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Book Reviews of Sorts:

The Marine Biology Coloring Book

 Thomas M. Niesen

 Barnes & Noble Books, A Division of Harper & Row, Publishers

1982, 209 pages, @$15.00.


by Bob Fenner


What? A coloring book? Yes, a coloring book. I have used this "text" in teaching University Extension, Junior College and advanced High School Marine Science classes for beachcombers, divers and folks with more than a casual/intuitive interest in marine life.

This wonderful book is divided into half text with the to-be-colored line drawing illustration facing the opposite page. Let me tell you, it works! As an educational and motivational mechanism, something magical happens when coloring pen/pencil touches paper; learning! These pages are 8 1/2 by eleven inches of suitable paper in a soft-bound format.

The actual Contents covers most introductory topics in some depth: Zonation, characterization of particular common biotopes, a systematic review of major groups, and notable aspects of their biology (reproduction, feeding strategies, coloration, life cycles, bioluminescence, competition, migration...) Fishes are especially well covered (as they should be!) with five pieces on bony fish diversity (fish morphology, pelagic, bottom dwelling, coral reef, mid-water & deep-sea fishes), four pieces on cartilaginous fishes; comparing shark and bony fish structure, sharks, rays and their relatives diversity. Coloration of fishes and invertebrates is nicely presented in eight pieces, reproduction: four, feeding: three. With ninety-six plates with writings you might realize there are numerous vignettes on invertebrate, algae an other areas.

The illustrators have done a very credible job of presenting the organisms in a dynamic fashion. It is obvious they have done their homework in studying live examples as the algae, plants, invertebrates, fishes and so-called "higher" vert.s are drawn as if alive.

And the text is admirably done as well. Thomas Niesen is an Associate (probably now a full) Professor of Marine Biology at San Francisco State U., teaching and doing research in marine bio. and ecology. Points are direct and clear, with no "filler". The accompanying text mixes in pertinent notes and coloring "instructions", easily massaging in valuable technical and hobbyist-important information as you "color-by-the-numbers".

What few detractions? Pagination would be great, especially considering the extensive work that went into the detailed Index. Though I bet you're as sick and tired as I am re how "we're defiling the planet", some gratuitous advice concerning returning rocks et al. to their original position if turned, permitting...is warranted, but missing. I would have positioned the respective aspects of biology pieces with the groups they pertain to rather as a post-classification event. To the editors' and author's credit, I found no (!) gross mis-identifications, mis-spellings, scientific mis-statements or gross omissions, and I'm very picky re these.

Marine Biology will make a favored gift to anyone with an interest in the seas and their life. Other works by the same group include Botany, Human Evolution, and Zoology. All are excellent, and suitable for (in my opinion) elementary on up. The manuscript may be above their heads, the drawing/coloring is not above anyone's. Check these out; available through general book stores and schools' Marine Biology makes for an enjoyable educational experience. You will find your own knowledge and appreciation for aquatics expanded considerably. Inspire a younger person and get one for yourself.

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