Newcomer this year is UK Dive Guide: Diving Guide to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales by Patrick Shier. The first time a British dive site guide has made it.
All the books (and the single DVD featured) are either guides to dive sites or sealife indentification books. Diving novels, histories and memoirs have fallen out of favour.
Funnily enough, of all the authors writing diving books today, two author collaborations appear twice in the list: Lieske and Myers with their fish identification guides, and Beth and Shaun Tierney with their diving guides.
Here are the top ten. The list is compiled from sales made through the SCUBA Travel site. Books bought both new and second-hand are included in the figures.
8. Diving the World by Beth and Shaun Tierney Husband-and-wife team Beth and Shaun Tierney are another pair who have two entries in the list. They have selected, reviewed and photographed over 200 tropical sites for Diving the World, and released a fully updated and expanded third edition this month. (6)
Along with her husband Shaun, Beth Tierney is co-author of the popular Diving the World. Jill Studholme interviewed her for SCUBA News.
What makes your book different from other books about diving around the world?
There are two principals we have stuck to ever since the first edition. Right from the start, we asked other divers where they had been and where they were diving next. And then we focused on those places people actually want to go to and can afford to go to. Let’s face it, we would all love to dive the Antarctic, but few of us will win the lottery this week! The other thing is that we can say – hand on heart – that there is nothing in the book that we haven’t personally done. If we haven’t dived the country or a specific site, we don’t write about it or pass opinion. It makes the guide unique. Yes, it is personal to us and our experiences but at least readers know we have said it because we have done it!
Blue ringed octopus
This is the third edition – did you have to revisit all the dive sites in the original book and have you added any new areas to the book?
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing! I love the idea of going back to everywhere again, but sadly, that’s not practical for every edition. However, we have dived almost everywhere more than once and revisited some places specifically to make sure we are up-to-date. Jordan is a good example, it was our first ever foray into the Red Sea but it didn’t go into the first two editions. However, this time around, we found it was hitting more wish lists so we went back and checked it out. And yes, it was as good as we remembered it.
Where would you like to dive next?
Always a hard one as we tend to hold off making plans to see what new things crop up – if a different destination or new liveaboard appears, we can just hop on. However, we are both quite keen to go back to Papua New Guinea where there is a mix of reefs and wrecks and it is never that busy. We would both like to revisit Truk Lagoon or perhaps explore the Malpelo in the Eastern Pacific.
Do you have a worst diving experience?
We have been fortunate to never have any really serious dramas, although there have been plenty of small ones that make hilarious dinnertime tales. As for bad dive experiences, the hardest one was a dive in the far south of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. We were heading for a pinnacle beyond the surf zone with no land in sight. When we reached it and entered the water, all was calm but as soon as we reached about 25 metres there was a phenomenal tidal change that hit the pinnacle as a 5 or 6 metre surge. One minute we would be at 24 metres, and then in seconds were thrown up to 18 before dropping rapidly to over 30 metres. It was terrifying and hilarious all at once. Trying to abort a dive like that is nigh on impossible too as our computers screeched non-stop. We ended up clinging to rocks on the pinnacle and slowly working our way up, ending with just 12 minutes of deco-time. Phew.
Great photos are a hallmark of your books, what photographic equipment do you use?
The images in the book have been taken over quite a few years so some were on film. Way back when, Shaun used a Nikonos V and a Nikon F90 in a Sea and Sea Housing. When he went over to the dark side (oops, digital), he stuck with Sea and Sea housings as he feels they are the most ergonomic and simple, incredibly well built but good value. His first digital SLR camera was a Nikon D200 and he has a D300 as well.
Now that the new book is finished, what projects have you in the pipeline?
At the moment, we are working on converting our previous guide, Diving Southeast Asia to a digital version. This means going back over all the factual content to ensure it is still correct (or fix what has changed) then we also updating the operator listings. We are hoping it will be available before Christmas this year.
