This volume’s slimness is deceiving: the 64 pages of Weird Sea Creatures are rich in content and appeal. Erich Hoyt is a conservationist and cetacean researcher who has authored both adult and children’s books on cetaceans, whale watching, social insects, and deep-sea life; his extensive knowledge and interest in the life of the oceans is evident throughout the book. Intended for readers 10 and up, Weird Sea Creatures begins with a written introduction to the deep sea, followed by photographs of 50 deep-sea organisms, including blackdevil angler fish, piglet squid, deep-sea opossum shrimp, dragonish, sea urchins, brittle stars, and many more.

Hoyt’s knowledge of and affection for his subject matter is evident throughout, starting with the author’s note in which he states that “I have come to know and sympathize with, even to love, all of the creatures in this book. Apologies are due for calling them ‘weird.’” The well-written introduction is a clear and concise description of deep-sea habitats and animal adaptations, followed by a description of how the photographs in the book were created: a challenge involving collecting the organism using nets or ROVs and photographing them against black backgrounds in chilled seawater aquaria below decks on the research vessel. The introduction is deceptively short. Only four pages, it provides brief but excellent descriptions of deep-sea conditions, currents, and animal adaptations such as echolocation, photophores, chromatophores, deep-sea predators, and the use of light in deep-sea animal communication. The photograph of each of the 50 animals that follow is accompanied by a paragraph of discussion. Adaptations to deep-sea existence are emphasized and explained, such as the huge eyes of the hatchet fish (that use any light available), “Dumbo” the octopod’s reddish coloring (which makes it invisible in the deep sea), and the bioluminescent escape mechanism of the mesopelagic copepods, among many others. The photographers – David Shale, Solvin Zankl, and Jeff Rotman – should be commended, as each image is exquisite, demanding that the reader slow to examine and savor the amazing adaptive details of each organism.

Overall, Owls of the World is a very fine introduction to the wonders of deep-sea adaptations. Younger readers will find it a very useful overall reference or a wonderful nonfiction exploration of the dark world far below the waves. Even older readers will enjoy this slim text for the beauty of the photographs and the biological wonders of the animals presented.