Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Echinoblog Christmas Xmas Gift Book List!!

So, the other day, Ron over at the Tide Chaser, asked me to recommend some field guides for him and the holidays were coming I thought why not just make up a big list that might also make good gift books as well?

My criteria were:
  1. The books included echinoderms in some dedicated way
  2. Books were widely available (usually through
  3. I can in some way vouch for the starfish identifications OR I think the book has some overall value...
  4. Disclaimer: There's a lot of ID guide/field guide books that I either use and/or recommend-but these fit the immediate criteria. The absence of a book is not meant as a slight. It may simply be out of print, hard to come by, etc.
1. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific.
Coverage: The tropical Indo-Pacific from Hawaii to the east coast of Africa to northern Australia.

Authors: Terry Gosliner, Gary Williams, and David Behrens. The authors are all published researchers who are also divers and photographers.

I identified the asteroids and some of the ophiuroids in this book. Content is solid and comes with detailed distribution data and as much info on the biology of each species as possible. Coverage is widespread though and sometimes what you get is a little uneven but overall you are hard pressed to find a more solid treatment.
This book is more then just a picture guide..its also got a number of valuable natural history nuggets, including an account of the predatory eunicid polychaete Eunice aka "The Bobbit Worm"....and if THAT doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will!!

Available at: and runs for about 45.00 (USD) new.

2. Guide to the Sea Stars, Urchins and other Echinoderms of New Caledonia. (en francais: Guide des etoiles de mer, oursins, et autres echinodermes du lagon de Nouvelle-Caledonie)Coverage: This book was part of the ORSTOM "Tropical Faunas" series of books and covers the shallow-water faunas observed in New Caledonia. Although some of the taxa are limited to New Caledonia, many widely distributed Indo-Pacific echinoderm species are included. Has taxonomic keys as well as full color photographs in a nice hardcover, glossy paper format.

Authors: The book is in French and includes chapters by several French echinoderm experts , including Alan Guille, Michel Jangoux, and several others.

Comments: I have used this book to great effect in my work, identifying Indo-Pacific echinoderm species. The pictures are excellent and the taxonomic identifications are good. A real deal for the price (if you can get it!)

Available at: for 40,56 Euros (about 60 US Dollars)

3. Hawai'i's Sea CreaturesCoverage: A field guide to the marine invertebrate fauna in the Hawaiian islands region. Includes species you would find from intertidal wading depth to the lower end of SCUBA. Very comprehensive!

Author: John Hoover is a photographer and naturalist who resides in Hawaii and has studied and photographed the marine fauna there for MANY years. Although not a published echinoderm author, he is very thorough and his books are extremely well-done.

Comments: I identified the asteroids and ophiuroids in this book and I was impressed at the coverage of taxa as well as the great lengths which were taken in order to ensure the taxonomic fidelity of the pictures in the book.
So, I heartily endorse it for those who are interested, not only in the tropical shallow-water Hawaiian invertebrate fauana but also as a general guide to some of the more common Indo-Pacific species.

Available at: for 24.45 (US Dollars) Additional details on the book are available at John Hoover's book website.

An online addendum to this book can be found at Hoover's website for the book. Here.

4. A Field Guide to Sea Stars and other Echinoderms of Galapagos.
Coverage: Includes pictures of most of the asteroids and echinoderms from the shallow-water to lower SCUBA depths of the Galapagos. Many of the species occur more widely throughout the tropical East Pacific, so the guide has widespread use.

Authors: Cleve's Amazon profile sums him up nicely:
Cleve Hickman is Professor Emeritus at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA. He received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia, did research in animal physiology for eight years, and taught zoology for over 30 years. He's made over 20 trips to the Galapagos Islands for research and as an instructor for student field trips
Comments: This little spiral bound book is really a nice balance of pictures and general information for the interested field biologist/diver/photographer, including some relatively rare species. I identified the asteroids and reviewed much of the manuscript and so...its accurate and worthwhile.
Its worth noting that he's written several Field Guides to different invertebrate groups in the Galapagos including
Corals and other cnidarians
Marine Mollusks
Crabs and crustaceans

Available at: for 16.95.

5. Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest.
Coverage: This mighty volume is not so much a field guide, but the pictures are excellent and the format is easy to follow and content appears to be solid. Includes primarily invertebrates, but also fishes, seaweeds and some other stuff.
Includes taxa from the northwestern section of the west coast of North America, which is quite diverse.

Authors: Andy Lamb and Bernard Hanby. Don't know the authors but the IDs and information looks solid.

Comments: A good accompaniment to the new edition of Light's Manual or any of the other classics to the Pacific Northwest literature.

Available at: Amazon for 44.00-on sale from 69.95 (used price down to 35.00)

6. Fossil Crinoids.Coverage: Okay, so this book is not a field guide, but there are few books on fossil echinoderms available to a wide audience out there and I think this is a good one.

It includes chapters from different specialists and surveys crinoid environments acrosss time and looks at different fossil settings from around the world. From Paleozoic to the recent and from the classic midwest limestone deposits to some of the more unusual German crinoid lagerstatte (fossils of unusually excellent preservation).

Authors: Hans Hess, Bill Ausich, Carlton Brett and Michael Simms. All of the authors are published scientists and the book reflects both their knowledge but also their access to some of the most gorgeous of crinoid fossils.

Comments: A well-balanced book for both the scientist and the interested reader. There is science but also a powerful photo image aesthetic in the book that makes it appealing to anyone who loves fossils.

Available at: Hardcover is now out of print (although still available)..but paperback is available at 74.13.


Kevin Zelnio said...

What do you recommend for the east coast, say North Carolina for example?

I'm currently using the Peterson's field guide to the Atlantic Seashore by virtue of their being several copies in the lab.

Ron Yeo said...

Hi Chris, thanks a million for the list!)