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Nudibranch Behavior by David Behrens
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Nudibranch Behavior

by David Behrens

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Many divers, especially those with underwater cameras, love nudibranch for their myriads of striking colours, which look quite beautiful on photos. Plus they are slow, so relatively easy to photograph. Many of these divers went on to become one of those dive nerds who can rattle off the Latin names of the strange creatures on top of their heads and debate for hours about the difference between one and the other. For both these groups – the casual nudi lovers and the passionate and nerdy ones – this book is a must.

Like a textbook this book explains the biology and the behaviour of nudibranch and their cousins. Behren explains the misconception and mistakes both laymen and biologists often make – using the term nudibranch to include everything that looks like it; when in fact the correct term is Sea Slug or Ophistobranchia. Nudibranch is only a branch of Sea Slugs, that subclass of Molluscs. Sea hares for example, while part of sea slugs, is actually separated from nudibranch and has a branch of its own, hence shouldn’t be called nudibranch.

Those who are not too inclined on scientific details such as this shouldn’t be worried. Behren’s book while has textbook quality information is designed for laymen. It is small (176 pages) and written in a language easy to understand. This paperback is printed on high quality paper and is jam packed with hundreds of startling quality pictures, taken by photographers Constantinos Petrios and Carine Schrurs. Each picture appears to be carefully selected to help explain the text.

The book is divided into several sections explaining the classification of Sea Slugs, their senses and respiration, their movements and locomotion, feeding, reproduction, defenses, their colour, camouflage and mimicry, and their symbiotic relationships. Learning about all these quirks of sea slugs helps to make these interesting creatures that more interesting. And for those nerds the book offers a deeper insight into their biology and behaviour, which helps in identifying them.

The only thing that bothered me a little bit when reading it is the point of view which Behrens seems to take regarding the relationship between these amazing creatures and human beings. In the last section, Sea Slugs and Mankind, Behrens, I guess like most of people, seems to think of other creatures in nature as there to be useful to human; which is a very unkind humanocentric view. If we learn about evolution we should realise that the evolutionary process is a natural process which is in no way directed or leads to the formation of human as the culmination of all creatures, the most advanced. Zoologists and biologists should be at the forefront in dispelling this myth.

But maybe I am being nitpicky or too much a student of Richard Dawkins. So despite the complain, the verdict would still be: an excellent book, worth the price and a must buy.
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  koeniel | Jun 22, 2007 |
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