the white cells of the immune system. He suffered for several years, under chemothraphy and stem-cell extraction, and only his immense physical and mental attributes allowed him to give hope that he would recover. It was not to be, and he died peacefully in a Brisbane hospital. He is survived by his wonderful wife Lorraine, and seventeen-year-old son Anton, a remarkable young man. He is sadly missed.

(Any written tributes may be sent to peter@oceans.com.au and will be passed on to Lorraine and Anton.)

"MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN go out in the mid-day sun."  So sung Noel Coward more than half a century ago. At the moment (February 2010), our English diver friends are not seeing much of the mid-day sun what with the attrocious winter that Britain and continental Europe is having. But give them their due - the sentiment of the song remains -  simply by dropping off the last four words!!! Just going outdoors in Britain is now regarded as an extreme sport, and those Brits who went to Vancouver for the  Winter Olympics went there just to get warm. 
Well, if their sanity needs to be questioned, certainly their courage and enthusiasm cannot. Here we have two of Britains most experienced divers, Phil Thurtle (black) and Ian Hill (blue) after a most pleasant dive in the freezing waters of Covenham Reservoir in Lincolnshire on Sunday 21st February 2010. Ian has been diving since 1958, and Phil since the seventies (taught by Ian, and friends ever since).  The air temperature that day was minus 2 deg C and  the water temperature was 1 deg C - yes, thats one degree centigrade. Their dry suits would have kept them reasonably warm with thermal underwear, but just getting into the gear would have been hell!! Well, not Hell, that would have been warm at least, but miserable anyway. And the poor backup diver in the red suit was of no use - his backside froze to the seawall and he had to be pried off with three kettles of hot water!! Phil and Ian have been nominated for the Blue Ball Club, previously the exclusive fraternity of Australian Antarctica research divers formed in the 1970s by the inimitable Bob Reeves.. 
It is with deep sorrow that we advise of the passing of a superb diver and a fine man. Terry Arnott passed away in Adelaide on 27 January 2007, of natural causes, possibly a heart attack. Terry was one of the 'Geelong boys', a dedicated diver and wreck enthusiast, a founding member of the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria, who went on to become a qualified maritime archaeologist heading up the Heritage Dept team in Adelaide. He will be sadly missed. On 10 March 2007, his ashes were scattered over the wreck of the City of Launceston, which he located on 1 October 1980, in Port Phillip. Our thoughts go out to Debbie, Doug and Steven. 

Eastern Biodiversity Research and Conservation Center is a small non-government organisation focused on marine biodiversity conservation research and education in South China. China has some of the most over-exploited marine life in the world yet also has some of the least marine research. China's impact, in ever way, is global and will continue to grow. How China consumes resources effects everyone. We are working hard to plant the seeds of marine biodiversity conservation here in China through research and education. We fund researchers, from around the world, to come here, study local marine life and help us educate local people and government about how vital it is to understand and protect the marine environment. Most of our money goes into funding grants for researchers and training for local students. We have some money for building a library, but not enough. Our NGO is somewhat self-funding through our small eco-lodge "Nature School" located right on the Gulf of Tonkin. Would you be interested in "trading" ocean books from this great store for a discount off a future stay at our eco-lodge? The ocean here is far from pristine, even down right filthy sometimes, but it would make a great base for exploring and understanding China and even Vietnam's marine environment. If you are a marine scientist, diver or expert in some area relevant to marine conservation we would love to give you free accommodation in exchange for hosting a workshop or training event. If you just love nature and want to see South China, please visit us.  Website: http://ebrcc.jimdo.com/       Email Mike Cline: clinegeography@yahoo.com
As divers, we get a lot of silly questions about sharks, and claustrophobia, the bends and the dangers of diving, but the most idiotic question I have heard is, "Why do scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?" It's bloody obvious isn't it. If they fell forwards they would end up on the deck of the boat!

Thinking of diving or just visiting HERVEY BAY. Have a look at Syd Tanner's website : www.herveybaydownunder.com.au     He also has a DVD for sale.

Book Chat is your opportunity to have your say, and to get answers.
Your requests and comments are included here so that others may be assisted.

Please email me with you comments, or requests.

Judy Mellowes from Sydney writes: 
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 seeing

Hello Judy,
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 comments.
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 species.
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 the one.
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 by 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.

Dave Hanus from Connecticut, USA said G'day and asked:
I would like to know if you could recommend some books to use for references of marine life on the
Great Barrier Reef and Papua New Guinea. I will be in Australia for a month diving in both of these
places. I have looked at your list of books and there are so many that sound interesting, I could not decide.
When in doubt I like to ask the experts. Are there any that you like for reference? I would appreciate
any help you could give me.Thanks.
Hello Dave,
There 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.

Anthony Vallario from Petersham, NSW asked:
Hi 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?
Hi 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 the
species 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.

Tim Porter from the USA wrote:
I 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,
For 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 books,

Sally 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,
The 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.
There 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.
An 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 bookshop.
You 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.
There 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.
As 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.

Barbara 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?
Thankyou 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 forward orders.

Jason 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?
I 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 of 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 water procedures.

Alastair Carruthers of Vancouver, Canada asked: Do you have any specific recommendations for fish identification books for the Coral Sea?
Regarding 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.

Tony Armstrong wrote: How do you rate Helmut Debelius' book Nudibranchs and Sea Snails against Neville Coleman's Nudibranchs of the South Pacific?
There 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 Pacific Coast Nudibranchs by David Behrens, and Nudibranchs of South Africa by Terrence Gosliner.
See Marine Life - Nudibranchs

Ryan Blanc wrote: Do you have any information on the history of diving? Like who started it and why?
Two 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 They 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.
Note: We would be interested in purchasing the above books if you have pre-loved copies.


We 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. 

Congratulations 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. 

And 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 Publications

VALE. One 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.

We 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.



Oceans Enterprises, 303 Commercial Road, Yarram, Vic 3971, Australia.