BENEATH THE SEA by Trevor Norton.
House, London, Sydney, 1999.
are our underwater heroes? Cousteau and Hass come readily to mind, and
to the historically educated, no doubt Gagnan, umas and Taillez, Siebe
and Davis, Rouquayrol and Denayrouze; perhaps (being rather parochial)
Ben Cropp and the Taylors.But what of the man who gave Hans Hass his first
lessons in diving, Guy Gilpatrick, or the incredible naturalists Henri
dwards and Roy Miner, the depth-defying Charles William Beebe, or the remarkable
English marine biologist and educator Jack Alwyne Kitching?
were truly remarkable pioneers of diving, setting standards and procedures
for divers to follow, opening the underwater orld to the closed minds of
the university academics who could not comprehend what they could not see.
Of Haldane, father and son, we, perhaps, know a little, for they set the
standards for breathing air at high pressures resulting in the development
of ecompression tables, and the use of a helium-oxygen breathing mix.
Underwater photographers know of the name Boutan, or at least should do
- but perhaps less so, John Ernest Williamson. Those who prefer sunken
ships, know of Robert Ballard, and perhaps Bass, Marx and Stenuit, but
what of Peter Throckmorton?
remarkable men make up ‘The Extraordinary Lives of the Pioneers of Diving',
the subtitle of Professor Trevor Norton's brilliant book. That it should
have become a best-seller and acclaimed by all who read it, Stars Beneath
the Sea owes its appeal not only in its remarkable subject matter but more
so on the succinct and eloquent style of the author, peppered with humour
and anecdote. No academic waffle here - this is fine English prose written
with wit, compassion and pride. I found it to be one of the most rewarding
books on diving I have ever read, providing relaxed entertainment with
a wealth of knowledge. It is only by appreciating the past that we can
strive for the future, and without doubt these pioneers, most of them the
quiet achievers, have influenced us in so many ways that we cannot
fully appreciate. This is no rehash of the ‘history of diving'. Norton
writes from first-hand interviews and archival records, providing original
material of immense value. In providing us with a even a glimpse of the
past, Stars Beneath the Sea is a most remarkable and enjoyable book.
SOUTHERN SEAS - The Ecology of Australia's Rocky Reefs. Edited by Neil
rocky reefs that surround a great part of our southern coastline are the
breeding grounds for the majority of offshore marine species, the beginning
of the food chain, the basis of recreational and commercial fishing, and
the playground of homo sapiens. Often these situations conflict hence the
necessity to understand and appreciate the environment so that all requirements
are sustained. For us divers, the pursuit of knowledge through books should
be a pleasurable one, with a balance of narrative detail and fine photographic
imagery. Under Southern Seas fits the bill admirably. Despite the
chapter authors being academics, this is a most readable and enjoyable
book, and the status of the authors as marine biologists provides the credibility
of the text. Add the brilliant design of Di Quick at University of NSW
Press and you have one of the finest marine life books produced in Australia.
chapters cover the general biology and coastal geography of each of the
southern states - in itself a most useful background for all divers. This
is followed by chapters on kelp forests, abalone, octopuses, jellyfish,
lobsters, sea urchins, and the sessile animals - the sponges, bryozoans
etc. How long do giant kelp live? How do abalone reproduce? (Very slowly
you may suggest). Why do jellyfish sting? Are urchins just a pain in the
leg? With such knowledge we are better able not only to enjoy our
favoured diving environment but to also be ecologically aware of the part
we play in the life of the oceans. This is not simply an identification
guide, yet it is comprehensive in its coverage of the various animals
and their habitat. Under Southern Seas will be judged along with other
great classics such as Dakin and Bennett's Australian Seashores (1952,
1987), and Edgar's Australian Marine Life (1997). Under Southern Seas is
a must read for all temperate water divers, and a credit to all those involved
in its production. Hardcover, A4 size, dust jacket, full colour, 238 pages,
by Peter Stone, Scuba Diver magazine, July/August 2000
TRAGEDIES AND TRIUMPHS OF THE BATAVIA COAST, by Max Cramer.
