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What we're reading: October 2016

Explore the lesser-seen depths of the world's oceans with a series of sea life photo portraits that paint a picture of our waters' past, present and future.

Published 1 Oct 2016, 09:00 BST
The secrets of the seas.
The secrets of the seas.

The Secrets of the Seas, A Journey into the Heart of the Oceans by Alex Mustard and Callum Roberts

Our oceans are in a state of constant flux. Despite nearly three-quarters of our planet being covered in water, the changes occurring beneath the surface of our seas and oceans remain largely invisible, lurking in the depths and only becoming apparent in alarming scientific reports.

Underwater photography — from murky shots of marine life to the too-bright scenes of screensavers — can seem to shed little light on the realities of the deep. But advancements in diving and camera equipment over the past few decades has seen photographers get ever closer to the truth. One such pioneer is underwater photography master Alex Mustard, who has been producing guides to reefs and wrecks — and giving serious insight into how to photograph them — for decades. His work can be seen in this arresting set of sea life portraits, each of which could easily stand alone as a character study, from the Mediterranean parrotfish grinning like a toothy gameshow host to the vibrantly coloured nudribranch no bigger than your fingernail.

Each chapter is accompanied by a 1,500-word essay and extended captions written by professor Callum Roberts, a natural history writer, marine scientist and conservationist. This isn't just a two-dimensional aquarium for your coffee table but a study of our oceans and seas, past, present and tentative future.

The Secrets of the Seas, A Journey into the Heart of the Oceans by Alex Mustard and Callum Roberts is published by Bloomsbury (RRP: £25).

What we read this summer...

A Place Called Winter, Patrick Gale
A cracking tale about an English settler in Canada as homesteads and railroads began to carve up the prairies. A perverse title for a summer read; vividly coloured characters and landscape meant I read it in three stints. Tinder Press (RRP: £16.99).
Sarah Barrell // associate editor

Skyfaring, Mark Vanhoenacker
I've just got round to reading last year's best-selling book for plane geeks. It's calm, poetic and riveting, each chapter an essay on the wonder of flight, the modern world and the beauty of travel. Fascinating even if you're not a plane spotter. Chatto & Windus (RRP: £16.99).
Jo Fletcher-Cross // contributing editor

The Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell
A hugely enjoyable autobiographical account of upping sticks… to the sticks. Our witty heroine is transplanted from London to rural Jutland when her hubby takes a job with Lego. She decides to dig into the social factors that keep Denmark atop world happiness indexes. Icon Books Ltd (RRP: £8.99).
Amelia Duggan // contributing editor

Published in the October 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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