Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Review: Nudi books

Being the nudist (meaning 'seaslug lover' NOT 'exhibitionist'!!) I am, I am a *somewhat abashed* owner of THREE nudibranch books!! (amongst other nature books) And for those of you who know how much they cost and how I tend to build my own personal library of sorts, you probably can "value" my really messy room. ^^ The latest addition being the Nudibranch Encyclopedia by Neville Coleman. Having a spot of free-ish time now (before the April-June) madness busy-ness descends, so shall do a quick and rough comparison between (and a somewhat review of)Coleman's latest and his previous 1001 Nudibranchs book.
The covers look pretty much the same but the first difference is in the thickness and weight. 1001's a mere 144 pages and soft cover, whereas NE's nearly 4 times that at 416 pages and hard cover. A tad bit hefty for a field guide, especially when your dive gear already takes up so much space and weight (not to mention your cameras and other assorted barang-barangs). Plus, most divers are more of generalists than nudists per se, meaning if they wanna bring along their ID books, it would be for quite a few critters... So the new kid book on the block suffers the first blow of being less portable, but how does it do content-wise?

Firstly, the section describing the main features of the different seaslugs now has labeled photographs instead of diagrams to indicate the names of the different anatomical portions of the sluggers. Much less detail as compared to 1001 that even includes the type of cerata. Guess quite a few of the features are difficult to see in the field, and the general audience wouldn't be so concerned with knowing where the seminal groove is or how the abulmen gland is wrapped round the digestive gland.

Not much changes were made to the section on habitats, well, except that in NE, the portion on open ocean opisthobranchs is omitted, and even the part on zoogeography was taken out. And on the other hand, the portion(s) on nudibranch behavior has been expounded upon. More details and insights into the 5 senses of opistobranchs, respiration, locomotion, defence strategies, and the topic we all love to hear about, sex. I like the change in the section on feeding where more photos of slugs in action instead of static shots of their known food. Stuff like what we observed at Hantu recently.
IMG_4063 Gymnodoris rubropapulosa feeding on Chromodoris lineolata
Sections in 1001 that I miss having are stuff like the details on the slug look alikes like flatworms, lamellarins, onchs, allied cowries, etc.; as well as the section on associations from slug hitch-hikers to parasites. Also the not-so-relevant-but-fun/nice-to-know section on photographing nudis is also gone. Well, considering the number of good photos that plague Dr Rudman on the seaslug forum, guess most of the nudists already know the basics.

And now we get to the meat of the books. The slug parade!! The arrangement of the sluggie information is now alphabetically (family then genera then species) in NE instead of in decreasing complexity of the opistobranchs as it was in 1001. Furthermore, NE has around double the number of photos compared 1001!!! No wonder there was so much delay from the initial Christmas 2007 release date. Having the names arranged alphabetically does make things way easier to find, since we have had the alphabet ingrained into us from young. Figuring out and trying to remember the slug complexity hierarchy would easily give anybody a headache, and when you factor in the constant updating of species and all.... Also, in NE, the non-nudi opistobranchs are presented first, which is the opposite of 1001 where it was nudis first, other slugs later...

So aside from the new photos and new species recorded, what else is "new" in NE? Larger photos to oogle at and glomp. More details and descriptions on features of the species, and as far as possible, photos of juveniles and eggs are also included. Definitely moving away from being merely a field ID book to more of a proper reference book. Can't wait for the day when the encyclopedia would have expanded into a multi-volume set with all the down-and-dirty on seaslugs. That would be like putting the entire seaslug forum into print~~~~
patchy n delphy check out nudis Look! Even my plushies are intrigued by it! And nice and set to become nudists themselves!

Intrigued by nudibranchs but not so hot on getting the details on names and all? Here's another good read:

Both the Nudibranch Encyclopedia and the Nudibranch Behaviour books can be ordered from I-NSC. 1001 Nudibranchs is no longer available since it's supposed to be updated with NE. And no, I am not being commissioned for any of these books. They really are good reads!


ria said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this great in-depth review!

Now I'm glad I have both the old and the new guides.

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Frankly speaking, I was a little disappointed with Nudi Encyclopedia. Had thought that since it's an encyclopedia, more info will be provided on the characteristics of every species, if not every genus, or family, so that it'll be easier for us to ID the slugs we see next time...

So now guess now we still have to rely on comparing the photos...