Coral Fish

Coral Fish cover

Linda Pitkin

In Coral Fish, Linda Pitkin, a respected biologist and celebrated underwater photographer, gives a unique insight into the diversity of these fascinating fish, including over 100 of her award-winning colour photographs.

978 0 565 09152 1
March 2001
235 x 210 mm
112 pp
Natural History Musuem


Coral reefs throughout the tropics support an amazing diversity of fish – from eye-catching butterflyfish, which hover around the corals, to secretive gobies, and venomous scorpionfish laying camouflaged on the seabed. 

The appeal of coral fish lies not only in the exquisite beauty that some are renowned for, but in their fascinating lifestyles and behaviour. Whether brightly coloured or plain, their natural history never ceases to enthrall.

With over 100 of her award-winning colour photographs, Linda Pitkin, a respected biologist and celebrated underwater photographer, gives a unique insight into the diversity of these fascinating fish. Coral Fish explores the varied lifestyles of these fish - the means by which they find food and shelter on the reef, and their complex interactions. The author describes the partnerships of anemonefish and sea anemones, grazing activities of parrotfish and surgeonfish, and the lifestyles of many other fish that live on coral reefs, huge predatory groupers and even sharks among them.

This title is now out of print.

See inside

Look inside this book to get an idea of its content. 

Pages from Coral Fish

Coral fish communities are extremely diverse.

Pages form Coral Fish

Butterflyfishes and angelfishes are both found on coral reefs throughout the tropics. 

Pages from Coral Fish

Anemonefishes are surprisingly bold for their size, some more than others. 

Pages from Coral Fish

The best way to conserve energy is to lie still, and many bottom-dwelling fishes have perfected this to a fine art.

Pages from Coral Fish

Many of the larger fishes on or around coral reefs are hunters. 


Linda Pitkin is a former biologist at the Natural History Museum, London, with two main fields of interest. Her professional specialization is the research of moths, while her greatest passion is marine life. 

Her underwater photographs have won many national and international awards and she is the author of The Living Sea - a Photographic Exploration of Life in the Sea (1995) and Under Northern Seas (1997). In 2003 she became a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame – a society dedicated to women who shape the world of diving.


Find out what others think of this book.

"Here's an interesting book for coral aficionados who think they know everything about tropical reefs...Pitkin shows there is even more to these kaleidoscopic environments than meets the accurate and engaging introduction to the types of fish we encounter on the reef. Lavishly illustrated by the author's own photographs, the book treats us to a gaudy procession of grazers, puffers, triggers, crushers, crunchers and mimics... Although it's aimed at a broad audience, Pitkin cannot help but speak directly to the diver. This is the sort of book that students should be made to read before being let loose on a coral reef. And at less than a tenner, it's a bargain. "


"... For a book of 112 pages and over 100 photographs this is great value, and makes the book accessible to a far wider audience. Fair play to The Natural History Museum! Coral Fish covers an enormous range of marine life, from enormous manta rays soaring in the blue to the tiny shortstripe goby on a vivid pink coral. I was particularly impressed with the 'fish in disguise' that could so easily be overlooked by a more casual diver. Examples are the harlequin ghost pipefish that merges seamlessly into the weed, and the stunning silver razorfish that hang in the water like fronds of a plant. Linda specialises in research on moths, but it is unlikely that the moths will have a chance to get anywhere near this publication - it's likely to be picked up, carried about and borrowed on a regular basis. "

Dive Girl

"Linda Pitkin is an award-winning underwater photographer, but she's also a biologist with a real interest in marine life. Her latest book takes a comprehensive look at the varied lifestyles of the huge and colourful diversity of fish that inhabit coral reefs, and their complex interactions with one another. ...Illustrated by more than 100 of Linda Pitkin's own colour photographs of great beauty, Coral Fish represents real value for money. "


"Coral Fish is a fascinating study of the myriad of fish inhabiting the coral reefs, as well as an insight to their interactions. Illustrated with award-winning photography from the author's own collection, the book provides a thorough yet concise depiction of the habitat and principal characteristics of the major coral-fish families."


"...a testimony to Linda's hard work and dedication over the two years of painstaking research at the NHM's 'excellent library'. The 23,000 words and 100 + images were not intended as 'a specie identification guide', Linda explained. 'I wanted to illustrate the points being made in the text.' And she has. The book is packed with vibrant, punchy images with equally illustrative script from all over the world, describing the environment, food and shelter issues and specie interaction... It's an eye-catching book, the cover designed by the NHM graphics team, offers a colourful sample of the vividness within. 'It was a lot of work,' Linda confessed. 'So much writing', but I'm happy with the layout..., a rewarding end product!' '...accessible, authoritative and explorative...,' the catalogue series submitted. 'Visually delightful', is all I would add! "

In Focus

"...With over 100 of her own stunning colour photographs, the author explores the varied lifestyles of coral fish, their adaptations to the reef environment and their interaction with other species in this densely populated living space. This is an informative and accessible introduction to the importance of coral reefs in our lives. Throughout the book the author's enthusiasm shines through, as does her fascination with the exquisite beauty for which some of these fish are renowned. Highly recommended for the school or college library."

School Science Review

"Striking images are the order of the day in this vivid collection of tropical marine fish...Taking images of fish is not easy at the best of times, but Coral Fish manages to do full justice to what are without doubt some of the most colourful inhabitants on Earth...the book is very informative and as would be expected of someone with a biological leaning, Coral Fish serves to educate the audience on the complexities of marine fish, whilst at the same time serving as a perfect ambassador to the sport of underwater photography."

Scuba World

"... eminent biologist and award-winning underwater photographer Linda Pitkin, who specialises in entomology at the Natural History Museum, provides an accessible, comprehensive and informative insight into the fascinating and varied lifestyles of the fish that inhabit the coral reef, how they find food and shelter, and their complex interactions. The informative text is brought to life with more than 100 of Linda's photographs, and discusses the importance and complexity of the coral reef as an environment and resource, as well as offering current causes for the depletion of corals, highlighting the mortality of such a valuable resource, the implications of its loss, and its immeasurable worth. An informative book for all underwater enthusiasts. "

Sport Diver Book Club

"... Coral Fish provides an accessible, comprehensive and explorative look at the fascinating and varied lifestyle of the fish inhabiting the coral reef, how they find food and shelter and their complex interactions... Written by a passionate marine photographer, the text is brought to life with over 100 of Linda Pitkin's dramatic colour photographs, depicting an amazing diversity of fish. Pitkin's underwater photographs have won many national and international awards and have featured in a wide range of publications including her two previous books, exhibitions and an IMAX multi-screen presentation. ...Coral Fish is aimed at the enquiring adult but is also accessible to younger enthusiasts due to its open and colourfully illustrated format...a fast-moving and thorough text everyone will find stimulating and thought provoking. "

Tropical Fish

"...Not only does this book have stunning photographs of a wide range of different fishes, and from a variety of coral reef communities, but, more importantly, it has well-researched descriptions of fish physiology and behaviour. The language used is very approachable, while not stinting on scientific details or Latin names. This is a book for the general naturalist and enthusiast; it would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present for children of school age and above. If any book could persuade you to grab your snorkel or learn to dive, this is it!"

James Crabbe - Biologist

Buy animal books online

Bats - Natural History Museum book

Visit the online shop to find all our animal titles. Explore the animal kingdom with our books on bats, big cats, birds and much more.

You can also buy other books, DVDs and lots of gifts inspired by the natural world.

Go shopping

Share this