The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef
Helen Scales and Lisk Feng
Flying Eye Books

Located off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, the subject of this large format book, truly is one the world’s natural wonders. We read first about how the reef was formed and are introduced to the different types of coral, their structures, and how corals can multiply and spread. In order to discover the reef close up though, it’s necessary to be a qualified diver and scientists now have sophisticated equipment allowing them to spend longer and to go down deeper than ever, as is explained in one of the early spreads.

The second of its five sections is entitled Reef Dwellers and therein readers are introduced to the inhabitants both fauna and flora – of the reef and its environs. 

It’s truly amazing just how many fascinating species live on and around the reef from small molluscs to mammals such as whales, some of them in symbiotic partnerships; one tiny reef island, Michaelmas Cay is home to thousands of birds. I was surprised to discover that night is often the most active time on the reef when a wonderful array of nocturnal creatures are hunting.

It’s not only the reef ’s natural history we learn of though. There’s also information about the culture and traditions of the Aborigines and Torres Straight islands.

Unfortunately however the reef is under threat, due largely to climate change as a result of the burning of fossil fuels : an increase in ocean temperatures and acidification endanger its very survival and that of the marine life that depends on it. The book ends with a look at what has already happened and what can be done to save the reef.

Throughout, the author, marine biologist Dr Helen Scales shares her knowledge and enthusiasm writing in an accessible style that will enthral primary age readers. Arresting illustrations by Lisk Feng showcase the awesome array of life of this remarkable World Heritage Site, while the entire design of the book is of the exemplary quality one associates with Flying Eye publications.

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