Best Coral Reef Books

The list of selections provided here of “Best Coral Reef Books” represents our carefully chosen picks for the best available (as new copies) books we could find on the main subject areas covered in our web site on coral reefs, arranged by topic.

Please note that the “Best Coral Reef Books” so included are restricted to those titles primarily written for the average reader – amateur naturalists, recreational divers, and other non-professionals interested in these topics. There are many excellent academic books on these same subjects that are NOT included here simply because they are highly technical works that target the scientific community, specialists in each of the fields covered, and other professionals working on aspects of coral reef science and resource management.

Book Titles

New books on these topics are continually being published, and older works are continually going out of print and becoming difficult to obtain. Therefore, visitors should consider the list provided an ongoing “work in progress”, which it will remain. To see if anything new has been added of particular interest, readers are encouraged to revisit this page from time to time.

If you know of a title that you think should be on our “Best Coral Reef Books” list but is not presently included, or have good reason to believe that a title now included should not be, please use the “contact us” button at bottom of any page to let us know!


The links provided on this page (book titles) take you off this site to a page on either Barnes and or that allows you to read a full description of each of our selections of “Best Coral Reef Books”, along with reader reviews and other information. You may also choose to purchase the book directly from the page.

Best Coral Reef Books: Indo-Pacific Coral Reefs

Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide. This comprehensive identification guide to coral reef fishes and invertebrates from Hawaii to the Red Sea features 1,800 color photographs. It also includes chapter on marine mammals, turtles and birds. The authors, Gerald Allen and Roger Steene are the reigning authorities on the region (and fine photographers).

Hawaiian Reefs: A Natural History Guide. Hawaiian Reefs captures the beauty of Hawaii’s coral reefs, sand flats and underwater rock formations from shore to deep reef areas. A must for snorkelers, divers and anyone visiting the islands. This book is a must for anyone who wants to know more about one of the earth’s most unique marine environments.

Coral Reef Guide Red Sea: The Definitive Guide to Over 1200 Species of Underwater Life. Visited by more than a quarter of a million divers each year, the Red Sea is home to many of the world’s most popular dive sites. With no coral bleaching and little pollution, there is both abundant coral growth and fantastic underwater visibility. This beautifully photographed guide covers all the species of underwater life in the Red Sea region that you are likely to encounter while diving or snorkeling. It includes hundreds of clear color photos taken in natural surroundings and information on each species range, behavior, and habitat.

Best Coral Reef Books: Caribbean Coral Reefs

Pisces Guide to Caribbean Reef Ecology. Here’s a delightful guide for anyone who loves the beauty and wonder of coral reefs and the marine life they support. Packed with color photos throughout, it simply and clearly describes the fascinating interplay – the ecology – of creatures, natural forces, and biological processes that make coral reefs so fascinating to behold. Focusing on coral reefs of the Caribbean, this enlightening and entertaining book goes beyond the who’s and what’s of these marvelous marine environments. It reveals the why’s and how’s of the complex roles, behaviors, and interrelationships of the creatures that inhabit coral reefs.

A Field Guide to Coral Reefs: Caribbean and Florida (Peterson Field Guide Series). With more than 500 species described and more than 400 illustrations, this guide provides quick and easy visual identification of fishes, mollusks, sponges, shrimps, lobsters, crabs, and much more of the fauna found on the coral reefs of the Caribbean and Florida. Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world’s greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation, as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars, and the Peterson Field Guides® are credited with helping to set the stage for the environmental movement.

Best Coral Reef Books: Coral Reef Plants

South Pacific Reef Plants: A Divers’ Guide to the Plant Life of South Pacific Coral Reefs. The purpose of this “Diver’s Guide to the Plant Life of South Pacific Coral Reefs” is to make marine plant identification possible for both the sport diving community and the professional marine scientists. More than 370 stunning underwater photographs showcase the major seaweeds. Over 70 additional images depict ‘ecological phenomena” in photographic sidebars.


Caribbean Reef Plants. Caribbean Reef Plants is an identification guide to approximately 565 marine algae and seagrasses of the Caribbean Region. The 542-page color text is richly illustrated with over 700 underwater photographs and 1,645 line drawings. More than 130 “ecological phenomena” are depicted. The treatment covers the entire Caribbean Region and is indispensable for anyone interested in the study of coral reefs.

Best Coral Reef Books: Coral Reef Animals (Invertebrates)

Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal Life from Africa to Hawaii Exclusive of the Vertebrates. This new field guide will describe approximately l,000 species of invertebrates and tunicates that are found in the Central and Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. The narrative for each species will include a description of the animal and discuss its natural history and distribution. The photographs for this field guide have been contributed by 36 of the world’s best underwater photographers.

Reef Creature Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas. Useful field guide targeting recreational divers, this book includes 660 photographs of crabs, lobsters, shrimps, jellies, sponges, tunicates and more!

NOTE: See also A Field Guide to Coral Reefs: Caribbean and Florida (Peterson Field Guide Series) Listed under “Caribbean Coral Reefs” (above).

Best Coral Reef Books: Coral Reef Fishes

Coral Reef Fishes: Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Expanded and updated to include an additional 44 species, this is a handy guide to those fishes that are likely to be observed by anybody visiting or diving on the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific to a depth of sixty meters.

Reef Fish Hawaii: Waterproof Pocket Guide. Now you can identify the beautiful fish you see while you are snorkeling or diving! This booklet, which identifies over 150 of the most commonly seen fish in Hawaii (and small enough to fit in a pocket or dive bag), includes vibrant full color photos especially formatted for underwater viewing. It includes scientific and Hawaiian names as well as a short description of each fish and is waterproof! Go ahead, take it in the water! Keep it with your dive gear, leave it wet for days and when you’re finished diving or snorkeling, simply rinse the book under the tap and wipe each page dry.

Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. A useful field identification guide of reef fishes inhabiting the waters of Florida, Caribbean and Bahamas, aimed primarily at sport divers. The book is lavishly illustrated with 475 photos.

Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea is a long-overdue revision and expansion of what has become a classic book in marine literature. This lavishly illustrated volume provides exhaustive coverage of more than 1200 species, or more than 90 per cent of the region’s reef fishes. Every species is illustrated.The result is a reference book that will enable even a beginning layman to identify most of the region’s reef fishes. Divers, anglers, underwater naturalists, and professional biologists are equally catered for.

Best Coral Reef Books: Reef Diving Skills

Dive Like a Pro: 101 Ways to Improve Your Scuba Skills and Safety. Considering all there is to learn, and all the skills to be mastered, completing a basic scuba course in any format is an accomplishment of which any certified diver should be proud. However, now matter how good a diver you become, it seems there is always some skill, technique or procedure that can be improved. The information included in the pages of this book can help new divers climb the steep learning curve we all must negotiate at the beginning of our diving careers. Even highly experienced divers may learn or relearn a tidbit of information they never knew or happened to forget.

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