Cramer has had a remarkable life. As the primary discoverer of the Dutch
merchantman Batavia in the Abrolhos Islands, in 1963, he has been actively
involved in the Dutch wrecks along the Western Australian coast. His discovery
and early diving on the wrecks makes for fascinating reading as they are
a first-hand contemporary account of diving and maritime archaeology.
Cramer tells of his early days at Shark Bay, the Montebello Islands, Rowley
Shoals, hard-hat and commercial diving, treasure hunting, spearfishing,
and replica ships. The discovery and subsequent excavation of the Batavia
is covered in some detail, as are the other Dutch wrecks Gilt Dragon
(and the fascinating controversy surrounding one Alan Robinson), Zutydorp
and Zeewyk. Who indeed discovered the Gilt Dragon ? At times, Cramer's
narrative reads like a detective novel. Other shipwrecks mentioned are
the Georgette, Mayhill, Stanford, Stefana, and HMAS Sydney. These are his
memoirs, the life of a great Australian. A great read with excellent writing
and fascinating detail, particularly for anyone interested in shipwrecks
and early diving in Australia. Hardcover (laminated boards), 332 pages,
mainly mono photos and diagrams, with eight colour plates.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine. September/October 2000.
GUIDE OF THE WORLD by Helmut Debelius. Publishers: IKAN.
Helmut Debelius publishes a new guide, it's a fair bet that it will prove
to be the ultimate of its kind. In this volume the German writer/photographer
has'lovingly compiled a register of practically every shrimp, crab, lobster
and amphipod a diver could hope to encounter. Any divers who once
thought they knew a thing or two about these critters, will come to realise
the depth of their ignorance when confronted with these 321 densely-packed
pages of creepycrawlies.
each species, we get a Latin name (and a common name, where possible);
length and distribution; and general information and descriptions of the
animal's behaviour. This isn't the sort of book you can knock together
after a misspent adolescence in the Red Sea - the sheer amount of data,
matched with excellent colour images from Debelius and a cast list of world-class
photographers, means that it is a one-off. Quite simply, no one else
could have done it. Crustaceans were his first love, and this is
a book born of love (the kind of love which borders on obsessive madness).
might have the instinct of a biologist, but he is also a populist, and
makes a point of breaking up the text with features, indepth essays, and
oddities such as Lionel Pozzoli's photograph of a pair of cleaner shrimps
beavering away at Mrs Pozzoli's teeth.
we get illustrated places on moulting lobsters, the hulking Alaskan king
crab, the mangrove habitat, the red crabs of Christmas Island, and freshwater
crustaceans. Prize of place goes to the colourful tropical lobster
Enoplometopus debelius, one of the author's own discoveries. But
my favourite section is a photo-feature contributed by Bob Halstead, in
which for absolutely no reason we are treated to the sight of a mantis
shrimp, roughing up a toy dinosaur placed close to its lair by the mischievous
this book, Debelius brings the bizarre world of crustacea vividly to life,
for everyone. A fine achievement, and worthy of a place in any serious
by Simon Rogerson. Sport Diving magazine, Aug/Sept 2000
GUIDE OF THE WORLD by Helmut Debelius. One of the IKAN series.
had the pleasure of meeting Debelius last year and soon appreciated why
he is such a remarkable man. His knowledge of the marine world, coupled
with a keen eye and brilliant underwater photography skills, complement
his attitude toward perfection in all that he does. His IKAN series of
books, now numbering eight in the English language alone, have established
him not only as a brilliant author but a likewise publisher. Crustacea
Guide of the World is the latest in the series (although not for long,
with Coral Sea Reef Guide due out mid 2000). This book covers the general
shrimps, crabs, lobsters, mantis and harlequin shrimps, and amphipods,
within the regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, Red Sea, Mediterranean, Pacific
and Indian Ocean. Rarely do we dive without experiencing the pleasure of
seeing a cleaner shrimp assisting a fish or moray to performing their ablutions,
or a sponge crab trying desperately to disguise itself. And if we fail
to catch a cray scurrying across the seabed, at least we can learn more
of their biology and habitat. Like all IKAN titles, Crustacea is
a superb identification guide and reference, covering aspects of behaviour
and habitat. Hardcover, full colour, 318 pages.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine. September/October 2000
CORAL REEFS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, by Dinah and Bob Halstead, and Sergio
superb book may well have been published with the assistance of aid funding
for the International Year of the Coral Reef (1997), and the International
Year of the Oceans (1998), but the end result is more than just an ecological
awareness promotion. This is a magnificent book, very well designed, and
made exceptional by the superb photography of the three authors. Bob and
Dinah are well known to many divers who have enjoyed diving in Papua New
Guinea on their custom built diveboat Telita. The marine life illustrated
in the book is unique; the authors know how to capture a subject (as they
should with over 10,000 dives to their credit in PNG), and do it in such
a manner that the end result is a beautiful image, combining art with graphic
description. The text is concise and relevant. If you have dived anywhere
in Papua New Guinea, this is a wonderful memento. If you are into superb
photography, then it deserves a place in your library. And look at the
value. Hardcover, dust jacket, quality art paper, full colour, half and
full page photographs, 208 pages.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine, July/August 2000.
