REEF LIFE: A GUIDE TO TROPICAL
MARINE LIFE Our new 616 page book covering everything
from whales to snails
Below is the text from an interview with Scuba Diving Magazine. At the end
is a link to a small photo gallery of sample images from Reef Life. Enjoy!
Interview with Scuba Diving Magazine RE our new "Reef Life" book
Q: You have been the primary photographer of several other books in the
past. How was this project different from others?
A: I like to think of this book as a hybrid, a blending of genres-
critter ID handbook, small format coffee table book, and dive guide all
wrapped into one. At its core itís a useful source for identification of
a wide variety of tropical marine critters, from whales to snails, but
with more creative and attractive photo treatment than one normally sees
in guidebooks. I include large format beauty shots usually reserved only
for large coffee table tomes, plus thereís a wealth of solid scientific
information including regional surveys of endemism, in depth sections on
behavior and natural history, and windows into habitats adjoining the
coral reef such as mangroves and the open ocean. Lots of bonus material to
help flesh out oneís understanding of, and I hope appreciation for, reef
ecology and the tropical marine ecosystem. This is much more than your
typical ďfish ID bookĒ. Iím grateful Firefly supported my vision in
breaking the mold to create something new.
Q: The book contains over 1,000 color photographs. Of this expansive
collection, which photos mean the most to you personally?
A: Thereís a story behind most of these pictures, most definitely. As
marine photography has been my full-time job for twenty years, I have a
very real connection to the thousands of pictures created in my travels.
That connection is most often to the photoís subject- the animal or the
moment in time- rather than the imageís composition, artistry, or
techniques used to make it. Iíve always been more interested in the
critters than the craft. Since Iíve enjoyed so many amazing encounters
with fascinating creatures large and small, most of the pictures in this
book do indeed strike a personal chord. A pelagic feeding frenzy with
rarely photographed brydeís whales and dozens of marlin attacking
sardine baitballs surely ranks as the luckiest encounter Iíve ever had
at seaÖ Slogging through a wasteland of what was once verdant mangrove
forest, denuded to make way for a beach resort, left me near tears, as did
climbing onto a sharkfinning boat in ThailandÖ On a brighter note, the
ďover underĒ split view reef shot which opens Chapter One is a
favorite of mine. I believe it nicely illustrates a connection between
land and sea, and captures the adventurous spirit which drives many of us
in our quest to explore beneath the waves. Additionally, the mermaid
pictured is my wife Melissa, my best friend and long-time dive buddy.
Q: How important was it for you to have a conservation chapter in this
A: Both the Publisher and I felt it very important to include a
conservation section. To only show pretty pictures, to only talk about the
beauty on the reef, is only telling part of the story. Though the marine
ecosystem is remarkably resistant, man has for too long taken the seaís
bounty for granted. The health of our planetís oceans needs to be
addressed now. There is so much at stake. In this book I felt obligated to
take a broader, more responsible view, and discuss many of the challenges
facing marine ecosystems worldwide. Those of us working beneath the waves
must speak for Oceanís inhabitants who cannot.
Q: Do you have a favorite marine animal that you like to photograph?
A: Tough question, but Iíd have to say itís a tie between cephalopods
(octopus and their kin, especially the mimic and giant Pacific octopus
species) and whales (humpbacks and orcas).
Q: What are your biggest challenges with underwater photography?
A: The challenges start with the obvious, such as keeping my cameras from
taking a bath, and maintaining finicky electronics through a gauntlet of
rigorous travel and hostile environmental conditions. Then they continue
with the need to dive safely when so much of oneís brain is focused on
f-stops and strobe output, and of course create interesting, beautiful,
emotive pictures along the way. And finally the challenges move into the
realm of succeeding in the business of photography, that is effectively
marketing the resulting pictures in order to pay the bills and keep moving
forward, growing oneís photo collection and traveling to the edges of
Earth. Iím pretty sure that med school and a career as a brain surgeon
would have been easier, less stressful, and certainly better for the bank
account. But not as rewarding in what really matters to me.
Q: What's next for Brandon Cole? What is your next project?
A: There are still many places to explore and animals to photograph, so my
bags will remain packed. I will be underwater in Micronesia during the
official release of Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life, and
returning to the Galapagos, Socorro, and the Bahamas shortly thereafter.
Iím considering a companion guide focusing on temperate waters, as well
as a book showcasing my encounters with charismatic megafauna. And in the
midst of all of this, Iím delving into video to add a new dimension to
LINK TO SAMPLE PHOTOS:
ORDER NOW AT AMAZON.COM:
Here's what people are saying:
Brandon Cole is one of the world's most accomplished
underwater photographers and certainly one of the most prolific.... He has
put a collection of his pictures together to form a useful guide to
tropical marine life. The text is by Scott Michael, a sometime scientific
consultant to National Geographic Explorer and Discovery Channel. Six
hundred pages make up a weighty volume measuring 16 x 18cm, and half of
that is reproduced in the conventional form of a fish-identification book,
with a photograph and details of an example of each species. However, much
of this book contains chapters on such issues as parental care in reef
fish, schooling and shoaling, venom and poison, and cleaner-fish ecology.
It even has an appropriately small section on algae. A major section
details the different coral reef communities found around the world...
There are chapters on elasmobranches, invertebrates, marine reptiles and
marine mammals and all are illustrated, almost without exception, with
beautiful pictures by Brandon Cole, although Scott Michael and a few
others have filled in the inevitable holes. The text is informative and
well sourced without being too wordy. (John Bantin Divernet (Diver
Magazine online) 2013-06-01)
Anyone fascinated by the underwater world will be
riveted by the photos in this richly illustrated guide... Readers can
lose themselves in the magnificent environment beneath the sea,
observing a parrot fish sleeping in its mucus cocoon and a manta ray
being cleaned by two remoras as a diver swims nearby... it is a
comprehensive resource on the many different aquatic species that make
their homes in and around the world's reefs. Each listing gives the
creature's dimensions, location and specific details about its behavior.
For snorkelers or divers who enjoy identifying the underwater life they
have seen, this well researched and impeccably documented book will be
an invaluable resource. (Publishers Weekly 2013-04-05)