The Secret Life of Fishes

Buttfield, Helen

Published by Harry N. Abrams
ISBN 10: 0810939339 / ISBN 13: 9780810939332
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Synopsis: The exotic underwater world has cast its spell on humans since the beginning of time. This universe of incredible splendor and diversity, and the galaxy of fishes that live there, unfold before our eyes in spectacular watercolor illustrations-as artist and author Helen Buttfield takes us on a voyage to coral reefs around the world, from the Caribbean to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, from the Galapagos to the Hawaiian Islands.

In alphabetical order, from Angelfish to Zebrafish, the book introduces more than 250 fishes, enchants us with their intriguing behavior, and reveals secrets about their mating and feeding habits and interactions with one another. A one-of-a-kind resource as scientifically accurate as it is beautiful, The Secret Life of Fishes will lure readers of all ages to the world of the coral reef.

62 illustrations in full color, 9 1/4 x 8"

HELEN BUTTFIELD, well-known illustrator, photographer, book designer, and stampmaker, has published several volumes of photography and has designed and illustrated many books. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Review: Lying in a globe-encompassing belt between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, on the edges of continents and in the farthest reaches of the ocean alike, coral reefs harbor an astonishing diversity of life forms. The lives of these creatures, writes artist Helen Buttfield in this beautifully illustrated survey, speak to Darwinian principles: to an incessant fight for survival, food, and space. But they also speak to "surprising forms of cooperation," to mutually beneficial patterns of interaction among fish and invertebrates, habits that tinge the Hobbesian view of the reef with a refreshing dose of altruism.

Buttfield's thoughtful bestiary, which will appeal to collectors of tropical fish as much as to naturalists, treats some 250 varieties of reef fishes. Buttfield is particularly good at describing what at first glance might seem curious behaviors--the courting dance, as it were, of the Japanese pygmy angelfish, for instance--and adaptations, such as the subtly effective pixy hawkfish's strategy of luring unsuspecting feeders into its mouth by fanning its dorsal fins to mimic the swaying motion of coral polyps. From anthias to mandarinfish to zooxanthellae (the yellow-brown algae that live within the tissues of those polyps), Buttfield has something interesting to say--and her paintings are nothing short of remarkable. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: The Secret Life of Fishes
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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Buttfield, Helen
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