SEA REEF GUIDE by Bob Halstead. Publisher: IKAN.
Dudley is just one of the many marine creatures listed in this magnificent
reef guide; he gets a special mention as one of the interesting ‘picture
stories' scattered throughout the book. Exceptionally well laid out, the
Coral Sea Reef Guide is one of the superb IKAN series of books produced
by photographer/writer/publisher Helmut Debelius. The full colour identification
guide contains exquisite underwater photos of over 1000 marine species,
from Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands,
Vanuatu, New Caledonia - those nations that border the Coral Sea. And who
better to write and photograph such an ambitious project than Bob Halstead,
well known for his dive expeditions around PNG, and his many books and
articles. Coral Sea Reef Guide covers the fishes, corals, crustacea, snails,
mollusca, gorgonia, soft corals (not the hard corals), and anemones, cephalopods,
plants and sponges, reptiles and mammals - its all here in one hardcover
volume, the definitive guide to the marine life at the most popular dive
destinations visited by Australian divers. The book is divided into phylum
down through class and family to the individual species. The descriptive
text is concise; the colour photographs are excellent, clear and
relevant, with generally three to a page and some full page plates. Photo
locations are indicated, and the distribution of all animals. Along with
the descriptive information to identify each species, the book includes
interesting behavioural and habitat information, and twenty-four excellent
‘picture stories' such as ‘coral spawning', ‘crocodile with gills', ‘how
to catch a sea urchin', and the whimsical ‘what really happened to the
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
- The Admiralty Regrets. C. Warren & J. Benson.
have probably never heard of the Thetis, but if you have a dim recollection
of the name, may have said that she was just another submarine lost during
the second world war. Not so. The Thetis was a brand spanking new 270ft
submarine built at the Cammell Laird's shipyards at Birkenhead (England).
On 1 June 1939 (before the declaration of war), she left the Mersey and
headed out into Liverpool Bay on her sea trails - her first sea dives.
With 103 people on board, five hours later she was lying with her bow stuck
in the mud at 160 ft, and her stern protruding some thirty feet out of
the choppy seas. Four men managed to escape using the new Davis Submarine
Escape Apparatus, a small rebreather unit designed by Sir Robert Davis
at Siebe-Gorman. Others tried and died, trapped like rats in the small
escape champer. It had never been tried in a real submarine escape before.
The rest of the shipbuilding engineers and staff, and the Navy evaluation
crew, waited for rescue, which was sure to come as the stern was exposed
and clearly visible. But the attempted rescue was one of the worst bungles
in British naval history, exposing the sorry state of communications and
rivalry within the Royal Navy. The ninety-nine remaining in the submarine
died a slow death, asphyxiated as their carbon dioxide levels built up.
The death list reached one hundred when a diver in standard dress died
from the bends complicated by a lung disease. Thetis was eventually raised,
nearly five months later. It required the services of a mine rescue team
to perform the gruesome task of recovering the bodies. The submarine returned
to Birkenhead where she was refitted, renamed Thunderbolt, and went into
service against the Germans. She was sunk once again with all hands, (and
not recovered), in March 1943, by the Italian sloop Cicogna.
is a truly remarkable book, one that you will not wish to put down once
started. It tells of the suffering of the men trapped in the hull as failed
attempts were made to secure the submarine and rescue those within. It
tells of the courageous, and lucky escape, of four men, and how four others
died a horrible death. It tells of the conspiracy to hush up the true events
that took place, the buck shoving, and lack of responsibility of the Royal
Navy. And of course, it tells of how such a tragedy could have occurred
in the first place, and the subsequent successful salvage of the submarine.
