A MARINE life identification guide has a lot to live up to (writes Paul Kay). I had some photographs of as-yet-unidentified marine creatures I had taken recently in waters covered by A Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa, so I sat down with a lightbox, magnifier, slides and the book. All bar two of my pictures were identifiable, which was impressive, because photos are not always easy to identify from drawings.
This is a fascinating reference book, crammed with intriguing colour drawings. Presentation is conventional, with each page of descriptions adjacent to a page of illustrations. The pictures are clear and of reasonable size. Text is obviously aimed at readers with some biological knowledge, and makes no attempt to steer away from the technical terms deemed necessary for identification.
At 448 pages this is a pretty comprehensive book, although even a solid softback like this can show only so much. It is a very good buy at 20. Flicking through the picture pages made me want to book a flight to the warm waters off eastern Africa. Talking of which, perhaps the only real drawback with this book is its weight...

A Guide to the Seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands, edited by Matthew D Richmond, Tylers Academic Books, 01248 372057. Softback £20.