Books

A Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula, author Georgina Jones

By Annatjie Rademeyer

This is a photographic resource guide for scuba divers to help with identifying marine animals in the Cape Peninsula. The detailed introduction describes the False Bay and Peninsula's diving conditions very well, while the book also includes the binominal classification system, conservation, evolutionary theories and a helpful how to use the field guide section. Maps shows the sites most dived, as well as various landmarks.

Each chapter has a description of the characteristics of the class or subclass and a detailed line sketch for easy recognition. Also included are sketches of some interesting structures on marine animals, such as the Nudibranch rhinopores shapes and the Keyhole limpets' chimney system to direct waste away from its head (I did not know that).


The photographs are very clear and you can recognise the distinguishing characteristics of each animal easily. With the Latin name, size, distribution and natural history for each animal listed, this guide is a must have for easy reference between dives.

The five years Georgina took compiling this guide can clearly be seen and undoubtedly depicts her love for the ocean. We are looking forward to the next one. The guide is available from most of the Cape diving stores and Exclusive Books as well as online at www.surge.co.za or www.readersforumbooks.co.za for R250.

Beneath North Sulawe Sea

By Michael AW Reviewed by Amilda Boshoff

ImageThis hardcover, coffee table book gives you a glance at the most amazing and colourful creatures living in our oceans.

At different times of the day, the colours and scenery change and we don’t always realize the full extent of these changes. “Time to take a nap before going to the cleaning station to make sure there are no unwanted particles left of last night’s dinner”, the everyday life on the reef is well portrayed. Certain species of fish and plant life are only found at depths that the normal open water diver can’t reach, so this book brings them closer to home. It is filled with stunning artistic photography that is up-close and personal, with witty headings that bring a smile to your face as you recognise the reef in the scene.

For divers and non-divers alike, this book makes you want to see more. If ever the chance arises and I am able to travel to Asia, the North Sulawe Sea inhabitants will definitely be seeing me.

Coastal Fishes Of The Cape Peninsula And False Bay

by Guido Zsilavecz (Published by SURG)
Reviewed by: Fiona McIntosh

ImageGuido Zsilavecz impressed me even before I opened his book. The short back-page blurb noted that while the man ‘travels regularly to exotic diving locations around the world, he prefers Cape Peninsula waters most.’ Good on him. As a Capey I applaud that sentiment, and his enthusiasm for diving around the Cape Peninsula is infectious. Most of the author’s diving has been in his home waters around Cape Town and this is a place he loves. As you page through the book it’s also evident that he’s fascinated by fishes.

Guido is no stranger to the pages of Divestyle. Between 1996 and 2000 he was a regular contributor to the mag writing on topics as diverse as the Red Sea, Wrecks of Cape Town, Shark diving in False Bay, and Seychelles. Then, in 2004 Guido and Peter Southwood (compiler of our Cape Peninsula dive reports) formed SURG, the Southern Underwater Research Group. Their aim was to promote interest in Cape Town’ underwater environment, by helping people identify what they see, and then share their findings on the SURG website. Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay is one of these tools, lovingly put together using Guido’s own photos and knowledge gained over many years of observing fish in Cape Town. He explains the rationale behind it; South Africa has numerous fish identification guides but none are dedicated exclusively to Cape Town waters. So many divers, who would like to know more about what they saw, are frustrated as they cannot find their sighting in the other popular guides’. So, to make life easier, he describes 100 resident, and fairly regularly sighted Cape species, plus a few visitors. The second half of the book is colour plates of the fish, and, very usefully, if there are significant differences between males and females, between juveniles and adults, or where colouration and pattern are variable, sometimes more than one image. In general the photos are good and clear – certainly good enough for ID purposes, whilst some images – such as the klipfish portrait, the stunning weedsuckers and cleverly disguised blennies - are really excellent.

By his own admission the guide is not 100% complete. Apparently there are many more fishes listed as occurring in Cape Peninsula waters than Guido has seen or photographed. So if you’re lucky enough to spot a rare species, enjoy the privilege, and then share your find, and get help to ID it, either by sending a photo or a description to the website - www.surg.co.za. At this price Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay an invaluable resource that no Cape diver should be without. Keep it in your dive bag and enjoy.

Complete Diving Manual

By Jack Jackson. Published by New Holland Publishers
Reviewed by Fiona McIntosh

ImageThis new hardback is one of a series of manuals covering a range of adventure sports, from climbing to sailing, but to be honest, whilst the content is OK, I find the design and layout very childish and off-putting. They remind me of uninspiring textbooks.