Was the Admiralty more concerned about saving the submarine, rather than
rescuing the civilians and navy men on board?
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine. September/October 2000
LIFE by Denise Nielson Tackett & Larry Tackett. Publisher: Microcosm
life forms - Rare and unusual reef animals captured in their natural haunts.
Face-to-face encounters - Intimate observations from a decade of underwater
research. Biology in action - Fundamental lessons in reproduction
and other marine life processes.
in biodiversity - The fishes, invertebrates, and other animals of the coral
must-have bookfor every diver, aquarist, and underwater naturalist who
wants to slow doum and understand what he or she is seeing on the coral
reef or in the marine aquafium.
Life - Natural History and Behaviours of Marine Fishes and Invertebrates.
240 pages, over 300 colour photographs. 200mm x 250mm Soft cover.
ISBN 1-890087-56-4. For more information, contact Microcosm Ltd,
Shelburne, Vermont U&4. +1 802 985 2700. wwwmicrocosm-books.com
by Scott W. Michael. Sport Diving magazine, Aug/Sept 2000
listed as yet).
TIME: GREAT WRITERS ON DIVING. Edited by Ed, Casey and Jim Kittrell.
Writers on Diving? Hey, how come I'm not included? This excellent book
includes writers such as Peter Benchley, William Beebe, Guy Gilpatric,
Clare Boothe Luce, Hans Hass, Eugenie Clark, Bucky McMahon ("Who the hell
is Bucky McMahon?"), Michael Crichton (the Michael Crichton),
Tim Cahill, Philippe Diole and many others who have contributed to diving
or marine literature in some way. Okay, these writers are way above my
status - and that what makes this a truly great book, one of high literary
standard and a marvellous contribution to the enjoyment of diving and the
oceans. Some of the authors are Pulitzer Prize, and national Book Award
winners, scientists and adventurers, playwrights and movie makers. That
in itself may not make them great writers, but it sure gives them an opportunity
to draw on some remarkable material.
the lagoon at Rangiroa to the reefs of the Red Sea ... from deep within
caves to under the ice... from the lethal silliness of nitrogen narcosis
to the elation of soaring over unfathomable depths... every selection,
like every dive, is a unique experience." As Jean-Michel Cousteau writes,
"Divers often struggle to put their experiences into words, but here are
the voices of well-known writers who have ventured into the underwater
world. They turn diving into an journey of the mind and spirit." Cousteau
sums up Down Time beautifully. Who better to write on diving with sharks
than Michael Crichton, a master of suspense - and of course Hass and Clark
(but she writes on cave diving). This is not macho stuff - this is real
life experiences and observations by writers who know how to string two
words together. A truly remarkable book and a great credit to the editors
and publishers. It will no doubt remain a major works in the library of
the oceans for, perhaps, eternity, as it serves to document "the voices"
of so many interesting people. (Am I in the next volume? Sure - and the
meek will inherit the world).
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
LIFE OF THE GALAPAGOS, by Pierre Constant.
Guide to the Fishes, Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Animals".
Galapagos islands are remote, off Ecuador in the far eastern Pacific. It
is not a place that most of us will visit and yet it is, ecologically and
‘evolutionally' one of the most remarkable island groups in the world.
Charles Darwin postulated here and seemingly myriads of marine scientists
and naturalists have studied its unique marine life. Pierre Constant is
just one, but unlike so many authors who have produced ‘picture books'
on the islands, Constant has documented the marine life in a sensible,
and interesting, manner. From my experience with marine literature, the
blurb on the outside cover is true - ‘This book is the first marine guide
ever made on the subject'. There are a number of Galapagos picture books
on the market, but this is the first I have seen to describe the marine
life in some detail. Constant takes the opportunity to draw attention to
the threat of destruction of the islands species through commercial exploitation,
despite the Galapagos Marine Reserve being created in 1986. His dedication
of the book to the people of the Galapagos is compassionate and moving.
