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August 2005 Vol. 20, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Excellent New Interactive Caribbean Fish Guide

from the August, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fish ID books are great, but now that divers and photographers are bringing laptops on dive trips, let us suggest this digital fish ID source, Fishes of the Caribbean and Adjacent Waters. It's a superb addition for any digital diver's computer library.

This interactive field guide comes in CD-ROM or DVD format and includes descriptions of 665 species accompanied by 2,500 color photos and 1,000 video clips of most common species in their native habitats. Ichthyologist Dr. John Randall, himself an author of fish ID books, calls it "comprehensive, informative, meticulous in its detail, and fun to use."

The Premium DVD edition includes software for PCs, and can be used in any DVD player or DVD-ROM disc drive running on Windows. The package includes minimal instructions, so I needed a little help from the publisher (ReefNet, of Ontario, Canada), to install it (1.4 gigabytes).

I printed out the PDF operating manual to help navigate the complex software with features such as a species browser and detailed species descriptions accompanied by photographs, sketches, and audio pronunciations of scientific names. Video content was beautifully shot, with sound effects and background music. The most helpful feature was a search engine that allowed me to look up, say, a splendid toadfish by selecting among preset descriptions of markings, anatomical features (e.g., barbels) and behavior. The descriptive terminology was defined in a glossary just one tab-click away. Indeed, the disk makes identification and fact finding a breeze.

Excellent New Interactive Caribbean Fish Guide

Other interactive tools include a flash-card fish quiz customizable for the user's skill level, a log for recording sightings, an illustrated glossary of scientific terms, an interactive map of the Caribbean and a multimedia show designer for custom presentations.

The premium DVD lists for $75, but you can order it through Undercurrent at a discount by going to Undercurrent. If your PC doesn't have a DVD drive, you can opt for a CD-ROM version containing the software system, photos, video clips, detailed descriptions and many interactive features ($70). You can also order directly from ReefNet at 1-888-819 REEF.

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