Beachcombing – A Guide to seashores of the Southern Hemisphere¦BOOK REVIEW

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Ceridwen Fraser
Paperback | July 2021 | $ 27.99
ISBN: 9781486314898 | 116 pages | 210 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour illustrations, Colour photographs

From The growth rate of goose barnacles to How to cook cockles in kelp, this book is comprehensive and detailed. Many species shown and discussed are not found in Western Australia, so it should not be seen as a field guide. It is primarily a book about the biology of marine organisms and the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems. But it also includes topics such as ocean currents, bioluminescence, tides, waves and currents, and things that float, such as pumice and driftwood. It is beautifully illustrated, and these pictures could well serve as an identification guide, but at a general level only.

Starting with the causes of tides and why waves break, this book describes the oddities of ocean currents, messages in bottles, flotsam versus jetsam, and where most of the plastic pollution comes from. Then it describes the ecology of phytoplankton, krill and other pelagic life, why crustacean tides occur, and life in the shallows and rocky pools. There are sections about ambergris, and why sea foam occurs. Then there are sponges, sea jellies, anemones, tunicates and sea worms, seagrasses and the three types of seaweed. The shells of molluscs and the egg cases of sharks are discussed. And then there are seabirds, marine mammals, sunfish and giant squid.

One chapter explains “rafting”, and how marine and terrestrial plants and animals can be spread around the globe. And finally there is a discussion of the future of southern hemisphere beaches, the anthropogenic changes that threaten them, and how we can ameliorate the problems. A list of further reading includes journal articles as well as books on many of the topics dealt with in this book. This is a well-presented and informative book.

Mike Gregson