This Is the Caribbean

By Heather Brown

This Is the Caribbean, Text by (Skin Diver Editor) Al Hornsby, Photography by Peter Baker; New Holland Publishers, 24 Nutford Place, London W1H 6DQ, U.K.

Unless you're making a lot more money than we are and have a heck of a lot more vacation time than we do, we're guessing that you haven't been to every island in the Caribbean and a good portion of the bordering nations. We're also guessing that an island-hopping, dive-filled trip through those islands is high on your wish list. Well, after reading this book, you'll feel like you've been there. History, culture, geography, flora, fauna, diving, food-it's all here.

From the Bahamas down and around to the Yucatan peninsula, you'll be taken on a tour filled with more information and more vivid images than your travel agent could promise you. The images are complemented by text and captions that spell out almost every aspect of the various cultures, weaving together a journey that is the Caribbean.

Anything and everything you've ever wanted to know about manatees and dugongs is found in the pages of this book. The elegantly calm photos give the reader a true sense of just how gentle the big sea mammals are. They are shown resting, playing and caring for their young. The text provides an in-depth look at the behavior, anatomy and evolution of both creatures-and even delves into the mythical value to both ancient peoples and sailors of the last few centuries.

It is hard to believe that, as Ripple points out, there are fewer of these creatures every year, mostly due to human expansion into their habitat. Included in the back of the book is information on how to contact organizations that are working to protect these creatures.

Shipwreck by Dave Horner; Sheridan House. For information, call (888) 743-7425 or visit www.sheridanhouse.com.

Unimaginable riches sinking to the bottom of sea. Scattered survivors clinging to broken bits of wood. English fleets and Spanish galleons battling for control of the seas. Watch out Titanic, Dave Horner has put together a book that challenges the excitement and action of any Hollywood blockbuster. Padre Diego Rivadeneira's diary, which Horner found while researching wrecks, tells of being shipwrecked twice, on the La Capitana and the Maravillas.

The Padre's entries speak of riches that sank to the ocean floor and of the political and economic battles being waged for control of the waterways to the New World in the 1600s as well as of his own personal adventures. What makes these tales so real is the companion story of Horner's modern-day exploratory dives on the wrecks of both ships-300 years after the Padre watched them sink.

Additional research provided about the Padre's era makes it easy to envision the events that happened far in the past.