World Oceans Day seems to be the perfect day to write about the Living Shores: Interacting with southern Africa’s marine ecosystems, the new and updated version of the book that describes the shoreline of South Africa in great detail. The previous edition of this book has literally been read to pieces in our home and we were thrilled to receive a copy of this one for review, from Struik Nature South Africa.
The first edition of this book was just that, one glorious big book… but this edition is actually the first in a two part edition. Volume I examines coastal habitats, along the South African coastline and Volume II will take a closer look at the plant an animal life along our shoreline.
Let’s Meet the Authors
George and Margo Branch describe themselves as a “beach bums par excellence,” in actual fact… they are prolific writers and teachers in the marine community of South Africa. To their scientific skills they each bring an illustrative component, George brings photography and Margot brings art, and together they produce beautiful books to educate and enrich our lives.
We have been lucky enough to bump into George and Margot Branch on our beach cleanups in Muizenberg Corner and I can assure you that a morning spent exploring the rocky shores with these two is an entire education all of its own… their knowledge and wonder at all things to do with the ocean is engaging and compelling. They are a font of knowledge and excited to share what they know with even the shortest ocean enthusiasts.
Let’s Look Inside the Book
Let’s begin by saying that this book provides details for all the regions along our shoreline, as well as further out to sea. The information is packed into this book, chapters are broken into manageable chunks and then broken down further into boxes of information and beautiful illustrations to explain, where words simply aren’t enough, as well as that, the book is richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, creating a visual encyclopaedia of anything and everything to do with the ocean.
The book is presented in two parts, Part 1 is everything to do with the Ecosystems along the South African Coastline, and Part II is about The Human Factor. In the Ecosystem section you can look more closely at Rocky Shores and Sandy Beaches, Kelp Forests and Estuaries, not to mention the Open Ocean and other areas of out coastline. There is a lot to look at, and discover about our shoreline and we love the detail that the authors go into to firstly explore everything they possibly can about the coastline and then the lengths they go to to explain their discoveries.
The first section of the book on ecosystems explores all the living things: the nature of the plants and animals along the shore, the different features found in each zone and most importantly, why certain creatures prefer certain areas and
The more the authors learn and discover the more we as readers get told… you really feel as if you are exploring along side of them, and it is a wonderful way to learn. they have asked numerous other scientists to tell us about their work in the ocean environment and they have managed to present all this information for us in a way that is understandable and interesting.
The second half of the book entitled The Human Factor, describes the influence of man on the ocean around us… a fascinating and well balanced presentation of the all sorts of human interactions with the ocean… the fishing industry, the mining industry, the effects of climate change and the need for marine protection.
I thought I would read this book to our kids for school this year, little bit by little bit… and I left it out on the coffee table for a while before getting started on it. Turns out I won’t need to read it at all, because almost every time I walk into the room someone has the book and is dipping into it. This is exactly the type of book that has your children saying: “Did you know this?” or “Did you know that?” as they read away.
More importantly, when we are exploring rock pools invariably one of the kids well say… “I read in the Living Shores that…” Clearly what they are reading is becoming part of their understanding and they are ready to take the new found knowledge out into the field. This is the quintessential book for all ocean lovers to have on hand… when they need a question answered and when they want to learn something new. The fact that this is only part one of a two collection of books is great news for us… because we have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this book.
I received these books from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.