What do you do for recreation when you are not diving?
We’ve recently bought a new house in the wilds of Dorset (UK), so life is currently all to do with renovating and gardening. We are lucky enough to have a stream though, with all sorts of wonderful wildlife – crayfish, kingfishers and water voles – so we are not completely missing the marine world. I am contemplating putting my Canon S110 in it’s housing to see what I can get when I go paddling!
Most people would like your job – diving exotic places and writing about it – how did you get into it?
Way back in the 80s we did a round-the-world trek spending long spells in the tropics, floating over vivid coral reefs and wishing we were down below with the divers. At the time our budget didn’t extend to learning to dive but within months of returning to London we signed up for a BSAC course, did our first open water dives in the Maldives and our qualification dives in Cyprus.
As the years went by, we became increasingly involved in the diving world as a photojournalist team: Shaun’s first career was as a studio photographer and Beth worked in advertising and marketing as a consultant to the travel industry. In the early ’90s, we took a ‘career break’ and aimed to dive our way around the world. We didn’t manage to see as much as we wanted but it was a great year.
Since then, we have become PADI Master Scuba Divers and our work has become increasingly focused on dive travel books plus we run SeaFocus.com.
Diving the World Third Edition
You can order a signed copy of Diving the World from the Tierneys’ Sea Focus website. It is also available with 49% off from Amazon.
As well as information about over 275 dive sites, the book covers: local customs; suggestions for dive centres, accommodation and restaurants; information on what to do when you’re not diving (useful for non-divers travelling with you) and anecdotes about the diving. The authors have dived, reviewed and photographed every site in the book.
“My theory on choosing dive companies via the internet is simple: if the pictures of divers have happy expressions and there is at least one photo of an ocean-loving dog on the site, the dive shop has to be good” writes Karen Begelfer in her book Manta Rays and Margaritas.
A quirky way of choosing a dive shop maybe, but as the last two diving centres I’ve used both had dogs I think Karen Begelfer may be onto something.
Descriptive and charming, in this book Karen Begelfer tells of her diving travels from learning to dive, getting hooked and visiting both out-of-the-way and popular destinations. This is no run-of-the-mill account someone else’s diving adventures: it sparkles along.
Thirteen chapters cover Australia, Bora Bora, Bahamas, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Moorea, Hawaii, Micronesia, Belize, Palau and the Cayman Islands.
The author writes well and includes well-researched historical, and geographical, context to the places she has visited. I love her descriptions. “Angry green vipers with full body mohawks…long green ribbons of muscle undulating through the water” makes a perfect vision of a Giant Moray. Crown-of-Thorns starfish are like “leggy pincushions”.
SCUBA Travel have published their annual list of the bestselling diving books and dvds in 2013. Dive Atlas of the World regains its number one spot, after dropping to number five on the list last year. Diving Southeast Asia is a notable re-entry – not seen in the top ten since its publication date of 2009. There are also several completely new entries. Almost all the books (and the single DVD featured) are either highlights of the best diving around the world, or are sealife guides. The notable exception is North Sea Divers – A Requiem. Here are the top ten: figures in brackets show the previous year’s position. If we’ve reviewed a book, we link to the review. Otherwise the links go to the cheapest place we’ve found for you to buy the book.
North Sea Divers – A Requiem There have been professional divers in the North Sea since oil exploration began in the 1960s. And since then there have been 58 deaths while diving. The author of North Sea Divers – A Requiem wanted to create a memorial to these divers, whilst at the same time providing a useful text for anyone considering a career as an offshore diver. (–)
Did you know that almost all hand creams contains plastic granules, added as an exfoliant? These granules end up washed out to sea. Here they gather toxins on their surface before being eaten by plankton who mistake them for fish eggs. From plankton they pass up the food chain and back to us. Just one of alarming ways in which we are needlessly damaging the oceans
In his book “Ocean of Life“, Professor Callum Roberts details threats posed by the cosmetic industry, fishing, noise, rising sea-levels, global warming, acidification, fish farming and so on. Towards the end of the book, just when you’re beginning to think the state of the seas is hopeless, he provides a series of simple solutions to reverse the damage and protect the oceans.
