There was the book, withdrawn from its envelope, and I said to myself, even if it isnt worth reading its certainly worth looking at.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 worlds 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 Earths 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. Lets 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!