Dr. Richard Smith / Apollo Publishers / 312 pages
The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs, by Dr. Richard Smith, is a fascinating description of the aquatic life in coral environments. Smith’s engaging narratives concerning a multitude of species are only surpassed by his amazing photos. Although I have dived the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Yap, Palau, Guam, and Hawaii, I was immediately envious of the more expansive and impressive list of dive sites that Smith has visited. What’s more, Smith’s forays into the vast and diverse array of miniature life in the reefs made me realize that I had likely overlooked many opportunities to spot marine life.
Smith combines his personal studies of each species with an assessment of unique behavioral patterns that only a skilled biologist could deliver in such a captivating manner. He is a renowned expert on seahorses, and the variety of seahorses, pygmy seahorses, and sea dragons he showcases will leave you wanting to book a trip to Indonesia. Perhaps most interesting is his chapter on marine parasites and their relationship with their host species. Once again, his photos depicting these animals are brilliant. He also describes in great detail the more commonly known cleaning functions performed by some species on other forms of marine life.
The World Beneath culminates with a compelling case for awareness of the vast damage to these fragile ecosystems that humans cause through a combination of carelessness or apathy.
—Robert Tomiak, Vice President, Monitor Caribbean