Currents of Contrast: Life in southern Africa's two oceans, by Thomas Peschak and Claudio Velásquez Rojas
Currents of Contrast: Life in southern Africa's two oceans, by Thomas Peschak and Claudio Velásquez Rojas, is a magnificent and inspirational addition to the literature on marine life in the region and a worthy successor to the classic and recently out of print Living shores of southern Africa.
Some 200 million years before the dawn of the present day Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia lay fused together, forming the large supercontinent known as Gondwanaland. The southern African coast and oceans were only born during violent episodes of tectonic upheaval 177 to 89 million years ago. In the early Cretaceous period Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica broke free from Africa and drifted to the east, and the newly formed marine basin became the Indian Ocean. Continental drift liberated Africa from South America only during the mid-Cretaceous period, creating between them the body of water that was destined to become the Atlantic Ocean. Today, southern Africa's coast is the meeting place of two ocean giants - the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean and the warm Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean. They clash fiercely at the continent's southern tip, dividing the region into two contrasting marine ecosystems that rank among the richest, most biologically diverse and oceanographically complex on the planet. The Atlantic Ocean, with its awesome productivity and abundance of animal and plant biomass, borders the subcontinent's western flank, while the Indian Ocean that lies on the east has an ecological signature of great biodiversity. For centuries scientists have tried to locate the exact battleground of these two oceans, but it now appears that it is a dynamic and diffuse border centred on the Agulhas bank, a relatively shallow part of the continental shelf that extends about 200 km offshore from Africa's southernmost tip. The southern African coast twists and turns for well over 6 500 km, passing through three countries: Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique.
From the Kunene River mouth in the arid western reaches of the subcontinent, where green turtles, Nile crocodiles and seabirds mingle beside ever-restless dunes, the coast stretches all the way to the mosquito-infested delta of the mighty Zambezi River, where tropical mangrove swamps thrive. Although not strictly part of southern Africa, the coast of northern Mozambique and its extensive fringing coral reefs are nonetheless included here because Mozambique is a country firmly rooted in southern rather than East Africa. From east to west, the seas of southern Africa stretch from the edge of the East African tropics to the cool, temperate waters of the Cape and on to the southern border of tropical west Africa. This steep gradient of latitudinal change has led to the creation of one of the most varied marine environments on Earth. Here, kelp forests, inter-tidal rocky and sandy shores, offshore bird islands, temperate and tropical estuaries, coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, deep-sea canyons and many other marine habitats are found. […]
Content of Currents of Contrast:
GREAT WHITE SHARK - misunderstood predator
KELP - the golden forest
JACKALS, LIONS AND HYENAS -fishing for a living
SEABIRDS - dwellers of the ocean sky
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE - the journey
LIMPETS - a life between the tides
THE REALM OF THE AGULHAS
SARDINE RUN - the greatest shoal on Earth
KNYSNA SEAHORSE - creature of the blue lagoon
THE TEMBE-THONGA - people of the sea and lakes
SEA TURTLES - prehistoric survivors
CORAL REEFS - rainforests of the sea
THE COELACANTH - a fish that time forgot
This is an extract from the book: Currents of Contrast: Life in southern Africa's two oceans, by Thomas Peschak and Claudio Velásquez Rojas.
Book title: Currents of Contrast - Life in southern Africa's two oceans
Authors: Thomas Peschak; Claudio Velásquez Rojas
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
Hardcover, dust jacket, 27x30 cm, 200 pages, throughout colour photos
Peschak, Thomas und Velásquez Rojas, Claudio im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The striking cover of Currents of Contrast invites the reader to open the book, and to be lost in the various forms of life in southern Africa's two oceans.
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