That said the Complete Diving Manual is the sort of book that is worth having around for reference, and to refresh yourself on the more technical info that you have to learn to get your C-card, then promptly forget. You know, like physiology, gas laws etc. The book has brief introductions to extended range diving, safety and first aid; the broad scenarios and principles of specialties such as underwater photography are outlined and there are some interesting and fun chapters on dangerous underwater organisms and pollutants. The manual seems to have been written with the British diver as the primary market with short but interesting descriptions of different types of diving and necessary equipment including diving under ice, freshwater diving etc. There’s some interesting stuff that I didn’t know, such as the fact that many divers apparently carry two old CD’s stuck together to use as a heliograph to attract the attention of boat cover, but largely there’s nothing earth shatteringly new.

However, these are minor limitations; it’s the section on gear that really lets the product down. Not only are the pics very dated, but new technology is rarely featured or shown. For example, though integrated computers are mentioned, there is no reference to watch computers, and the computers illustrated are, shall we say, not exactly cutting edge. Similarly much of the other material on gear is already showing its age – ‘Some of the recent blade designs have split fins,’ we are informed! Mmm, really, what a revelation. And infuriatingly, when it might be revealing, the information is generalised rather than specific. ‘Some computers are designed to stop supplying information if you go into decompression. These are best avoided because they become unusable when you most need them – when you have made a mistake,’ Jackson advises. So which ones should we avoid?

Would I buy it? Well, I no longer have my manual, so possibly for reference. But with a little more attention to the visuals, it could have been so much better.

Die Afrikaanse Skuba Duiker

Image Hierdie boek is ‘n hulpmiddel om jou gou in die skuba wereld in te laat. Lees dit, kyk dit en doen dit met hierdie innoverende boek en 30 minuut DVD vir enige een wat jeuk om in te klim en iets uitdagends te doen.

Hierdie produk is gemik vir die Afrikaans sprekende Skuba duiker, wat jou sal help om tegnieke wat in skuba duik gebruik word te bemeester. Die stap vir stap visuele afrigter sal jou leer van fin tegnieke tot die regte manier om maskers te ruil. Die 30 minuut DVD gebruik 360 grade lewendige aksie fries frase beelde asook stadige aksie om tegnieke te verduidelik en uit te beeld. Die inspirasie en motivering wat jy uit hierdie produk sal kry gaan jou help om sommer baie gou in die diep blou see te kan duik en die wonderlike natuurskoon te kan beleef.

Vir meer inligting gaan na www.za.penguingroup.com


Dive In Style

By Tim Simond. Published by Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by Karyn Cooper

ImageThere used to be a trade-off between diving and style, but now you can do both. Tim Simond’s hardcover, coffee-table book is the gateway to diving in style for discerning divers and those looking for special destinations. Spanning the globe from our very own continent, including Mozambique, Tanzania and Egypt, to Australia, the Mediterranean, the Philippines, Mexico and Palau. Twenty-six destinations offer divers the most spectacular dive sites with outstanding accommodation. Each destination is clearly denoted with lots of information, offering readers an exact pinpoint of the location of the destination, airports, airlines, and transfer times.

The lodges, boats and dive centre’s services, activities, website and facilities are noted in an ‘at a glance’ margin, making for easy reading. The diving is broken down into level, local sites, visibility, nearest hyperbaric chamber and most importantly, the marine life one can dive with. The marine life is beautifully depicted with full page images and you’ll feel like you want to pack your bags and leave immediately.

A rather helpful graph at the back of the book contains diving facts and figures on all twenty-six destinations and covers water temperature and visibility all year round, as well as a glossary on diving terms.

This book is an invaluable travel guide, so whether you’re on a quest for a thrilling ocean adventure or dreaming of a sleepy island escape, this book offers everything you need.

Diving & Snorkelling South Africa, Lonely Planet

ISBN 1–74059–344-8
Reviewed by: Fiona McIntosh

ImageYou have to hand it to lonely planet, they do produce excellent, informative guides. The latest in their series of diving and snorkelling books focuses on the incredible marine world of South Africa and southern Mozambique. Co-author, with American Tim Rock, is Jean Pierre Botha, a familiar figure in the southern African diving industry. Though most associate JP with Marine Dynamics and his work with great white sharks in Gansbaai, he is now based primarily at his Ganjama resort in Guinjata Bay so his expertise extends beyond the border. The pocket-sized book is a fabulous reference for local and visiting divers alike covering 90 odd sites with clear maps of dive regions, key site info such as best time to dive, access, depth range, expertise rating with additional info, such as whether good snorkelling/free diving, marine reserve or not etc provided through icons.

