Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific Paperback – Oct 1 2003
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A comprehensive fish identification guide covering the fish-rich reefs of the Pacific. 2,500 underwater photographs of 2,000 species from 4 of the best marine authors/photographers in the business. Every effort has been made to group similar appearing species together.
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The only drawback we find is the bizarre choice of common names. There are already a plethora of other books out there with common names fairly well established in Fiji by Lieske&Meyers. Seems to follow more of an Australian theme for these than the prevous Paul Humman books which use the American common names.
But overal a MUST for any diver who visits the Tropical Pacific. If you use it in conjunction with Lieske&Meyers then if you don;t find the fish you're looking at, prepare to be published!
However, though it's the best book for tropical Pacific fish IDing, I did find that I needed to cross-reference it with several others in ambiguous cases (and many cases were ambiguous!)--particularly one Aussie book that uses paintings instead of photos: "Marine Fishes of South-East Asia" by Gerry Allen (though this book often uses different common names, so you'll have to go by scientific names in many cases to correlate it with American texts). Sometimes a painting can highlight features a particular photo won't show clearly. And this book shows some interesting fish that aren't strictly coral reef fish, which nevertheless you might see on a trip (think mahi-mahi, flying fish etc.).
Lastly, you should also have a general underwater guide, for 3 reasons: (1) this is what you should actually bring with you on a trip, leaving larger, heavier, more specialized books like the one being reviewed here at home (especially with current luggage weight restrictions). (2) A general guide, such as "Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Guide" by Dr. Gerald R. Allen & Roger Steene, also has everything from corals to sea snakes. (3) Any given fish you see is probably a common one; a general guide will only show common fish. So you'll generally want to look here first.
The book I'm reviewing here is organized for identification rather than scientifically. It uses 20 ID groups, such as "disk-shaped/colorful" and "odd-shaped bottom dwellers." This is appropriate since it's a fish ID book.
If you dive in Pacific/Asian waters--and that's the best diving on Earth in my experience--and you'd really like to know what the heck you saw--get this book.
If you are looking for good fish books for Baja, my choices (out of the dozen or so I own) are:
Reef Fish Identification: Baja to Panama -- If I had to pick just one, this would be it. It's really designed for identification and some of the others are better to learn about the fish once you've identified it. Tons of color photos.
Sea of Cortez Marine Animals: A Guide to the Common Fishes and Invertebrates Baja California to Panama -- A good compromise between identification and learning about the fish. Covers most of the common fish, but not as many as the above. Uses color photos.
Reef Fishes of the Sea of Cortez: The Rocky-Shore Fishes of the Gulf of -- Best book to learn about the fish, but not as strong on ID. Covers a lot of fish. Some color photos, other B&W photos, many drawings.
Fishes of the Pacific Coast: Alaska to Peru, Including the Gulf of California and the Galapagos Islands -- Inexpensive, pocket-sized book, color drawings, short info on each fish. Best book for edibility information.
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