General Books on the Ocean Environment

Selection for the British reader

          A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment
          Edited by Geoffrey Waller

          Principal Contributors:
          Marc Dando and Michael Burchett
          Pica  1996  RRP: £30.00
          ISBN  1-873403-26-7

If  I was asked to recommend one book for the reader to be informed about the oceans of this planet and creatures that live in it, this is the book I would pick. It is absolutely packed full of facts with both colour and excellent black and white illustrations and diagrams. It is a comprehensive introduction and features the life below and above (sea birds) the waves. This well written reference book is extremely good value.

Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 97

(Now superseded by the even better 1999 update with illustrations)

The reader may be surprised to find a review of this reputable general encyclopaedia in a magazine on marine life. However, if you or your School Library can afford it, this is the best source of accurate information on oceans and marine life, and much more, including information of palaeontology and prehistoric reptiles. The text is the same as the book volumes.

Britannica is viewed using Netscape Navigator 2.00 and the search methods and the ability to print out the text makes it an improvement than the books for finding out the information. The appearance on the screen is dramatically better than the cheap CD-ROM encyclopaedias. This is the future. There are major drawbacks, at present. The full gamut of black and white illustrations are not included and there are no colour photographs, sound or video sequences. Both English and American spellings are  included and either can be chosen.

It might be best to wait for the planned upgrades. Meanwhile, Microsoft Encarta 97 also provides some good information on the oceans and marine life and the sequence and explanation on Tides is  worth looking at and listening to. The Britannica search methods are brilliant and can use the Boolean system. Encarta 97 is just not in the same league.

On some modern computers it is necessary to use Netscape Navigator 3.0 which can be downloaded  from the web site. If your copy of Britannica comes with Netscape 2 and does not work properly, buy  the December 1997 issue of INTERNET.WORKS if you want to download the later Netscape Communicator (the CD-ROM links to the site where Netscape 3 can be downloaded)  (see below).


This useful book is commonly seen in second-hand bookshops and is good value at about £5.00.
No ISBN is available.


The Times  ATLAS & ENCYLOPAEDIA OF THE SEA  is a recommended supplementary book. No ISBN available.

Microsoft OCEANS

Microsoft Corporation 1995
 CD Set 473-052-009
 Price £29.99. (available much cheaper at bargain stores and computer fairs, perhaps as low as £5)

This CD-ROM introduces the browser to the mysterious world of the oceans. For anyone with a 486 Multimedia IBM
compatible computer with at least 8 MB RAM*, a SVGA Monitor, and an interest in the oceans this product is worth having a
look at if you get the chance. Whether it is worth buying depends what you want. For hard information rather than popular
interest stuff, the books reviewed in this issue are my preference.


The opening illustrated menu divides the subject matter into Marine Life, People and the Sea, Guides and World of Water. The
contents include over 700 articles, 1,000 photos and 1,000 audio clips, plus over 100 video sequences. This is entertainment
rather than an academic text.
 Therefore, it will make an ideal Christmas present. The target audience is certainly a younger age group, which are familiar with
computers, and for teenagers this is a valuable educational product. Serious students should have a look at the quizzes before
they buy. If they can answer every question correctly, they might get frustrated.
 Although the UK version has British spellings, the examples of crabs etc. are mostly foreign. Microsoft Encarta is sometimes
better for information on marine invertebrates, as well as the explanation about the tides.

* Technical specifications are lower, but it would not work on the trial 486 computer with 4 Mb RAM. It will run under
Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. A Sound Card is necessary for the audio scenes.

General Seashore Guides (includes Identification Guides)
Books for Advanced Students
Guides (British Fish)
Top Books 1997
Best Books 1998
Notes for Teachers
More Books



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