SOME TIME BEFORE he started popping up on TV as its who-you-gonna-call freshwater diver, Jack Perks had been writing in DIVER about the art of river-diving (Roaming the Rivers, October 2012).
More recently he wrote for us about the freshwater life of Stoney Cove, and was behind the national campaign to find Britain’s signature freshwater fish (the brown trout, the most widespread of British fish, surfaced as the winner, in case you missed it).
Now Jack’s back with his first book, Freshwater Fishes of Britain. I don’t know how many divers he has inspired to follow in his wake and explore our inland waters, but if you’re among them and aren’t already armed with a good ID book, this is for you.
This is a typically attractively produced book from Reed New Holland, making good use of the authors’ well-taken photos – images that might suggest that all our inland waters are as clear as consommé. Perks, who prefers to use natural light for his photos, set himself the challenge of photographing all the species of British fish and has certainly come up with the goods in impressive style.
Each of some 56 fish species, from the tiny 10-spined stickleback to the mighty Atlantic sturgeon, is illustrated, and the photographs are complemented by brief descriptions – size and weight, distinguishing features, breeding patterns, habitats and so on.
The square format of the book lends itself well to the subject matter. Particularly striking are the super-macro close-ups of details – an example being a spread showing a three-spined stickleback’s head on the left, with a full-length stickleback eating a worm on the right. The book is a reminder of just how many species live in our fresh waters.
While Jack Perks is a diver and naturalist, this book will of course be bought mainly by anglers. However, rounded up as it is with all sorts of interesting facts and figures I suspect that any divers will find it an interesting read too. It certainly represents a considerable diving achievement on the part of the author.
Steve Weinman

Reed New Holland Publishing
ISBN: 9781921517778
Hardback, 224pp, £16.99