CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 39. . . .June 7, 2013
Author and ocean researcher Erich Hoyt has produced an amazing book about the sea creatures from the deepest levels of the ocean. The discoveries from that part of our planet are only beginning to be made. In fact, some of the creatures in this book are not yet officially named. They are new, unidentified species! Hoyt has written over 18 books about the sea. Other titles include Orca: The Killer Whale, Creatures of the Deep, and Whale Rescue.
Weird Sea Creatures begins with an interesting introduction which explains the pressures found in the deep ecosystem and the adaptations the creatures have made in order to survive and flourish. Many have developed unique strategies to find food and their mates and to communicate with each other. Two fascinating methods are the use of light-producing organs called photophones and pigment cells called chromatophores. Other creatures use tricks or lures to attract their food. Key to their survival is their ability to attract food while preventing their predators from seeing them. Some have invisibility until they reach a certain depth, and then they glow like a neon light!
The bright and colourful over-sized photographs, which are set on a deep-sea black background, simply pop from the page, allowing one to imagine how these creatures would appear in the ocean. Each photo is accompanied by a short description of the creature, stating the depth at which it is found and its size, which could be as tiny as 1/24 of an inch or 1mm in length! The pictures make them seem like they are big enough to fit in your hand! The photos were not taken easily. Special collecting devices were lowered into the water at specific depths. The collected creatures were transferred to salt water aquariums in a chilled lab. Special flash lighting was used to take the photos against a black velvet background. Of note, none of the photos has been photo-shopped. These photos are true to the creatures’ actual features!
The creature descriptions are written for older students and adults but with younger readers in mind. For example, “… the Piglet Squid has a face like the character in Winnie the Pooh….” Such wording will make the reader take a second look at the picture. The Pram Bug is “a shrimp-like amphipod that inspired the design for the monster in the movie Alien. It is all arms and legs, including big claws and two sets of eyes to hunt prey.” Some interesting creatures found in this book include: the Wavy Clio, the Yeti Crab (discovered in 2011), the Fangtooth (which can open its mouth 180 degrees), the Black Dragonfish, and the Northern Stoplight Loosejaw that looks like a trap and can shine a red spotlight on its prey. While the introduction and some of the captions make for a challenging read for younger people, the photos are awesomely intriguing. Weird Sea Creatures would make a wonderful addition to an ocean life collection or a special gift to a future oceanographer.
Sherry Faller is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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