Lost World

Bookshelf: Lost World

Lost World: The Marine Realm of Aldabra and the Seychelles – Thomas P. Peschak

I’m a big fan of Thomas Peschak’s work, and more than a little envious of his job (Chief Photographer for the Save Our Seas Foundation). This is the third of his books that I’ve read, the other two being South Africa’s Great White Shark and Wild Seas Secret Shores of Africa. He’s the photographer who took that iconic photo off the Cape coast of a researcher in a kayak, with a great white shark behind him.

Lost World
Lost World

In this book Peschak presents the results of several expeditions to the Seychelles, with particular focus on the Aldabra coral atoll (the world’s second largest) which is in the Aldabra group of islands. This region is as untouched by man as almost any other marine habitat on the planet, and is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna.

The chapters of the book cover Aldabra, seabirds, the interaction between man and nature in this region, and the life on the coral reef and in the lagoon. There’s a bit of text to introduce the bulk of the chapters (which is the photographs), and as usual Peschak manages to fit a surprising amount of information into the captions under the pictures, without seeming too didactic.

It’s lovely and awe-inspiring to see pictures of a region that is seemingly so unspoiled by man’s footprint. The only disturbing pictures in the book are of a manta ray caught by some local fishermen, a destroyed coral reef, and Fish Aggregating Devices – basically temporary artificial reefs erected by fishermen, who then return a while later and sweep up all the marine creatures (particularly pelagic fish such as tuna) that have taken shelter under the nets and buoys.

My favourite section, after the photographs themselves, was the appendix which described the circumstances under which each photograph was taken, the equipment used, and something about how (and if) the shot was conceived. Much of wildlife photography involves extreme patience, but luck also plays a large role. Peschak clearly delights in the interactions he experiences with the creatures that he photographs.

The photographs are magnificent – you can see a lot of them on Peschak’s website, here. There’s a punt for the book on the Save Our Seas website, too.

You can buy the book here if you’re in South Africa. If you’re overseas, go here.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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