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Best wildlife guide book

Aberdeen, United...
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Best wildlife guide book

I finally made all my arrangement for our Galapagos Islands trip on November (thanks everyone on the forum who helped) and am now into final planning stages. One thing I'd really like to take is a Wildlife Guide Book. I have seen comments about books by Fitter and Fitter. (maybe Traveller's Guide - Wildlife of the Galapagos OR Safari Guides - Wildlife of the Galapagos (Collins Safari Guides) which I saw on Amazon)?

Could anyone recommend a book for us? Ideally somethign with a bit of history on the islands and their evolution and then nice pictures of the wildlife etc.

Thanks.

Oceanside...
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1. Re: Best wildlife guide book

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am a birder and involved in wildlife rehab in the US, so wildlife guides have been in my life big time for years. I checked out as many wildlife-related books from the public library as I could before deciding on which to buy. What I like about wildlife books is lots of pictures, a bit of text, and maps or descriptions of where the critter is likely to be found--all on 2 opposite-facing pages, if possible. Bonus points for a small-enough size to fit in a pocket or easily slip in and out of a daypack.

I settled quickly on Fitter, Fitter, & Hosking (2000), published by Princeton Pocket Guides. There is a new edition (2007) that has the same size and exactly the same # of pages--but costs almost double (at least at Amazon). You can see the new version on Amazon here: amazon.com/Wildlife-Galapagos-Travellers-Dan… If you click on "paperback" under the "formats" box, you get to the older version. (I'm not pushing Amazon--just an easy way to see both versions.) I haven't looked at the 2007 edition, so I can't speak about it. But the 2000 edition is terrific and was all I needed. I've used it extensively since I came back too--it's now dog-eared and covered with invaluable notes. Perhaps someone on the forum has looked at the 2007 edition, but it's hard to believe it could be worth twice as much when it has exactly the same # of pages.

These books are both compact in size. slipping easily into most of my shorts pockets or the daypack. But the reality is you don't need a field guide at all when you're on the landings. Except for the various "Darwin" finches, the IDs are pretty easy. The mammals are distinctive; there are only 60 or so species of birds--13 of which are those pesky finches. And your naturalist guide will have identified and pointed out the identifying characteristics long before you could look them up in your book. I found that I used my field guide mostly before we traveled; in the evenings during the cruise when I was going over my notes; and back at home, writing up our trip report. So portability and size may not need to play as much a factor as I originally had thought it would.

The only caveat I offer about this book is that it has nothing about fish. That didn't matter at all to me. But if fish are important, this might not be the book for you. Our boat had several terrific field guides in its library that were dedicated to fish, which our group used extensively. Of course, it didn't hurt that we had a retired marine biologist in our group. ;-)

Well, THAT's probably more opinion than you wanted or needed! Having written all that, a field guide can be a very personal choice. And all of this is just one person's opinion, of course. Some people like lots of text; others, as little as possible. Some photo arrangements can make you crazy; others fit right into your reading/learning style. I suggest you get several from your public library, if you have access to one, and read them through to see which fits your style. I couldn't find any in our local book stores, so that may not be a useful option.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Ottawa, Canada
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for Galapagos Islands
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2. Re: Best wildlife guide book

That's a good point about marine life ZT,

some of the greatest "wow" moments in Galapagos happen under water. Though these are usually associated with easily identifiable species (sea lion, penguins, sharks, rays, turtles), the mix of colourful tropical fish with a species normally associated with ice - penguins (really!) - is unique to Galapagos. There are plenty of fish to see, sea stars, anemones etc... even sea horses if you are lucky, and take the time to look for them. One should take the time while snorkeling to also focus on the micro life attached to rocky outcroppings. The last time I was there, I also noticed for the first time the millions of tiny, nearly invisible organisms actually floating around in the water. I had to stop myself, and focus about 1 foot in front of my mask, and I could see the little critters of different shapes and sizes darting about. I know that on some ships, they have microscopes on board and give people the chance to see these animals close up.

Having said all this, I would recommend "Reef Fish Identification: Galapagos by Ned DeLoach and Paul Humann" for the underwater life.

I know Daniel Fitter (and his wife Tina) very well from our Galapagos days. Though they left Galapagos a couple of years ago (to settle in Cuenca, on the continent), they still have a main street shop selling Daniel's beautiful photography. Daniel is also the grandson of on of the original German Angermeyer brothers, who sailed to Galapagos just before the 2nd WW to escape the gathering storm in Europe. Quite a story!

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Aberdeen, United...
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3. Re: Best wildlife guide book

Wow what amazing detail in both responses! :) Perhaps I need to look at a land book and an underwater book then - since we are both diving and land cruising. :)

Thanks for the advice I'll check out the books you both mentioned.

The more I hear about Ecuador the more I wish we had more time on the main land to explore. We have only 3 days in / around Quito and I already now it isn't going to be enough!

Oceanside...
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4. Re: Best wildlife guide book

I bet you will be happier with 2 books. Most of the other generalist wildlife books I looked at had very little on the marine life (although many had a bit more than Fitter et al.). Since you're divers, I imagine you'll really enjoy having more info about fish and the other aspects of the underwater world.

Have a great time!

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Perth, Australia
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5. Re: Best wildlife guide book

Hi Tina

Just want to thank you for recommending the book. I've got it yesterday and it is a wonderful book (ordered 2007edition just in case for any update). The book is compact but packed with so many information with many pretty and clear pictures. Surprised and delighted to see pages after pages of plants photos! This will be my bed-side book for the next 4 months until we actually go. Fish book hasn't been arrived yet. Hope to receive soon. Thank you!

6. Re: Best wildlife guide book

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