SCUBA News 253
(ISSN 1476-8011)

SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011)
Issue 253 - July 2021

Welcome to SCUBA News - thank you for subscribing. This month we review Secret Seas - a beautiful book about Oman's unique marine world.

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320 Miles west of Morocco, lies the archipelago of Madeira. Offering excellent diving plus year-round whale watching.

Book Shelf: Secret Seas - Discover Oman's unique underwater world

Secret Seas

Secret Seas
by Paul Flandinette and Michel Claereboudt
July 2021
ISBN: 978-99969-849-0-7
240 pages, £36.85

Secret Seas is a beautiful book which not only has gorgeous pictures but is awash with information on Oman, its seas and underwater life. Even the most experienced divers will learn from this book and all will be enchanted by the superb photography.

Whale shark in Blue Water
Whale shark in blue water

As the authors's explain, the diving in Oman is truly unique. Nowhere else do you have kelp forests and coral gardens co-exisiting in the same spot. The seasonal coldwater upwellings in the south of Oman bring nutrients and ideal conditions for temperate giant seaweeds. By the end of August diving here would resemble diving in the UK or Norway, if it wasn't for the presence of tropical fish and coral communities - many, like the Dhofar parrotfish, only found here. By the end of September though, the sea temperature rises and the algae start to disappear, once more revealing a tropical coral reef.

Clownfish with kelp
Omani clownfish on carpet anenome, amongst the growing seaweed

Oman is home to over 1600 species of fish and almost 200 species of coral. Four out of seven species of turtle nest here. The upwellings have led to many endemic species - which are found nowhere else in the world.

The book opens with a discussion of Oman and its history. It quickly progresses to the diving in the different parts of the country and in its different seas - the Arabian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Whereas the early sections contain much detail, from now on the fabulous photos take centre stage. These are annotated with fascinating bite-size details of behaviour or peculiarities. Each section of the book now focuses on one aspect of the underwater world, such as The Reef, Nudibranchs, Sharks and Rays, Cephalopods, Blue Water, Under the Rainbow and Threats to the Oceans.

Longfin batfish
The teira batfish (Platax teira) is often seen in schools, swimming near the surface above sunken reefs or pinnacles.

The reef section for example features stunning close ups of soft corals. Colours are shown both well lit by the photographer's flash and sometimes also as they would be originally seen in natural light by a diver. Some of the photos are of species not yet described by scientists.

This colonial sea anemone Nemanthus annamensis is a parasite of whip corals (Antipatharian)
This colonial sea anemone is a parasite of whip corals.

Co-author Paul Flandinette has been an underwater photographer for about 20 years and has wanted to produce a professional quality underwater photographic book for as long as he can remember. In 2014 he received an underwater photography commission from Oman's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth (as it was then known). Spread over six months this project gave him a detailed insight into the beauty and biodiversity of Oman's underwater world. Paul says "It didn't take me long to learn there was no photographic book on Oman's underwater world. It's rare to find any project that's never been done before so, always up for a challenge, I began this journey which was to last over 7 years."

He continued "For my co-author Michel and me it's not just about creating a beautiful and informative book. We hope that being part of the effort to promote Oman's underwater world Secret Seas will help increase awareness of the need to conserve and protect this very special marine environment."

Gulf Blenny in Brain Coral
The gulf blenny, Ecsenius pulcher, is not easy to spot when it hides within small holes in the corals. This species is endemic to the region and can reach ten centimetres

This really is a beautiful book. Absolutely essential if you plan to dive in Oman, but also really interesting and informative for any diver, regardless of their location. During a time whilst many of us cannot travel to dive, an inspiring book which helps us better understand the underwater world. This book is good both for experienced divers with a deep knowledge of marine life, and people just at the start of their diving adventure. Highly recommended.

Lemon shark
The lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) can grow up to three metres. They are found in shallow tropical waters and are known to return to specific nursery sites to breed

A hardcover book with 240 pages, the authors include 195 photographs and cover 160 species. Measuring 24 cm by 30 cm, it has been printed on 170gsm matt art paper using sustainably sourced papers. Secret Seas is available from the author - Paul Flandinette. It costs £36.85.


To order Secret Seas contact Paul Flandinette -, +968 9138 2281. The book costs £36.85. Postage is £6.50 to the UK, £16.95 to the rest of Europe and £31.95 to the rest of the world.

For more photos from the book see our news site -

Featured Liveaboard - Oman Brown Dhow

6 cabins for 10 divers: visit uncrowded reefs in traditional boat

Oman liveaboard

With two singe cabins, ideal for people travelling on their own.

Get Deal…

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SCUBA News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. This means we are happy for you to reuse our material for both commercial and non-commercial use as long as you: credit the name of the author, link back to the SCUBA Travel website and say if you have made any changes. Some of the photos though, might be copyright the photographer. If in doubt please get in touch.

Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Kristin Riser, Jianye Sui

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