WASHINGTON (April 16, 2012)—As summer approaches, many vacationers will be heading to favorite beach, lake or river destinations. A perfect companion to any water adventure is a new book from National Geographic, FIELD GUIDE TO THE WATER’S EDGE (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0868-3; $21.95 trade paper; on sale May 1, 2012), designed for those who enjoy the many natural wonders along North America’s ocean beaches, lakeshores, riverbanks, streams, ponds and marshes. The book is written by two veteran scientists and water edge experts, Stephen Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach, and Jack Williams, longtime weather editor of USA Today.
This book is divided into three parts:
1) An introduction to the fascinating worlds to explore at the water’s edge. From how tides can change landscapes to how to read waves, this guide helps readers understand and appreciate each water system, from oceans to estuaries. Diagrams and photographs show the science behind ocean waves, river currents, marshy ecosystems and more.
2) A field guide to the animals, plants and other curiosities to be found at the water’s edge. Featured are the most common and most fascinating creatures of both saltwater and freshwater landscapes, from sharks and dolphins of the ocean to toads and salamanders of the swamps and springs. Contents are organized by biological grouping and include invertebrates; insects; fish; reptiles and amphibians; birds; mammals; and plants. A chapter on beachcombing focuses on shells, corals, sponges and oddities such as egg cases and sea beans. Each plant and animal description features a photograph for easy identification and a description of their appearance. Behavior, food and range are provided for the animals, while habitat, reproduction and range are given for the plants species. Sensory clues that help find or identify species appear in “Look for” and “Listen for” boxes. Cir¬cumstances that may be dangerous —such as plants that cause rashes or animals that sting —warrant “Safety Tip” boxes. Extra tidbits of information are set in “Did you know?” boxes.
Each chapter also contains two “On Location” features highlighting places selected by the authors for their special landscapes, flora and fauna.
3) A list of 35 of the best North American water’s edge destinations, recommended by Dr. Beach. They include All-Time Top 20 Beaches (culled from his famous annual Top 10 Beaches list now going into its 22nd year), Top 10 River Sites and Top 5 Great Lakes Beaches. Twelve of the top 20 recommended beaches are in Hawaii, six are in Florida and the remaining two are Coopers Beach, Long Island, N.Y., and North Carolina’s Ocracoke lifeguarded beach.
Top 10 river sites include Potomac River at Great Falls, Va.; Arkansas River at Salida, Colo.; Mississippi River at Hannibal, Mo., Russian River at Cooper Landing, Alaska; and St. Lawrence River at Kingston, Ontario. Among the top five Great Lakes beaches are Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan in Michigan, and Presque Isle State Park, Lake Erie, Pennsylvania.
The field guide ends with a special section for beach lovers, including what makes a beach great, Dr. Beach’s rating criteria and a chart with which readers can rate beaches.
About the Authors
Stephen Leatherman “Dr. Beach,”a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami, has written or edited 15 books. Widely recognized as an expert on how coastal storms affect beaches, he is probably better known for his annual announcement of America’s Top 10 Beaches, made every Memorial Day.
Jack Williams, founding weather editor of USA Today’s newspaper and website, has written six books, including “The Weather Book,” published by USA Today, and “The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather,” published by the American Meteoro¬logical Society and the University of Chi¬cago Press. He is an active member of the Explorers Club in Washington, D.C.