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ECO Review: Coral Reefs & Other Colorful Creatures

The intricate world of coral reefs is often challenging to describe with words alone: each of the world's largest reef systems has its own unique assortment of marine life and dynamic interactions that change as you move across and deeper into the ocean.

EM1 Coral Reefs 2Coral reefs are best to be seen, in order to appreciate their delicacy and importance. And for those of us suffering from a shortfall of reefs on our doorstep, illustrators Matt Halbein and Emily Brooks have created Coral Reefs & Other Colorful Creatures.

EM 2 Coral Reefs 3Even after completing our recent 160-page bumper special issue on Coral Reefs, I was excited to review this innovative folding 'book'.  

EM3 Coral Reefs 4Coral Reefs & Other Colorful Creatures is an immersive, educational guide taking booklovers on a tour through the world's four largest coral reef systems: the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Triangle, the Red Sea Coral Reef, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. 

EM4 Coral Reefs 5Removing the octagonal shell reveals a map and an 'Explorer's Guide' booklet tucked within the lid. With each unfolding of a 'page', beautiful illustrations help you visually explore the different reefs and discover over a hundred marine species along the way. The pocket-size Explorer's Guide contains short descriptions of each sea creature, which are displayed in 'layers' within the book, uncovering new groups of species with each unfolding. The first layer introduces you to bustling reef communities of fish, rays, and echinoderms. The last layer leads you down into the ocean depths to find deep-sea corals and bioluminescent organisms.

EM5 Coral Reefs 6Behind every beautiful portrayal of coral reefs, however, is the threat of pollution, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching. On the other side of each page, Halbein and Brooks depict the alternate darker future that could soon – and has already in some locations - become a reality for these picturesque ocean cities. The booklet further highlights the dangers these fragile habitats face and offers some simple advice on actions we can each take to reduce our own personal impact on these vitally important ecosystems.

Coral Reefs & Other Colorful Creatures cleverly incorporates science, art, and engineering to create an enjoyable and engaging resource for the future (and current) marine biologists of our time. My only regret is that my 6-month old can’t yet enjoy it as much as I do.

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