Review of ‘Australian Sea Life’
The gorgeous large format of this latest offering from Matt Chun just adds to the list of reasons why this book is utterly giftable and utterly coffee table worthy. Dr Sam Lloyd reviews ‘Australian Sea Life’ for us below. You can see all Sam’s Science based reviews by searching her name or clicking on her category tag.
Title: ‘Australian Sea Life’
Reviewer: Dr Sam Lloyd
Illustrator/Author/Design: Matt Chun with Ella Meave and Pooja Desai
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Themes: Australian native marine organisms, habitat, food, behaviour and biology
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‘Australian Sea Life’
In ‘Australian Sea Life’, Matt Chun delivers another gift-worthy book with stunning illustrations. The depth of colour and variety of patterns in Australia’s rich ocean life has allowed Matt to create beautifully detailed illustrations that capture the essence of some of Australia’s most iconic marine creatures.
As with ‘Australian Birds’, I found the text informative and accessible for middle to late primary school children, high school students or anyone with a general interest in our ocean creatures. Although, given the accuracy and relevance of the information for each species, I don’t understand why they have not included scientific names (or family names). Regardless, it’s a perfect gift book for anyone with an interest or passion for the ocean.
My favourite sea creatures in the book are the fanfin anglerfish, nudibranch and weedy sea dragon. I just love the fanfin anglerfish; artists and movie directors wish they could come up with something that looks as scary as this…but nature did it first! Even better, they can bioluminesce, which means they can produce light in the pitch black of the very deep ocean. They use this light to attract prey, aided by huge mouths with very pointy teeth.
Nudibranch are an intriguing and beautiful type of sea slug common in and around reefs. They often have spikes, feathery tails, frills and horns with bright colours and beautiful patterns. Their bright patterns are often a warning to predators that they are toxic.
Like so many marine creatures, weedy sea dragons are so beautiful they seem equally at home in May Gibbs’ ‘Little Obelia’ as they do in the ocean. Weedy sea dragons are delicate, beautiful creatures, whose bodies, (as the name implies) are adorned with many colourful leafy shapes.
Weedy sea dragons are endemic to Australia, which means they are not found anywhere else in the world. After mating, males carry hundreds of eggs in a spongy area beneath their tails. There are loads of great YouTube clips on weedy sea dragons (and countless other marine creatures), but this one is particularly good.
If you are interested in learning more about Australian sea life, or just want pore over beautiful photos, then visit the review I wrote on ‘Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching’, where I have included some links to marine websites with amazing photos (and comprehensive information).
A Note on Citizen Science
Citizen science is the collection and analysis of data on the natural world by members of the general public, usually part of a collaborative project or program with professional scientists. There are loads of very accessible citizen science projects that are perfect to share with your children. My favourite is the Wild Pollinator Count, these surveys happen twice a year (March and September) and can easily be done in your garden with your little person.
If you enjoy snorkelling and diving, then you might like to consider volunteering for Reef Check Australia. Reef Check Australia (RCA) is a not-for-profit organisation that works with community volunteers to better understand, appreciate and protect oceans and marine environments.
RCA focuses on citizen science to conduct surveys on Australian reef ecosystems. Volunteers participate in snorkelling and diving surveys in south-east Qld, the Great Barrier Reef and Western Australia. If you enjoy observing marine life this is definitely the volunteer gig for you! I have witnessed first-hand the outstanding work of this organisation and its volunteers and can highly recommend getting involved.
Other marine-based citizen science programs in south-east Qld include the highly successful:
• MangroveWatch – a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on the research, education and conservation of mangrove and tidal wetland environments globally.
• Coolum and North Shore Coast Care – not-for-profit group of volunteers committed to the care and preservation of the natural environment on the Sunshine Coast Australia.
• Sunshine Coast Turtle Care – volunteer program aims to sustain an ongoing marine turtle monitoring program. The goal is to identify and record species, nesting locations, frequency and success rates of nesting activity.
• Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association – not-for-profit group of volunteers who care for the environment of Bribie Island and the surrounding area.
• Nudibranchs Sunshine Coast, Qld – volunteer program who aim to locate, record, identify and post (on the website) every species of nudibranchs and their snail-related cousins to be found on the Sunshine Coast Queensland, Australia.
For more examples of citizen science projects or programs you can get involved in, take a look at the review I wrote for ‘Australian Birds’.
Dr Samantha Lloyd is an ecologist and environmental manager with a passion for the Australian bush, children’s literature, dance, music and baking.
Having graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Science (Biology), 1st Class Honours in 1998 and a PhD (pollination ecology) in 2006, Sam has worked as an environmental manager for the SEQ regional NRM body; as an entomologist for the Australian and New Zealand Fire Ant Control Programs; and as Coordinator of the Moreton Bay Oil Spill Environmental Restoration Program.
Sam’s long-standing daytime gig is as Manager of the South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, with bushfire ecology and awareness being another of her passions.