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About this book
About this book
Published in association with WWF-Malaysia, this important book describes the uniqueness of the Coral Triangle region's marine biodiversity, its conservation importance and the stories, successes and struggles of the drive to maintain its rich biodiversity. The book gives a big-picture overview of threats and solutions and up-close and personal experiences from the ground and the people affected by conservation. The stories come from the work that WWF-Malaysia and USAID Coral Triangle Support Partnership are carrying out in the region.
Chapters cover the rich habitats of the Coral Triangle and the endangered species, as well as an in-depth survey of each of the countries of the area. As the earth's single greatest repository of marine life, the Coral Triangle is also a great draw for SCUBA divers. For each of the countries covered, top dive sites are listed.
Customer Reviews (1)
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
1 Nov 2020
Written for Hardback
On first appearance, this is another beautiful, large-format coffee-table book with the generous use of stunning photographs, some used as full pages. But it is much more than that. As I shall explain, the book is an interesting, educational and a readable hybrid of natural history, conservation and stunning underwater imagery put together with the design skills of the John Beaufoy Publishing team that has expertise in both field guide formats as well as the larger more coffee-table-style format. The background of the authors behind this joint publication with WWF–Malaysia may explain why the book is a hybrid of many elements. The text author has worked as a dive instructor but has many years of experience of working in coral reefs and in the region covered in this book as a conservationist. The principal photographer Eric Madeja has been a dive photographer for over 20 years, much of it as a professional photographer and a filmmaker. Both of them have made a strong contribution to this book.
A key objective of this book is to educate and inform the reader of what the Coral Triangle is and its legislative status and why it should be protected. The first chapter (pages 1 to 39) explain its boundaries, that 363 million people live in the area and that it is primarily within the boundaries of the six countries which are in the book’s subtitle. Each chapter takes the form of several bite-sized essays, usually spread across two lavishly illustrated pages. The first chapter covers topics such as biodiversity, early exploration and the area’s richness. But the conservation theme is strong and even the very first chapter has essays on people, threats, halting the destruction and marine habitats. The last essay on halting the destruction has a number of shaded text boxes, some full-page, which would normally sit within the covers of a formal NGO report or in the proceedings of a conservation conference. Introducing these topics in a book of this style will certainly bring them to an audience that would not normally have read them. Conservation issues are also introduced to a wider audience in an impactful manner by some stunning landscape imagery juxtaposed with images of destruction, for example dynamiting fish; a terribly destructive practice.
If conservation issues are too depressing, there is plenty of interesting natural history content to inspire those who would like to travel to the region. Chapter Two (pages 41 to 67) is on the rich habitats of the Coral Triangle and introduces topics such as coral reefs, mangroves and other habitats. There is a wealth of information here in plain English. The key relationship between the coral polyps and the algae (zooxanthellae) is explained. Because the algae photosynthesise, coral reefs can form in what are nutrient deserts. There are of course many excellent books that provide detailed ecological information on the underwater world in this region. One of the best examples being the two volumes on The Ecology of Indonesian Seas by Tomas Tomascik and others. But these two volumes add up to nearly 1,400 pages. Therefore, the bite-sized and beautifully illustrated introduction to coral reefs and conservation issues in this book will play an important part in recruiting the general public to the cause.
The remaining six chapters are dedicated to each of the six countries in the book’s subtitle. These are Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. Each chapter is broken into topics. Although the exact titles of the topics may vary, they all have certain key topics in common. These include topics on the people, biodiversity, diving, threats, marine resources management, national plan of action and protected areas. The book is not a dive guide, but divers will find key sites signposted. Each country chapter begins with a map that has names of all the key islands and oceans with a scale bar and colour-shaded depth bar. The text is lavishly illustrated with images that depict both vertebrate and invertebrate marine species. Many of the images are exquisite. The captions for the photograph are informative. Some people may enjoy this book just for its images. But the text is not lightweight. The text is rich in detail and does not shy away from discussing some serious issues with conservation and resource management to strike a balance between meeting the needs of poor communities and conserving biodiversity. In some respects, this is one of the most beautifully laid out appeals for conservation I have seen.
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Ken Kassem is half American and half Egyptian and grew up around the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. After learning to dive at age 14 he went on to study marine sciences and geography. Ken spent 15 years working on tropical marine conservation issues around the world with international NGOs and is now pursuing a PhD at Kyoto University, Japan.
Eric Madeja was born and grew up in Switzerland, where he worked as a Swiss banker for some years. Feeling himself completely out of place, he decided to start a new life in Asia. After years of traveling and working throughout Southeast Asia, he finally settled in Sabah. In 2002 he co-founded Treasure Images Sdn Bhd. for which he takes most of the topside and underwater photography.