A simple and useful guide. Softcover, 248 pages, 216 colour photographs,
and line drawings.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
GRAND SCUTTLE, by Dan Van der Vat.
Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919".
it the ‘Truk Lagoon of the British Isles' if you like, but the loss of
shipping at Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands off Scotland is one
of the most bizarre of all wartime incidents. On 21 June 1919, the German
high Seas Fleet, one of the most formidable ever built and prime cause
for the Great War, was deliberately sent to the bottom by its own officers
and men. "The Grand Scuttle" became a folk legend in both Germany and Britain.
After all, how often does an admiral order the sinking of his own, complete,
fleet. If the scuttling was remarkable, more so was the purchase of the
fleet and the attempted raising of some of the war ships for scrap. Van
der Vat documents meticulously the reasons for this massive act of destruction
(with lesser details on the subsequent salvage), providing a remarkable
insight into German thinking at the time. Anyone interested in wreck
diving will be educated, amused and entertained by The Grand Scuttle.
If only the Germans had done it in Port Phillip!
cover, 240 pages, mono plates.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
GUIDE TO COMPOSITION, by Jim Church
Simplified Approach to Taking Better Underwater Pictures'. We all
know Jim Church for his Nikonos photography and videography books - after
all, he has been taking photographs and writing for the past thirty years,
and is quite an authority on the subject. Church's latest book fills a
gap since Howard Halls' Successful Underwater Photography, in that it concentrates
on the fundamental task of good photography - composition. Essential Guide
to Composition should take the photographer from snapshots that only the
closest members of the family will admire, to award winning images. This
a companion title to Church's very popular Essential Guide to Nikonos Systems,
although it matters not what type of camera you use. Without composition
you have a snapshot, not a photograph. Using examples from his own extensive
library, and from other photographers, Church describes the photographs
- how they were shot, and why. No book can improve the ‘perceptive eye'
of a photographer, but the adherance to a few faithrule rules - and the
adventurous breaking of these same rules - will lead to imaginative results.
Anyone even moderately serious in improving their underwater photography
would benefit from this excellent book. Softcover, 136 pages, full
colour, index, selected references.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
DARKNESS BECKONS by Martin Farr. Publisher: Diadem Books.
History and Development of Cave Diving
must be nearly twenty years ago when I straddled "The Shaft" at Mount Gambier
and helped my companions down the narrow manhole-like entrance. I didn't
dive as I had a few too many drinks the night before. No problems. The
Shaft will always be there and I could come back in a few weeks. Not so.
Next week four people died in this incredible cavern. The Shaft was closed,
and effectively remains so.
Farr mentions the tragedies in Mount Gambier when eleven people died over
five years during the infancy stage of the development of the sport in
Australia. That such tragedy has never been repeated is a credit to the
Cave Divers Association of Australia which has set high standards and stuck
The Darkness Beckons (what a brilliant title) is not about Mount Gambier.
This is about the world of cave diving, (one of the most dangerous of sporting
pursuits), by one of the world's finest cave divers. Originally published
in 1980 when it concentrated on British activities, (an extension of potholing),
it has been completely rewritten and extended to cover the international
scene - which includes France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, USA, South
Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. In fact we rate over fourteen pages,
describing predominantly the world-record feats in the Nullabor Caves.
diving has a fascination even to those of us with claustrophobic tendencies.
This is danger and daring, requiring personal and technical skill of the
highest order - the "lure and challenge of exploring the black unknown
... one of the true last frontiers remaining on the planet."
Darkness Beckons begins with The Origins, the challenge of cave diving
and the first "cave diver" back in 1777. The modern "games" commenced in
1922 when Frenchman Norbert Casteret made an incredible free-dive assault
on the Grotte de Montespan in the Pyrenees; Bob Leakey's gutsy attempt
in 1941 to tame Mossdale Caverns in Yorkshire; and Cousteau's 1946
Vaucluse dives. The use of standard gear (hard-hat) in the construction
of the Severn Tunnel is fascinating; and the subsequent development of
cave diving after Cousteau-Gagnin developed the "aqualung".
