Secret Seas – Discover Oman’s unique underwater world

Secret Seas is a beautiful book which not only has gorgeous pictures but is awash with information on Oman, its seas and underwater life. Even the most experienced divers will learn from this book and all will be enchanted by the superb photography.

Whale shark in blue water
Whale shark in blue water

As the authors’ explain, the diving in Oman is truly unique. Nowhere else do you have kelp forests and coral gardens co-exisiting in the same spot. The seasonal coldwater upwellings in the south of Oman bring nutrients and ideal conditions for temperate giant seaweeds. By the end of August diving here would resemble diving in the UK or Norway, if it wasn’t for the presence of tropical fish and coral communities – many, like the Dhofar parrotfish, only found here. By the end of September though, the sea temperature rises and the algae start to disappear, once more revealing a tropical coral reef.


Omani clownfish on carpet anenome, amongst the growing seaweed

Oman is home to over 1600 species of fish and almost 200 species of coral. Four out of seven species of turtle nest here. The upwellings have led to many endemic species – which are found nowhere else in the world.

Turtles are generally solitary animals, except during the reproduction season when males chase females. This small cluster of five green turtles was very unusual and consisted of juveniles too busy feeding on algal turf to take notice of the photographer.

The book opens with a discussion of Oman and its history. It quickly progresses to the diving in the different parts of the country and in its different seas – the Arabian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Whereas the early sections contain much detail, from now on the fabulous photos take centre stage. These are annotated with fascinating bite-size details of behaviour or peculiarities. Each section of the book now focuses on one aspect of the underwater world, such as The Reef, Nudibranchs, Sharks and Rays, Cephalopods, Blue Water, Under the Rainbow and Threats to the Oceans.

The teira batfish (Platax teira) is often seen in schools, swimming near the surface above sunken reefs or pinnacles.

The reef section for example features stunning close ups of soft corals. Colours are shown both well lit by the photographer’s flash and sometimes also as they would be originally seen in natural light by a diver. Some of the photos are of species not yet described by scientists.

This colonial sea anemone is a parasite of whip corals.

Paul Flandinette has been an underwater photographer for about 20 years and has wanted to produce a professional quality underwater photographic book for as long as he can remember. In 2014 he received an underwater photography commission from Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth (as it was then known). Spread over six months this project gave him a detailed insight into the beauty and biodiversity of Oman’s underwater world. Paul says “It didn’t take me long to learn there was no photographic book on Oman’s underwater world. It’s rare to find any project that’s never been done before so, always up for a challenge, I began this journey which was to last over 7 years.

He continued “For my co-author Michel and me it’s not just about creating a beautiful and informative book. We hope that being part of the effort to promote Oman’s underwater world Secret Seas will help increase awareness of the need to conserve and protect this very special marine environment.

The lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) can grow up to three metres. They are found in shallow tropical waters and are known to return to specific nursery sites to breed

This really is a beautiful book. Absolutely essential if you plan to dive in Oman, but also really interesting and informative for any diver, regardless of their location. During a time whilst many of us cannot travel to dive, an inspiring book which helps us better understand the underwater world. This book is good both for experienced divers with a deep knowledge of marine life, and people just at the start of their diving adventure. Highly recommended.

Al-Munasir, an Oman Royal Navy ship was scuttled in 2002 to
provide divers with new diving opportunities. Such artificial
reefs increase the diversity and the biomass of fish by creating
new habitats. Bandar Al-Khiran

A hardcover book with 240 pages, the authors include 295 photographs and cover 160 species. Measuring 24 cm by 30 cm, it has been printed on 170gsm matt art paper using sustainably sourced papers. Secret Seas is available from the author – Paul Flandinette. It costs £36.85.

About the Authors

Paul Flandinette

Paul Flandinette

Paul Flandinette is an award-winning film maker, professional underwater photographer, author and artist. He is passionate about the underwater world and has dived extensively in the in the Far East, Red Sea, Caribbean and the UK. He has been living in Oman since 2013 and has spent the last seven years photographing Oman’s underwater world.

Michel Claereboudt

Michel Claereboudt is Professor of Marine Ecology at the Department of Marine Sciences and Fisheries at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. He is an internationally recognised authority on corals and echinoderms and continues to research the ecology and biology of corals and other reef invertebrates.

Michel has been living in Oman since 1997 where he has made thousands of dives and has an intimate knowledge of Oman’s underwater world that few can equal. He is also an underwater photographer.

More Images from Secret Seas

Ordering

Secret Seas
by Paul Flandinette and Michel Claereboudt
July 2021
ISBN: 978-99969-849-0-7
240 pages, £36.85


To order contact Paul Flandinette – secretseasofoman@gmail.com, +968 9138 2281. The book costs £36.85. Postage is £6.50 to the UK, £16.95 to the rest of Europe and £31.95 to the rest of the world.

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