THIS NEW REFERENCE BOOK is for divers visiting what I always want to call the Seychelles but which the authors just call Seychelles, so that’s what I’ll be calling it in future – you see, I’ve learnt something already.
It comes hot on the heels of last year’s guide by Oliver, Robin and Justin Gerlach, which covered similar ground but used illustrations rather than photographs.
The more substantial Underwater Guide to Seychelles is divided into three parts – an overview of the Indian Ocean islands and the marine environment, including practical information for travellers; a guide to 25 popular dive and 10 snorkelling sites; and a marine-life ID section covering 280 common Indian Ocean fish, invertebrates and corals.
The dive-site guide concentrates on sites around the main island of Mahe but also includes Silhouette and North Island, and Praslin and surrounding islands. Two wreck-sites are included, the Aldabaran and Twin Barges.
The writers are Seychelles residents who clearly know their subject very well. Christophe Mason-Parker is a conservationist and photographer and runs the local gap-year volunteer programme Global Vision International Seychelles, while scientific diver Rowana Walton works for conservation organisation Seychelles Islands Foundation.
They have done a very nice job of assembling the information into a neat and readable package.
The only downside is that the book seems to have been slightly let down at the production stage. The original photography appears fine, even though most pictures have had to be used rather small (single-column whale sharks?). However, what appears to be a lack of colour-correction has left an impression of gloom about pages that, considering the subject matter, should be vibrant.
Even the cover choice, of a relatively drab semi-circle angelfish, undersells the contents, when so many brightly coloured Indian Ocean fish might have sung off the page.
For fish ID I would probably prefer to go with one of the comprehensive Indian Ocean or Maldives books available, with bigger, brighter pictures and more information. But if I was heading for the Seychelles, this guide’s overall content would probably put it on my reading list.
Steve Weinman

John Beaufoy Publishing
ISBN: 9781909612532
Softback, 160pp, £14.99