24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore by Gillian and Darryl Torckler
In 24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore Gillian and Darryl Torckler set off in the pitch dark at low tide. They will continue their journey over a 24-hour cycle and introduce us to many sea creatures.
The first ones they encounter are also the tiniest, myriads of luminescent krill being subjected to a feeding frenzy. These are an important first step in the oceanic food chain. Small fish gulp mouthfuls of them in a moment. Larger fish will eat the smaller fish, and still larger fish eat them.
As the tide rises and the sun comes up pied shags wake and begin to scan the water to detect ripples hovering above schools of fish. Yellow-eyed penguins waddle to the water. Seahorses suck tiny fish from the incoming tide. Later in the morning when the high tide turns bottlenose dolphins jump playfully out of the water on the way to their fishing grounds.
When the tide sweeps in it brings water and food but when it recedes again a few hours later, there are other dangers to be faced. On a hot summer’s day, some unlucky ones like a bluebottle left stranded on the shore will heat up, dry out and die. But oysters, barnacles and limpets fasten themselves tightly onto rocks hopefully sealing in enough water to last them until the tide rises again. When it does Darryl is ready to photograph a female eagle ray who has come into the shallow water to give birth.
The Torcklers’ journey finishes at high tide. In the darkness below the waves, where the fading sunlight cannot reach, more creatures come out to hunt and scavenge. Sea urchins will munch on green seaweed all night long.
Alternating with Gillian’s dramatic account of 24 hours on the kiwi seashore are double spread pages filled with excellent photographs by Darryl. In the accompanying text boxes Gillian describes the habits and habitats of many of these creatures. Smaller fun fact boxes are there too, containing fascinating snippets and curious facts. Who knew for instance that an octopus has eight brains to control each tentacle separately? Or that sea stars can regrow a limb if they lose one.
24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore is a small book, but it is packed full of useful and interesting information. As our rocky shores are very accessible I think it would be a wonderful book for families to read together before making plans to go there. The many photographs would greatly help them to identify any sea animals which they might encounter. And learning about the daily struggle for survival faced by many of these animals would also build empathy and respect for them.
It is good that information on how to prepare for a rocky seashore adventure and how to keep safe are also included.
Reviewer: Lyn Potter
Bateman Books. RRP $19.99