Currents of Contrast

Bookshelf: Currents of Contrast

Currents of Contrast: Live in Southern Africa’s Two Oceans – Thomas Peschak

Currents of Contrast
Currents of Contrast

This is another beautiful production by the brilliant Thomas Peschak. He is the author of Lost World, South Africa’s Great White Shark, and Wild Seas Secret Shores of Africa.  He is a brilliant photographer, with a deep knowledge of and love for the marine world. His day job is official photographer for the Save Our Seas Foundation.

Currents of Contrast is divided in two parts, one concerned with the cold Benguella current that runs up the west coast of Southern Africa, and the second with the warm Agulhas current that runs down the east and south coast. The first section is longer, which I liked because I’m a cold water girl and have a real soft spot for diving in Cape Town.

Peschak admits that the bewildering diversity of life on the Southern African coast means that he had to choose what to exclude from the book. He has sections on great white sharks, seabirds, seals, kelp forests, Cape clawless otters, and – to my initial surprise – limpets. These unassuming creatures turn out to be completely fascinating, and I look forward to my next excursion to the rocky shores at St James to stalk some of these incredibly well-adapted molluscs.

The second half of the book, on the warm oceans off the south and east coast of South Africa, feels a bit rushed. There is more block text and fewer sidebars.The sections on the Thembe Tonga people are wonderful and show a community now living in relative harmony with the ocean. Peschak has spent a lot of time in their villages and is well accepted.

Peschak has clearly developed his photographic skills since he wrote this book, but the pictures are nonetheless wonderful and varied. This is a tremendous addition to any bookshelf on Southern Africa’s marine life, particularly the cold coast.

This book is out of print – an absolute travesty for something of this quality, published only a few years ago. You can try Abe Books or Andrew Isles, if your local secondhand bookstore doesn’t have it.

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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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