Diving in Britain and Ireland covers just on 20% of the book, so the book
can hardly be deemed excessively parochial. The International scene covers
nearly a hundred pages. This is not however a dive guide for the speleologist;
nor is it a manual of technique. Open to any page in this fascinating book
and you will be compelled to read on - of danger, of death, of intricate
preparation and frustrating delays, of men and women who seem to be obsessed,
giving truth to the bumper sticker Cave Divers Penetrate Further.
is well covered. The 1972 expedition to Weebubbie led by Ian Lewis
opened up this cave system to further exploration. Hugh Morrison's 1979-82
Cocklebiddy attempts are well documented, Hugh and his team receiving the
respect for several incredible penetrations - over six kilometres from
the main chamber entrance. Then came the French team in 1983, and the 1980-88
Pannikin Plain expeditions. Mount Gambier gets a proportionately brief
mention only as the book is centred mainly on penetration rather than depth
I couldn't put this book down. The Darkness Beckons is exceptionally well
written, non-technical, and well supported with clear diagrams and over
two hundred photographs, many in colour. Even if you have no aspirations
to be a cave diver, or are a failed example of same as I am, this book
is a must for the library. Even those poor unfortunate souls who have never
donned a mask and fins would find this book compelling. It is on
the top of the list for the best book released (in Australia) during 1993.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
LOST SHIPS OF GUADALCANAL by Robert D.Ballard with Rick Archbold.
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
loss of the heavy cruiser H.M.A.S.Canberra is only one of many Allied
and Japanese ships sent to the bottom of Ironbottom Sound in the Solomon
Islands during the Pacific War, but it is one that has particular interest
for most Australians. In several devastating attacks which destroyed such
notable American ships as the Vincennes, Quincy and Astoria during the
infamous Battle of Savo Island, Canberra did not even manage one
effective retaliating shot. She died slowly, completely disabled, listing
heavily and her Captain mortally wounded. When all wounded were evacuated,
a torpedo from the American destroyed Ellet provided the coup de grace.
was only a matter of time before the "Titanic man", Dr Robert Ballard showed
an interest in Guadalcanal. Having found and filmed the lost White Star
liner, his The Discovery of the Titanic became a best-seller, not only
as a record of his remarkable achievement, but also for the magnificent
images of the ship captured by his submersible, and the brilliant drawings
created by Ken Marschall. This was followed by The Discovery of the
Bismarck, of lesser general interest but never the less fascinating.
was a challenge for Ballard. The
Canberra, the only Australian warship
sunk in the Solomons during World War 2, was lost in over a thousand feet,
a formidable depth but one not to compare with the Titanic.
arrived in the Solomons somewhat better equipped than the regular tourist
diver. On board his ship, which incidentally was fitted with the most sophisticated
electronic equipment, were deep-tow sonar torpedoes, a remote-operated
submersible, and a three-man submarine, Sea Cliff, similar to Alvin used
on the Titanic. Ballard targeted the Canberra
(for which we are most grateful), and the American heavy cruiser Quincy
as his main objectives. Why these two? "Canberra ... bore the brunt of
the first phase of the Japanese attack.
Quincy ... put up the bravest
fight of the three cruisers .. in the second phase."
Ballard could not locate either ship on the first expedition. He returned
in July 1992 and immediately located Canberra. It now remained for
researcher Rick Archbold to research, artist Marschall to paint and local
Solomon Islands photographer Michael McCoy to add a few contemporary images.
The result is a volume equal in quality to the Titanic and Bismarck books.
board the mothership, Bert Warne, one of the survivors of the Canberra,
was asked to take the controls. Warne manoeuvred the remote camera Scorpio
over the hatch where he was stationed and narrowly escaped with his life.
After fifty years, such an emotional "reunion" is hard to conceive.
arise again when viewing the fold-out triple-spread drawing of the Canberra
as she lies on the seabed of Ironbottom Sound, perfectly upright and very
much intact. "Is that what she would really look like," a reader exclaimed.
Certainly, but due to lack of sunlight and underwater visibility, it is
only the superb images of the artist that gives the whole picture.
and drawings of the Quincy are just as impressive, as are the six
other Japanese and American ships.
The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal is more than a picture-book of lost ships.
