Sep 4, 2017

Pacific Marine Fishes Book 1

fishes of southern japan and the ryukyus
by Warren Burgess and Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod

This book is a catalog of fish species. It's the first of an impressive series of ten volumes that aimed to describe every known species in the Pacific- many which -at the time- had never been photographed before. I have to admit some of the photos are rather poor quality- the fish so deftly camouflaged against the background you can barely see it, or the photo just blurry and indistinct. But the majority are stunning, especially when you consider their age. I thought the descriptions might be strictly scientific or dull, but it's actually interesting reading- each section tells of the known distinguishing characteristics of the fish. Including physical features, curious feeding habits, mating behavior, methods of finding food, avoiding predators, raising the young (or not) and the like. Brief enough that you remained fixated on the reason you opened the book: to ogle the vast array of pictures (489 color plates). It's particularly nice that there are repeated images of the same species- some show the difference between males and females, or how juveniles change into adults, or just individual variations. I was really intrigued by the first set of pictures, showing how several kinds of marine angelfishes morph from juvenile colors into adult form. I knew that they change appearance completely- but not how. Here the intermediate stages are shown- with one color form and pattern overlaying the other on the fish's sides. Sometimes the photos were able to show a series of the exact same individual, as it was reared in captivity. Visually fascinating.

I found this series quite by chance: I was at the lfs for the first time and wasn't ready to buy fish yet but wanted to purchase something to support this locally-owned shop. I saw two books sitting on a shelf and started thumbing through them. They looked quite old but I was really taken with the detail and quality of the photographs: I wanted those books. However the owner said Oh No, those aren't for sale, they are from my own personal collection! So I came home and looked them up on amzn, bought the first few volumes to see if they were keepers. So far, definitely.

Rating: 4/5                  280 pages, 1972

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