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The marine habitats of the world are home to a more varied and concentrated array of animal life than anywhere on dry land. As marine scientists begin to penetrate even the most inaccessible of oceanic depths, there has never been a better time to observe and understand the bizarre and beautiful creatures that occupy the far-flung waters of the Earth.
This volume begins with concise coverage of the major marine groups that have evolved, and how they are equipped to survive and breed within their habitat, with analysis of the special anatomy that aids respiration, reproduction, feeding, motion and buoyancy. An illustrated explanation of taxonomy will help the reader to understand the laws that set some creatures apart and unite others. This structure is used throughout the book to group all profiled creatures, including sponges, corals, jelly animals, marine worms, molluscs, echinoderms, fish and marine reptiles.
The fascinating world of bony and cartilaginous fish is explored in detail, with discussion of social behaviour and reproduction, and the extraordinary interdependent relationships that exist between parasitic and predatory species. Full-colour artworks of the major types of habitat, plus sections on sea-watching, will convince the reader that a startling number of species can be observed around the world, both on the shoreline and beyond.
A world directory of up to 600 marine species, the vast majority of which are depicted in stunning colour artworks, reveals the complex relationships and systems at work in marine habitats. Read about the plate-like creatures that endure the perils of rocky pools and incoming tides; the reefs that teem with colourful life; the communities that exist at the edge of the continental shelf; the formidable creatures that hunt in remote waters; or the freezing, light-deficient conditions of the ocean deep. Each profile contains a quick-reference aid to distribution, plus concise information on habitat type, size, breeding, feeding behaviour, and, where applicable, status within the ever-growing community of threatened species.
With 1000 colour photographs and specially commissioned artworks and maps, expert text and fascinating facts, this richly illustrated guide to marine life is a comprehensive reference source.