Worlds of the Reef Worlds of the Reef, Ransom Publishing
YOU ARE yearning to get out to a coral reef, but can't afford the time or money to hop on a plane. So how about getting in front of your PC and going on a virtual dive? Worlds of the Reef is an interactive multimedia programme on CD-Rom, designed to take you diving without going anywhere near water. Using the mouse on your PC, you have a series of exotic dives to choose from, and on each one you are accompanied by a friendly dive guide to give you a running commentary on what you see. As you go along, you can amuse yourself by taking snapshots to put in a photo album, by making notes in an on-screen notebook, or by filling in a fish identification chart. If something catches your eye, you can zoom in for a close-up and your jovial guide will tell you all about it. Topside attractions include a marine research centre, a mini-museum and field centre, packed full of information about the reefs. If that doesn't grab you, how about a spot of pre-dive training? Most of the program is made up of still shots, but you get the odd treat in the form of an isolated moving image when you stumble across a shark, say, or a moray eel. Worlds of the Reef has been created with images and video from the Coral Cay Conservation programme in Belize, backed up by footage from the BBC Natural History Unit. It is introduced by conservationist David Bellamy. The underwater shots are less than vibrant, and the process of moving on screen from one stage of a dive to the next is a little slow. However, the program provides an entertaining way to learn about the world's reefs, and if you are keen to support the cause of the International Year of the Reef by increasing your awareness of what's at stake, this could be just the thing. Nicola Tyrrell
Worlds of the Reef, Ransom Publishing, tel. 01491 613711. CD-Rom £34.99.