The book includes 58 photos. The first three graphically emphasise the massive reduction of fish size over the past 50 years. they show a recreational fish catch in Key West, Florida in the 1950s, 70s and 2007. From many fish as big as the fisherman in the 1950s, to still lots of fish but considerably smaller in the 70s to much fewer and even smaller fish in the present day. The book makes the point that corporate greed is destroying fishermens’ livelihood and fishing industry representatives are in denial. Amazingly, in 1889 fishermen caught more than twice as many bottom fish (cod, haddock, plaice and the like) as today. For every hour spent fishing today – with all our electronic gadgets to find the fish – fishermen land just 6% of what they did 120 years ago!
Roberts suggests remedies ranging from the global – such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which has been signed by most of the world’s nations – to local – such as beach clean-ups by volunteers to remove the plastic before it gets into the sea. Placing areas off-limits has proven time and again to be a powerful tool: we need interconnected safe havens. Luckily, more and more nations are now creating marine proteced areas.
I highly recommend this book. In fact, I think it should be required reading for every politician. The points are made with stories and anecdotes in an extremely clear way. The science is there to back the stories up, but no scientific knowledge is required to understand the points being made. Callum Roberts succeeds in presenting his case in a way that is open to everyone. One of the best books of this year. Buy it. You will find it both fascinating and shocking.
About the Author:
Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. He has been a visiting Professor at Harvard and was consultant to the BBC’s Blue Planet.
On Midsummers Day in 1919, a German Admiral ordered the German High Seas Fleet to be scuttled. Seventy-four German ships had been anchored at the Orkney Islands of Scotland. They were sunk to prevent them being divided up amongst the allies. Many of the ships were recovered for salvage; but those remaining submerged have helped make Scapa Flow into one of the most popular dive sites in Europe.
Lawson Wood’s latest book is a comprehensive guide to diving Scapa Flow. The book begins with an introduction to the Orkneys and a history of the German High Seas Fleet. It goes on to cover travelling to, and staying in, Scapa. The rest of the book is a guide to the diving
It is a very extensive guide covering 75 wrecks and 9 reefs. Wood gives the history of each wreck and has plenty of photographs of the dives and the ships. He also provides sea-bed scans of the wrecks and detailed descriptions of each dive site. For each site there is a key points box with a summary of vital information such as location, depth, access and diving experience required.
Many divers assume that you must be extremely experienced to dive Scapa Flow, but the book makes plain that even novice divers can enjoy a good diving holiday there. All of the Motor Torpedo Boats and Blockships are in less than 18 m (60 ft) with many in less than 9 m (30 ft). Lawson Wood rates these as “quite possibly some of the best shallow shipwrecks in the world”.
If you are considering going to Scapa Flow then this book is a must. I would buy it well in advance to help you prepare for the trip, deciding where to dive and what equipment to take. It is a great diving guide which is a blend of detailed diving information, wreck history and local information.
About the Author Lawson Wood has written more than 40 historical and diving guides, including the successful Shipwrecks of the Cayman Islands. He is a founding member of the Marine Conservation Society and founder of the St.Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Nature Reserve in Scotland. He made photographic history by becoming a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photographers solely for underwater photography. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Review by Andrew Reay-Robinson
The Scapa Flow Dive Guide is available from Aquapress, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Nigel Pickford, bestselling author of Atlas of Shipwreck and Treasure, has just had his new book published by Chatham Publishing.
Lost Treasure Ships of the Northern Seas takes a closer look at some of the thousands of wrecks that still lie undiscovered in the relatively shallow waters of the North Sea and the Baltic, and identifies more than 300 such sites, giving concise details of ship, voyage, cargo and current state of knowledge. This represents a large proportion of the most valuable wrecks in the designated area. A significant proportion may be regarded as high-value – either in financial terms or because of their potential contribution to historical knowledge – but few have been precisely located.
