Most of us imagine Canada's Pacific coastal waters to be grey, with a few tinges of green. To find bright colours, you need to go to tropical coral reefs, right?
Maybe that's why the shock of royal purples, brilliant oranges, sunny yellows, pristine whites, and bright reds captured in the underwater photography book Beneath Cold Seas is such an eye-popping surprise.
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Yes, my scuba diving friends have told me many times that diving here in British Columbia is incredible, but even they will find this book mind-blowing.
The photos go beyond just capturing specimens of colourful marine species on film. David Hall's images reveal the dynamism of life underwater in fleeting moments: a wolf eel swallowing a prawn, a harbour seal pup scratching its back on a rock, a crab opening a clam.
It's hard to pick favourites in this book, but if I had to choose, mine are those that shatter the perception that the water's surface is a boundary where life and colour ends, such as the photo shown above, "Lion's Mane Jellyfish with Grey Skies".
Hall's photos will fascinate both adults and children. Add a brilliant introduction by Sarika Cullis-Suzuki and you have a book for the ages. Even my librarian friend Janice (who, as you might guess, sees a lot of books) told me this book of photographs is her current favorite.
There is more to this book than simple surprise or beauty. The author, David Hall, says it best, "We humans tend to protect what we know and value, and so wildlife photography can be a powerful tool for promoting awareness and conservation. (I hope this book) will motivate more people to protect the increasingly fragile web of life on our planet."
I believe it will.
From the book Beneath Cold Seas: the Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, © 2011, text and photography by David Hall. Published in 2011 by David Suzuki Foundation and Greystone Books: an imprint of D&M Publishers, and University of Washington Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.