25 October 2010

Launch of Reef Creature Identification Tropical Pacific

Today I was kindly invited by Ivan Choong of DiveBooks.net to the launch of this awesome book!
Reef Creature Identification Tropical Pacific by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach is an amazing feast for the eyes and a great inspiration to get out there and REALLY look at our marine life!

Check out these incredible sample pages from fishid.com! There's tons of crusties.
Lots of psychedelic slugs for all you nudi freaks.
And truly marvellous photos of incredible events such as these living jewels hatching.
Ivan had invited me to join the press interview for the launch at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Here is Anna and Ned with Victoria from the Straits Times interviewing them. I was greatly inspired to hear the stories Ned shared about why and how he did his work.
Also present at the interview were Dr Tan Swee Hee and JC Mendoza, crab experts at the museum. While Ned had earlier said it was incredibly useful to have expert taxonomists such as them to help identify the creatures he documented, Swee Hee and JC shared that they too learnt a lot from the photos. We all agreed it was a great symbiotic relationship between field photographers and taxonomists!
When asked to choose his favourite among the 1,600 animals featured in the book, Ned without hesitation pointed to the shrimp that looks like a snail shell! One of these shrimps (but I believe not the same species) was featured in a paper in RMBR's Raffles Bulletin of Zoology earlier this year! Ned also shared other stories which you will have to wait to read about in Victoria's article.
Then it was time to take a group shot, in the museum stacks full of crabs! How appropriate! We loved the idea.
For comparison, we selected a dead white colourless crab in a jar (the biggest one we could quickly find - turned out it was collected by Peter Ng at Sentosa!) and what the crab looks like when it's alive and colourful in Ned's book.
And here is another comparison using the beautifully hideous gianormous Horrible elbow crab.
And another photo just with Swee Hee and Ned in the stacks.
It was marvellously inspiring to meet Anna and Ned. Thank you to both and also to Ivan for this opportunity.

The book is wonderful! Flipping quickly through, I already learnt what this mystery creature might be. I saw it at Cyrene Reef during a night trip. It was curled up in a Flowery soft coral.
From Ned's book, it seems to be a Syllid worm (Family Syllidae) also called an Octocoral worm because it inhabits soft corals and sea fans. Thank you Ned!

There's lots more cute, colourful, cryptic and just simply bizarre creatures in the book that I'm sure must be out there on our shores. Inspired now to go look for them!

This book is a treasure!

You can buy the book from DiveBooks.net in Singapore at $60, discounted from $75, which says this about the book:
The 500-page reference, detailing 1,600 animals with 2,000 photographs and descriptive text is not only the most comprehensive visual guide to marine invertebrate life inhabiting the waters from Thailand to Tahiti, but also a pictorial tour de force skillfully bridging science and the aesthetic. The two researchers delved deep into uncharted waters, not only visually documenting numerous species for the first time, but also incorporating the most recent taxonomic research from more than 40 scientific specialists. “The new book represents our most pioneering work to date.” DeLoach explains. “Although quite detailed, what we have compiled only scratches the surface of the undreamed-of animals still out there waiting to be discovered.”

The guide provides a boon of information for diving photographers and underwater naturalists, known as critter hunters, who enjoy one of the most challenging games in the sea – searching for charismatic mini-fauna of the reef. And for the armchair adventurers, the brilliant gallery of images brings an unseen, unimagined world to the surface like never before.
See more of Ned's stunning photos on fishid.com!

See also Victoria's article Weird and Wonderful Creatures of the Deep.

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