D. P. Sharabati. Kegan Paul International, London, 117 pp., 70 colour plates, numerous text figures, one map. 1988. ISBN 07103 0051 4.
Originally reviewed by Laith A.J. Al Hassan in 1990.
Published in Journal of Conchology (1990), Vol.33
Shells and shell collecting fascinate a large number of scientists and many laymen who find joy in collecting and arranging these attractive seashore objects. There is certainly a great deal of excitement in the anticipation of discovering a shell new to one's collection or even new to science.
Recently a large number of books have been published on identification of sea shells found in various geographical areas of the world. Much attention has been given to the seashells of the Indo-Pacific region, but few books have adequately illustrated and described the shells found in the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabian Seashells solves this problem. The book contains three major sections in addition to the foreword, preface, acknowledgement, glossary and bibliography. The foreword is by Dr. R. Tucker Abbott the leading scientist in conchology of the world. His acceptance to foreword this book is a good indication for the high standard of this publication.
Doreen Sharabati has attempted to introduce the beauty of the marine molluscs to the layman. She indulges in describing the different methods of shell identification, mentioning both scientific and common names. She also explains the way they live.
A geographical description for the area is given in the first section which includes Saudi Arabia, The Red Sea and The Arabian Gulf. This concise geographical description for the area gives a clear picture to the reader about the zoogeographical relationships that may be found between the fauna of the two indented seas of the Indo-Pacific province (Red Sea & The Arabian Gulf).
In the second section the author starts to tell the story of the seashells through their general biology and classification and several other biological topics. This section as a whole contains important information to the people of the area, many of whom have never experienced such a natural history lesson before. The way this section is written expresses the great ability of the author to explain science to the general public. In the third section the author is more careful in dealing with the pure scientific material and the way of presenting it. She starts by explaining the Arabian habitats which include most of the seashore habitats and what species of shells live in each zone. After that she touches on the species of molluscs in the Red Sea and compares them with those found in the Arabian Gulf. At this point, I should express my admiration to the author for her excellent scientific description of the species which is unexpected from a non marine biologist.
The photographs presented in this book are marvellous and I congratulate the photographer for his great talent in photography especially for the full page colour plates. I am sure that such a book will open a new era of seashell collecting in the Arab world and will encourage more people to go to the sea shore to look out for shells and to admire their beauty as the author did.