The book contains a fascinating gazetteer of all these sites and offers a treasure-trove of information for divers and armchair adventurers.
In addition, there are fifteen chapters, each a case-study of a different wreck, chosen to illustrate the range of problems – and rewards – likely to be encountered when treasure hunting, and these offer invaluable lessons to divers. They include a wide variety of ship types, from a Roman trading vessel to a German liner sunk in the Baltic by the Russians in 1945.
Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white, this new book is a practical guide for divers, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the maritime history of a region where ships have fought and traded for thousands of years.
LOST TREASURE SHIPS OF THE NORTHERN SEAS: A Guide and Gazetteer to 2000 Years of Shipwreck is now available in bookshops, through the Chatham Publishing web site, from Amazon, or can be ordered by ‘phone on 020 8458 6314.
Joyce Huber’s first book was a travel guide for divers titled Best Dives of the Caribbean. The original was published in 1988, but an updated version is out this month.
This first diving book spawned another on the sea – Best Dives’ Snorkeling Adventures. This came about when she put her email address in an edition of the diving book, and was inundated with questions. Not from divers but from snorkellers.
After many nights staying up until 3 am answering the e-mails, Huber decided the snorkellers should have their own book. Her publisher, Michael Hunter, didn’t see a market in snorkelling, but she had worked in print for so many years that it seemed simple enough for her to put a snorkelling guide together for them. It is now in its third edition.
Her scuba diving guide has been in need of an upate for a few years – but she put it on hold as her co-author/dive buddy/husband was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2002. He died in 2003. She was so devastated she did nothing till 2005. His name as co-author is on the new edition of the guide as he contributed much time to it.
The first dive book was the result of 20 years of dive travel and note taking. Back in the 1970’s, Joyce and her husband Jon put on slide shows of underwater sites for their local dive club. Friends asked about places to stay, best time of year, where to eat etc. It grew into a book from there.
Joyce signed a contract with Dodd Mead publishing, but the publishing company folded. Putnam Publishing bought out the contract. They dropped “Best Dives”. Since she was a new writer, she hired a crusty editor – Eliot Tozer – to make the book more saleable. He got hooked on the subject and took off for Bermuda for a resort course. He nearly drowned when his mustache let water in his mask.
Simon and Schuster’s editor then wanted the book, but she was over-ruled as no one had ever published a dive-travel guide and they didn’t want to be the first. Meanwhile, Michael Hunter started a travel book company. He moved to south Florida and lived on the beach where he saw lots of divers going in and out of the ocean so he figured there must be a market. He published the first Best Dives book in 1988 and it was an instant success. “We meant it to be for new divers” says Joyce “but everyone loved it.”
You might imagine that writers on diving have been a major influence on Joyce Huber, but oddly enough she sites instead people from Flying Magaine and Aviation International News. She worked on aviation magazines as an art director for many years and in corporate and general aviation doing promotional work. She is a licensed seaplane pilot.
Huber grew up in northeastern New Jersey, an area that is a suburb of New York City. She spent summers in south Jersey swimming and beach-combing and watching seaplanes. After studying art at Pratt Institute and the Art Students League she worked as everything from a fashion designer to a mural painter. She went back to school for writing specifically to do the dive books when she was 35 years old. She’s now 58 now.
Joyce Huber’s books are available from Amazon, with up to 35% off.
New World Publications have just released Sea Salt: Memories and Essays by Stan Waterman, recounting his 50 years of filming sharks and other exciting marine life. Read first hand accounts of diving with sharks in the open ocean (out of the cage) and filming them for the movies Blue Water, White Death the Deep and more. In 1994 the Discovery Channel presented a two hour special about The Man Who Loves Sharks, Emmy Award winning underwater filmmaker Stan Waterman.
