Rhythm of the Reef by Rick Sammon Rhythm of the Reef by Rick Sammon
There was the book, withdrawn from its envelope, and I said to myself, even if it isn't worth reading it's certainly worth looking at. I was enthralled by the deep blue of its end papers, and the glowing orange grouper nestled firmly in a field of pristine white. Surely all divers will have their juices triggered by the sumptuous images contained here. In Rhythm of the Reef: A Day in the Life of the Coral Reef, Rick Sammon has aimed to give us an 'experience' of the reefs rather than a dry trip through the wastelands of academia. So he guides us on a personal tour of some of the world's top dive sites. From dawn at the Red Sea to midday at Truk - one of the strangest, perhaps most inappropriate, of the dive sites (the images are particularly haunting), then to a rainy sunset dive at Cocos and finally to a sparkling midnight dip off Bonaire - switch off those torches, please! The text is geared to include the environmentally ignorant non-diver, which is why it seems simplistic at times. Sammon skims the surface of his subject, documentary-style, but still manages to tantalise us with the basic facts, and to introduce a feel of the integrity of reef systems and their vulnerability to even a single element of the Earth's ecosystem being drastically altered. He discusses the decline of coral reefs without the hysterical polemics that a hardened activist might prefer, though at times the helpful hints on photography sit uncomfortably with the seriousness of this issue. But this book is intended to encourage people into a sense of responsibility for their environment, and he manages this difficult job rather well. There are several reasons to own this book, or to give it as a gift, from the information on reef ecosystems to fascinating facts for your dive briefings, from photographic advice to an excellent bibliography and a list of environmental organisations involved in reef conservation. Yet the heart of this book is in the poetry of its images, that may evoke a sense of awe and call you to the oceans for a direct experience of their majesty. Without that awe there can be no consistent motivation to take care. Let's hope that those moments spent among the glimmering glassfish of a Red Sea cave are mystical enough to bring this sense of amazement into the rest of our lives. Amen!
Rhythm of the Reef by Rick Sammon, Swan Hill Press (01743 235651). Hardback £19.95.