Meet the Author
Field Guide to the Marine Life of India

Deepak Apte is a marine ecologist and conservationist by profession. In 2008 he was awarded The Whitley Awards by Shear Foundation for his outstanding work in Marine Protected Areas in lakshadweep, India. Apte has authored many publications and produced various documentaries for awareness about and protection of marine wild life. His latest contribution is this Field Guide to the Marine Life of India.

Unbelievably, Apte had a tremendous fear for water. However his curiosity about underwater life got the better of this fear and at the age of 15 he jumped into the sea. Since then, the study of underwater life and popularizing marine biodiversity conservation has become his life long mission.

Ms Savita Bharti interviewed Shri Deepak Apte on behalf of Education for Change, about the making of this first of its kind field guide on Marine Life of India.

Savita Bharti, EFC: What was the inspiration for making a field guide on marine life especially looking at the little research work available in this area and the difficulties of underwater exploration?

Deepak Apte: The very lack of a good quality field guide on marine life in India was main driver to develop a handy, easy to use field guide. The book “Field Guide to the Marine Life of India” was in making for a decade. When I first got interested in sea life in the early 1970s, I started exploring sea shores with a view to learning new facets of marine life. However, I quickly realized that there was a lack of easily available literature and field guides which can guide amateurs to learn and identify the fascinating creatures in our seas and coasts. As time passed, numerous field guides appeared for different groups of terrestrial biodiversity, but not a single one on marine life. Thus the passion which I nurtured for four decades, of having a handy to use field guide for amateurs started taking shape.

EfC: What were the difficulties you encountered during the compilation of this book?

Deepak Apte: The field guide called for systematic photo documentation, painstaking references, identification, etc. Thus over last one decade, and through over 2000 dives, countless snorkeling sessions and inter-tidal search expeditions across various coasts of India, over 1 lakh underwater images were taken spanning over 10000 species. Of this vast collection of photographs which I had, selected 1200 species were used for the present field guide. I tried to identify most of them, if not all, since taxonomy of lower invertebrates is very complicated and a large part of India fauna is still un-explored.

EfC: Tell us about your sea adventures and the learnings?

Deepak Apte: My sea adventures were fascinating. ‘Respect the space of wild animals’ has always been my mantra or first precautionary principal which I follow even now. This had saved me from any unpleasant encounters.

However, only recently, when you start believing you are the best in the business, nature shows you how little you know. During my last trip to Lakshadweep, a little casual search under the stones could have cost me my life. For the first time ever in my quest to learn about marine life, I was stung by a stone fish, a near fatal one. Fortunately, it was a juvenile and it was not a full blown sting. But for three days, the pain was unbearable. Again a lesson to remember! No matter how much experience you have, never ever let your guard down and learn to respect wilderness.

I captured that small pretty stone fish on my camera and is part of one of the illustration in the book. Forty years of field work of course has numerous interesting experiences. It would be worth writing another book on it.

EfC: Who is your target audience for this fi eld guide?

Deepak Apte: The book has been my dream project primarily made for young and amateurs but will be very handy for researchers as well as graduate and post graduate students, college libraries and personal book shelf. 
The Field Guide to Marine Life of India is 504 page all in colour book illustrating 1200 species commonly found along Indian shores.

For more information contact:

Deepak Apte, E-8, Poorva society Panchpakhadi, Thane – 400602 Maharashtra Email: 

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