By Joseph Tepper
Underwater explorer Neville Coleman does not live in the past.
As a multi-award winning underwater photographer, with an accumulation of accolades almost too long to list, Mr. Coleman has spent the majority of his life exploring and photographing some of the world's richest waters. Beginning in 1967, when he led the Australian Coastal Marine Expedition -the first photographic fauna survey on the continent- and now with the 2010 release of his “Underwater Marine Life Identification eGuide,” he continues to transform the traditional marine identification guide into a tool for the future.
The illustrations and images are well suited for identification, although perhaps not approaching a new level of aesthetic achievement. Most identifications photos are profile shots that give a very good idea of identifying features, as well as further information listed below: features, lifestyle, reproduction, ecological associations and identification tips.
While Neville Coleman's new guide follows the fold of its printed relatives in many ways, it also offers several innovative features unique to the electronic format. The “Quick Search” allows you to search for common names and scientific names within the entire guide, eliminating the need to thumb through thick indexes. Another useful tool is the compare function, which allows the user to place two ID photos next to each other, making the otherwise challenging task of intra-species identification a breeze. The application even features the “My List” function: a tool that allows the user to store memorable dives, localities, and even unique species.
With the “growing pains” of transitioning from traditional to non-traditional media, it is little surprise that such change is now permeating the world of marine identification. Even though this electronic guide may have some small inconveniences to be addressed in future updates, it is really a sign of things to come.
The “Underwater Marine Life Identification Guide” is now available for the iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store for $19.99. The eGuide is due to be released in January for the Android, Blackberry, Symbian (Nokia), Windows Phone, and Windows Mobile.
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