Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide
For Serious Fish-watchers, June 20, 2000
Over many years, I have looked for a good guide to reef fauna. Last year, I settled for this one and probably won’t look further.
This one is very good for identifying everything from sponges to turtles. Each type of creature (usually a phylum or an order) is organized into its own chapter, which begins with a couple of pages of general facts that generally cover reproduction, feeding, and interesting characteristics. Then come the pages of very good color photos of each variation (there are over 20 different clownfishes identified… not bad!) These are labeled with their common name and their Latin name.
But unlike Margaret Gremli’s Marine Life in the South China Sea (albeit a less complete and orderly field guide), Allen and Steene’s book does not offer any interesting tidbits of information NEXT TO the creature’s photo. Each entry is just a name, sometimes with a height in centimeters. In other words, it’s great for getting the exact name of the fish you just spotted forty feet down, and your dive log will gain some cred, but you won’t immediately find any descriptive text or amusing information about that fish in its entry. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great field guide, and it took me 10 years to find this. But some divers may prefer the "hey, did you know…?" format of Gremli’s book (ISBN 9 789624 215427, published by APA Publications (H.K.) Ltd).