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The story behind the new book CATALINA ISLAND DIVE BUDDIES

(DiverWire) When Mike Rivkin, award winning publisher and former president and historian for the venerable “Tuna Club” located in Avalon on Catalina Island invited Jon Council to a breakfast meeting in the late summer of 2012 to discuss an idea he’d been pondering, it was hard to imagine where that meeting would lead. Rivkin had already published a handful of books pertaining to the history of the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) and the 50 greatest world record catches.

764Catalina Island resident Jon Council, who conducted his first dive in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in 1974, has since plunged into nearly every sea on the planet as a scientific researcher for NOAA, the U.S. EPA, National Geographic Society, Institute for Nautical Archaeology, NASA and a host of educational entities, he was Rivkin’s choice to assist in the development of a brand new approach to fish species field guides.

That first meeting revolved around the should, could, what if, and “how about this” aspects of creating something different in the wildlife field guide marketplace. The goal was to supply information in a new, more relaxed and entertaining fashion to anyone interested in learning something about the typical or common local Southern California fish species. It was easily understood that scuba divers, snorkelers and fishermen would be the most obvious beneficiaries from a book created in that fashion.

Up until now, the choices for quick reference wildlife materials consisted of either tiny non-detailed illustrations with little more than a common name near them, or the opposite end of the spectrum, “scientific jargon overkill” with marginal quality photographs or simple line drawings offered as species examples.

It appeared that the door was left wide open for a vast audience who would like to see highly detailed, quality illustrations (which matched what they were seeing in the field) yet also be able to learn a bit about each animal without necessarily qualifying for a PhD in marine biology after reading a single textbook.

The challenge then shifted to locating the right naturalist illustrator who could transfer Council’s eye for scientific detail onto the end of a paintbrush and then onto the pages of Catalina Island Dive Buddies.

The search resulted in master wildlife illustrator Nick Mayer from Vermont. Mayer, an east coast resident was largely unfamiliar with most west coast fish species, but was willing to take on the task provided Council could work as the visual quality control, and so a collaborative partnership was born. The results are the finest full color anatomically correct illustrations ever created for 30+ local southern California fish species contained within the pages of the book. Add to them Rivkin’s edgy writing style and Catalina Island Dive Buddies is something that is equally at home in your dive bag, backpack or living room coffee table.

One key and unique feature of the book is that all of the illustrations are repeated in the back pages in a reduced size format as part of a “sighting-log” section. Each book owner will have the ability to personalize their own copy with notes and comments regarding behaviors, location and depth information for each species sighting. Council says; “The log section creates a true interactive element to the book, and makes it fun for the reader, and isn’t that what it’s all about with recreational diving and learning,..having fun?”

Catalina Island Dive Buddies is available through several Catalina retailers and also through Amazon.

For additional Information, please contact

sealab1@catalinas.net