Secrets of the Sea

Secrets of the Sea 

Robert Vennell 

Harper Collins 

RRP $55-Hardback 

Reviewed by Daryl Crimp

Being an island nation, we are all connected to the sea in some way and its value to our culture, history and psyche is immense. Fish and shellfish are as intrinsic to the Kiwi way of life as number 8 wire, yet we tend to take it for granted; it’s there and it continues to give.

This beautifully crafted hardcover book presents a kaleidoscope of our rich coastal oceans, delving into interesting exposés and asides on history, culture, taxonomy and more. For example, did you know that John Dory were traded with Captain Cook on the HMS Endeavour in 1769, or that Māori considered kingfish Te Ika Rangitira— the most delicious species in Aotearoa, or that leatherjacket or kōkiri eat foods that no other fish eat, and that their spine is thrust up when they’re alarmed and locked into place by a second ‘trigger spine’?

This is a fascinating read and quite different from others in this genre. Production values are superb: crisp concise layout abundantly supported with interesting photographs and illustrations. It’s accessible too—easy to read and of wide appeal. The perfect Christmas gift.

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