It is also a reminder that the battles on Guadalcanal and in Ironbottom
Sound were the turning point to the Pacific War. Australia's freedom lay
in the balance. Had the U.S.Marines been defeated and Guadalcanal fallen
back into the hands of the Japanese, Australia would surely have fallen.
That this did not happen we must be eternally grateful to the likes of
Admiral King, General Vandergrift, Colonel Edson - and of course Captain
Frank Getting and his gallant crew of the Canberra.
Archbold writes with sufficient interest to ensure that the war history
is very much a part of the book. Excellent paintings and war photographs
- many from the Japanese side of events - add to the interest, for not
to know why these ships lie on the bottom is to drink wine and be ignorant
of the grape. First-hand account descriptions of incredible courage and
survival are very well written and give the book a very strong human touch.
I must admit to being annoyed by a few aspects of the production. Try and
find out at what depth the Canberra lies, or more important perhaps to
us shallow water explorers, how deep is the destroyer
appears to lie on a nearshore ridge off Honiara. And why was Canberra
with the American fleet in the first place? The publishers will argue that
this is not a "popular" book for the mass public, not a war history. Perhaps
they are right.
one other point. There is a general attitude in the interests of public
respect not to show recognisable faces of the dead, whether they be friend
or foe. The publishers have not respected this. But to more pleasant
matters, it is pleasing to see that the intrepid coastwatcher Martin Clemens
and his guides, including the incredible Jacob Vousa are mentioned with
the highest of respect.
who have visited the Solomons will recognise some of the photographs; the
Sherman tank for example, and one of the Bonegi wrecks. But this is predominantly
a book on those ships well beyond the reach of the humble "aqua-lung".
This is certainly not a guide book of wrecks in the Solomon Islands. Neither
the American destroyer John Penn, the Japanese submarine off Visalae, nor
the Ruiniu wreck are mentioned.
is highly unlikely that I and those of my generation shall have the opportunity
to see these ships for ourselves. But rest assured that within another
half century, a trip to the Canberra will be on the Hotel Mendana's list
of activities as common as a game of badminton. In the meantime, I shall
be grateful to Ballard and his team, and The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.
SLUGS AND THEIR RELATIVES OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA by Fred E.Wells & Clayton
is a dearth of material on nudibranchs. Neville Coleman put out a book(let)
several years ago but is well out of print. (Update - Neville's book is
back in print, and there are many books on nudibranchs now available).
Now we have this "introduction to the subject" on sea slugs which includes
the nudibranchs. The authors suggest that the classification of opisthobranchs
the world over is in a mess, with very little information available. Identification
and classification becomes difficult under such conditions. This work at
least attempts to record the scientific work done by the Western Australian
Museum. Pity it relates predominantly to western Australian shores, but
many of the species mentioned are temperate water and will relate to their
what is a sea slug? Gastropod molluscs, (we call them snails), are the
most common class. The largest group of sub-class opisthobranchs are the
nudibranchs which have no shells at adult stage. Because of their exotic
beauty, it is the nudibranchs that many divers relate to. But there
is exquisite beauty in the flatworms, the delicate Hydatinidae, the rare
Cyerce nigricans of the Polybranchiidae family, and the ethereal Austraeolis
ornata found from the Abrolhos through to New South Wales.
Slugs and Their Relatives of Western Australia opens with an attempt
to define the animal in scientific terms. The natural history of the animal
follows; its development and evolution, food, reproduction, and defence.
A short chapter suggests where to find sea slugs and gives a warning on
collecting (in Western Australia).
predominant chapters are sectioned into the various species, commencing
with a very useful "how to use this book" describing the classification
of the animal from Kingdom to Species. Text relating to the individual
families is brief, and to each species with its generally superb colour
photograph even more succinct. As a guide it will at least assist the reader
to define the family, and inn some instances pinpoint the exact species,
but the authors do not claim this to be a definitive guide. Yet of immense
assistance it certainly is.
Slugs and Their Relatives maintains the high standard of book production
set by the W.A.Museum, and compliments other volumes such as Anemonesfishes
and their Host Anemones, and the two Marine Fishes books. Colour is used
throughout, generally two photographs per page. The book is well recommended,
even for eastern states readers.
by Peter Stone. Scuba Diver magazine.