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THE WORLD BENEATH: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures & Coral Reefs by Dr. Richard Smith

We are very excited to announce that Dr. Richard Smith’s book is now available.  Not only is Richard a very frequent traveler to the BHS, he is also a frequent contributor to the website.  Many of you will recognize his name as the author of his ongoing “Bird’s Head-Natural History Notes” series. Most of what we know about pygmy seahorses is thanks to Richard.  His PhD was based on his pioneering research on the biology and conservation of pygmy seahorses; it was the first PhD ever awarded for this subject by the University of Queensland, Australia.  He is also a splendid photographer and writer!

From the press release:

THE WORLD BENEATH: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs (Apollo Publishers/September 10, 2019/$35.00/333 Color Photos) is our underwater guide, taking us into the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. Up close you’ll meet the Cenderawasih fairy wrasse with its florescent yellow streak, the polka-dot longnose filefish, and the multicolored seadragon. There are scarlet colored corals, baby blue sponges, daffodil crinoids; and all sorts of mystifying creatures that change color at the drop of a hat. The whale shark is almost larger than life and Dr. Smith’s pygmyseahorses, on which he is the world’s leading expert, are, when not photographed, almost too tiny to see.

The wonderful creatures in THE WORLD BENEATH are charmers and tricksters, and you’ll delight in their antics. Sadly, many of them are in jeopardy with likely extinction ahead. Dr. Smith aspires to promote an appreciation for the ocean’s inhabitants and raise awareness of marine conservation issues through his enlightening text and images. He writes, “I am drawn to animals that are easily overlooked or ignored, and I use underwater photography to share their beauty—hopefully imparting a greater sense of appreciation to people who haven’t been able to see these animals firsthand.”

This exquisite one of a kind volume gives extraordinary insight, shows the striking colors of the sea creatures, and gives a rare up-close view of their world.


  •   320 pages in full color
  •   333 stunning original photographs
  •   65,000 words of fascinating prose
  •   Printed in the USA on responsibly forested paper

THE WORLD BENEATH is available from Amazon books.

Richard sent us an advance copy of the book (it’s amazing) and shared a few images with us…enjoy; AND get the book!  While being wowed by the images, you will learn a great deal about the coral reef and its importance to the health of the planet.

Excerpt from the book:

Heart of the Coral Triangle: In the remote western part of the island of New Guinea, one of the most continually rewarding areas for new species discovery remained obscured from the rest of the world until the mid-1990s. Dutch explorers named the peninsula Vogelkop, meaning “bird’s head,” due to its shape, and while today its formal name is Doberai, it’s often called the Bird’s Head Peninsula. It consists of three main areas: CenderawasihBay to the east, Raja Ampat to the west, and Triton Bay to the south. This region is the true heart of the Coral Triangle and the epicenter for global marine bio-diversity. Of the Coral Triangle’s 605 hard coral species, 574 of them have been recorded here; some reefs support 280 species per hectare. By comparison, there are around one hundred hard coral species in the entire western Atlantic and Caribbean. Raja Ampat, to the west of the Bird’s Head,  officially has the world’s highest coral diversity with 553 species present. This is incomparable across the world’s oceans and makes the area hugely important in terms of conservation.


Dr. Richard Smith is a marine biologist and conservationist, an award-winning underwater photographer and videographer, a public speaker, and the leader of diving expeditions around theworld; he’s been on more than thirty-five hundred dives since 1996. Dr. Smith has written hundreds of articles, published internationally, with a primary focus on conservation, marine life, and travel. His photographs have also been featured around the world, including on dozens of magazine covers and in exhibitions, and he’s won several awards for them.  To learn more about Richard’s work visit his website, Ocean Realm Images.

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