"Here is a scientist, like
very few, who you can understand, who dazzles his audience with the
fascinating world of the coral reef. His message is conveyed eloquently
in both words and images. We will learn that in the coral city there
is no waste, that everything is a resource. He will help us understand
how nature works—that it can work for you or against you and that
it does all of this complex and laborious work for free! He invites
you to enter the world he loves. He will make us care for it, as we
should, for the well-being of our species."
—Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ocean
"This book is so brilliantly
beautiful and informative. One only wishes for scuba gear to become
part of Dr. Murphy's coral reefs."
—George Plimpton, Author
"How pleased I am to see this marvelous work.... You have produced a most unusual hybrid-part reef text-book, part entertainment, educational, and awe inspiring.... I can only hope that this volume receives the praise it deserves and that it will be in libraries worldwide to dazzle, inspire, and inform."
—Robert N. Ginsburg, Professor of Marine Geology,
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
"With his magnificent narrative and never-before seen underwater photography, Dr. Richard Murphy conveys his exhilaration and excitement of science, the challenge of adventure and the search for preservation of the coral reefs.... In this book, he offers thought provoking, wise, and amusing comparisons of life in coral reefs to life in London, New York, or any other city you might know.
Coral Reefs is a gift to all generations who love nature and wish to preserve its beauty."
—Zale Parry, Ambassador of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences
"Dr. Richard C. Murphy has combined over 30 years of underwater observation, much of it diving with Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau, with unique photographs to create his brilliant new book. Coral Reefs: Cities Under the
Sea. .... The book clearly explains the economic, ecological, and spiritual value of coral reefs and why every human being should be concerned that reefs are facing an unprecedented crisis due to human impacts of over-fishing, pollution, and sedimentation....
Coral Reefs is the best illustrated and most informative book aimed at the general reader that I have read on the subject."
—Dr Gregor Hodgson, Director, Reef Check Institute of the Environment, UCLA
"Dr. Murphy, an internationally renowned scientist who has dedicated his life to
saving reefs, brings this concept home to stunning effect. His photographs are
consistently exquisite page after page. The images in this collection remind us
of the visual and intellectual appeal of coral reefs, and what is at stake if we
don't take steps to save them the globe over. Dr. Murphy's expert knowledge and
sharp eye enlivens reefs through the fascinating and accurate images and
text—reinforcing their simple lessons of collaboration and symbiosis, painting
the stories of reef creatures in all their abstract colour and seeming illusion.
I only wish this book could be given to all those who doubt why saving coral
reefs is important. How could you justify destroying such intricate beauty?"
—Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor and Director, Centre for Marine Studies, The
University of Queensland, Australia
"This book provides a sophisticated, scientific and up-to-date perspective of coral reefs, yet presents it in ways that should make the concepts readily accessible to school children and the general public, as well as to teachers and scientists. The metaphor of a
'city' is used to link often abstract, and sometimes controversial, ecological concepts to familiar, every-day experiences. The book can be read at many levels, from passive enjoyment of the superb illustrations to disturbed thinking about the future of these ecosystems. The prose and syntax are deceptively simple, describing phenomena and processes that can be readily grasped from a single reading of the words. But, upon reflection or re-reading, practically every sentence contains deeper implications and broader applications at multiple levels: the same description of a symbiosis that delights a child with its novelty may also stimulate a researcher to rethink basic assumptions about reef ecology.
Popular books about coral reefs tend to emphasize their physical and biological complexity and diversity within a rather static
'balance of nature,' while decrying all change as destructive, undesirable and (frequently) anthropogenic in
origin. Murphy does neither. He shows that what we observe as a 'reef' is a dynamic system on many scales, in which innumerable interacting and often opposing physical, chemical, and biological processes simultaneously and continually create, destroy, or modify the components. Murphy also introduces major phenomena that may be consequences of human activity and global change (e.g., bleaching, diseases), but does not preach; rather, he indicates major lines of evidence, clearly distinguishes between what is known vs. the unknown or merely suspected, then leaves readers to think about the implications and draw their own conclusions.
The numerous photographs are superb, not only technically, but especially in their appropriateness for illustrating points. While some subjects will be familiar to readers of other reef books, many (particularly those drawn from the invertebrates) will be novel and intriguing examples unknown even to many professionals. Murphy frequently uses close-ups of very small organisms to reveal micro-scales of diversity and beauty that are rarely seen even by active diving naturalists and scientists.
This is a wonderful book that any reader should be able to enjoy at the same time as learning about the world through the eyes of scientists."
—Donald C. Potts, Professor of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Coffee table underwater books come and go.... But
a good book encourages a long and developing relationship, providing
constant entertainment and knowledge. Richard Murphy has created such a
This is a book that inspires and educates. The theme, an
original and imaginative theme I might add, is not gratuitous. Life in
the sea requires organization, discipline, rules and regulations just as
our cities and society demands. We fail miserably in our attempt at an
orderly society and whereas it would be frivolous to suggest that we
look toward the organization of marine life to improve our elite
position on the evolution ladder, we must nevertheless respect the
wonder of nature that creates life and diversity amongst what could
appear to us as chaos under the surface....
Murphy's succinct text is illustrated by
excellent, relevant, photographs, yet this is not a book of
underwater photographs. Although of medium format (26 x 26 cm), it
defies the definition of a 'coffee table book', devoid of
photographs for the sake of art, and encourages reading from cover to
cover. Whereas the photographs are clean and straightforward, the
inspiration comes from a realization that there is a wondrous community
beneath the sea with similar problems to that which we humans
Diver (Review forthcoming)
many people, the most attractive aspect of the marine environment are
the coral reefs and their diversity of colorful animals. This interest
has resulted in the production of many coffee-table books with good
photographs. However, in this beautiful work, marine biologist and
educator Murphy has taken the significant step forward by producing a
book with important educational content. Using the model of a human
city, he introduces the reader to the vast complexity of relationships
found in a reef community. He explains how solar energy powers the reef,
how raw materials are used efficiently, and how waste is recycled. He
discusses why biodiversity is security for the reef denizens, and how
everything that lives in the reef is interconnected. Although written
for a general readership, the work succeeds in providing a good
introduction into reef ecology. It should also help to promote the
conservation of a natural resource that has been severely abused."