Obviously a book of this size has to be selective, but unlike so many other guides, individual sites on major reefs (such as on Sodwana’s Two Mile) are named and briefl y described and there are some lesser-known dives thrown in to keep you interested. And, in addition to the comprehensive site info, there is a wealth of background reading on the history of diving in SA, the main species found in the region, underwater photography, a directory of dive operators and other major dive related organisations and some recommendations as to top dives. Colour photographs complete an excellent package, and if it seems a bit pricey for us locals I’m sure it will be a win with overseas visitors.

Diving the World's Coral Reefs

Jack Jackson (consultant editor), New Holland Publishing
Reviewed by Fiona McIntosh

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This book has ‘drool’ written all over it. The large format, glossy-covered addition to the Top Dive Sites of the World series is one that you can leave out on the coffee table safe in the knowledge that, should you be called away to the phone, decide to make a cup of tea or even escape for a power nap, your guest will be totally engrossed on your return.

Diving the World’s Coral Reefs traverses the warm waters of the globe: from well-frequented sites, where the diving is based on popular resorts, to remote offshore reefs that are accessible only by live-aboard boats in fine weather. From the fascinating small creatures found during muck-diving, and wonderful expanses of colourful soft tree corals, to high-voltage drift-dives and shark feeding frenzies, the informative text written by a team of experts in each region is illustrated by some of the best award-winning underwater photographers in the world.

The growth and life cycles of different forms of hard and soft corals are clearly explained and their diagnostic features illustrated by accompanying photographs so you can really prep up before a dive. The evolution of, and threats to coral reefs are also covered in depth, as is the marine life that coral reefs support. But the main section of the book is all about the exotic places in the world where you can dive these phenomena; each location tantalisingly presented with incredible surface and underwater images. Naturally a book of this scope cannot give much detail on the actual dive sites, but there is enough information for you to get a good idea what to expect, and an outline map of each of the places featured. My one criticism, however, is that there is no map showing the location or extent of the world’s coral reefs. Please may we have one in the update?

Don't Climb Kilimanjaro

By Fiona McIntosh and Tim Richman (Two Dogs)

ImageIf you’re looking for a route offthe beaten track, then here it is! Don't Climb Kilimanjaro (Climb The Ruwenzori) is cowritten by Divestyle contributing editor, Fiona McIntosh, and is a slightly tongue-in-cheek list of 50 somewhat clichéd adventures. Each comes with a lesser-known alternative that offers travellers a holiday without the crowds.

It gives the low-down, including the benefits and the drawbacks of the more chosen paths – the reasons you might like to look at something else. If you’ve climbed Kili – well done, it’s a fantastic achievement, but you’ll know how crowded and grubby the mountain can be on the main route. Next time, head for Uganda’s virtually unknown Ruwenzori. Here are a handful of dive adventures thrown in for good measure.

There’s a wide range of holiday ideas – everything from the mild to the wild. If you’re tired of following the herd, go out and get this book now!

Cost: R100 at all major bookshops

Going Down

By Amanda Ursell, New Holland Publishing
Reviewed by Fiona McIntosh

ImageIf you ever need help in persuading people to try scuba diving, give them this book written by Amanda Unswell, who claims she was hydro-, claustro- and sharkophobic. So terrified of water was she that she would not even put one toe in the sea. Now she is an avid diver. Her account of overcoming her inhibitions and understanding the causes and irrationality of her fears is amusing, and it really makes you think. An award-winning journalist, Amanda explains how we learn our fears, picking them up from society and people around us, and then play them out in our everyday lives. She admits that it is unlikely that she came into the world scared of the sea, large fish and small spaces.

But over the years, reinforced by media sensationalism and movies such as Jaws, she convinced herself that diving was terrifying. She recalls the conversation that convinced her to give diving a go. A friend of hers, who, conveniently, is a life-skills coach, told her about “limiting beliefs” – the things that limit you from being the person you can be. His approach is to encourage people to give things a go, to have the guts to see if they are really scared, or if they just think they are scared. She swallowed hard, took the plunge, and was hooked.

Going Down follows her dive history: starting out, getting used to the idea of wearing a mask and putting her head in the water, the problems of grasping the physics of diving, the importance of buddies, and a good look at all the things that can go wrong, and what to do in those unlikely events. It is an hilarious account, but it makes you appreciate what goes on inside the heads of nervous divers and, if Amanda is to be believed, women in particular!

Even if you are experienced and gung-ho Going Down is fascinating, drawing on years of experience from dive instructors with whom she has worked. Before you know it you have absorbed a whole lot of interesting facts about coral spawning, cleaning stations, sharks and night diving. Amanda writes well and the book is illustrated by entertaining cartoons, so whilst much of this information is quite detailed, above all it is an excellent read.

Of course, it helps that the instructor who enlightened her, the charming Gerald Rambert, assisted her in writing the book. He is a passionate diver and extremely good-looking. I would also manage to overcome my fears if he were to be my mentor.