Faced with a decision in life to remain a blueberry farmer and lead a modest life, or take a chance for a bit of adventure like his heroes Hans Hass and Jacques Cousteau, Waterman chose the latter. In 1951 he purchased his first Aqualung underwater breathing system and took his first step toward a life-long career in the underwater world. Soon thereafter he commissioned the building of a forty-foot dive boat, packed up the family and angled the bow toward the Bahamas to start a life in the diving business.
Waterman is the true legendary gentleman of diving. “… And not just a gentleman but a filmmaker, an adventurer, an explorer, a daredevil, a gallant, a poet, an intimate of creatures as exquisitely exotic as the leafy sea dragon and the sloe-eyed cuttlefish and – this above all – a true pioneer in the discovery of our last frontier, the sea. Stan Waterman has spent more than half a century in, on and under the sea, and in these pages he takes you with him on the amazing ride he calls his life. There is excitement enough in his encounters with wild animals and weird people to fill a hundred lives and all their fantasies. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive in the open ocean with a huge school of … sharks as they gorge on the carcass of a whale … at night? Probably not. But hang on, because when Stan recounts scenes from the filming of the classic 1971 documentary feature film, Blue Water, White Death, you’ll be there beside him, and astonished that anyone lived to tell the tale.”– from foreword by Peter Benchley (Author of Jaws).
Sea Salt: Memories and Essays begins with Stan’s haunting recollection of the contents of his home on the coast of Maine that succumbed to a fire in 1994. Through his description of treasures and artifacts from his world travels that filled the old Maine house, he leads you on adventures to the Aegean Sea, the Amazon, Polynesia, Solomon Islands, Aldabra, Cocos Keeling and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The second half of the book is a collection of his writings (most originally published in Ocean Realm magazine in the 1990’s) describing his adventures underwater. Vivid descriptions of encounters with a “monster” in the Caribbean, sea dragons in New Guinea, 62 whale sharks in Australia, a shark feeding frenzy in the Socorro Islands, his manta ray riding son (pictured in National Geographic), many different shark encounters and stories from his various expeditions around the globe.
Stan’s filmmaking career was launched in 1965 when National Geographic purchased rights to his family’s tropical odyssey in Tahiti. In 1968 he collaborated with Peter Gimbel on the classic shark movie Blue Water, White Death, and then later directed underwater photography for the film version of The Deep. It was during his ten years of production work with Peter Benchley for ABC’s American Sportsman that he garnered five Emmy Awards (more than any other underwater filmmaker).
Are you thinking about a career in commercial diving? If so read “The Simple Guide to Commercial Diving”. Barsky and Christensen’s book covers the skills and attitudes needed by a successful commercial diver in a straight-forward and forthright way.
The book starts with a scary warning page before you even get to the contents, summarising the physical and emotional dangers of commercial diving. Once you get past that it describes the training you need to be a commercial diver, the types of work the divers do, the equipment used and the the attitude you need to be successful. The book is amply illustrated with 160 black and white photos and diagrams.
At the end of each chapter the authors elegantly illustrate their points by recounting their own experiences: foolish dives they shouldn’t have done, near misses, equipment failures…
If one of the lines in the book is true: “The more you know the longer you live” then any aspiring commercial diver should buy this book for the insight and advice it provides.
Steve Barsky started diving in 1965 and was certified as a diving instructor in 1970. He trained as a commercial diver between 1974 and 1976. He has since worked as a diver in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, before moving to first Diving Systems International then Viking Dry Suits. In 1989 he started his consulting company – Marine Marketing and Consulting. He has written 16 books and in 1999 formed the publishing company Hammerhead Press.
Bob Christensen was a US Navy diver before becoming a commercial diver. In 1969 he was invited to become an instructor at the Marine Diving Technician Program in Santa Barbara. He ultimately taught in this program for 16 years before retiring in 1985. A few years into retirement Bob started working with Kirby Morgan Diving Systems Inc and is still associated with them.