A fascinating underwater journey along the Norwegian coast is the perfect Christmas present for anyone passionate about the marine environment.

Underwater photographer Erling Svensen is known as the man behind the images in the bible for Norwegian scuba divers: “Marine fish and invertebrates of northern Europe” («Dyrelivet i Havet» in Norwegian). The book has sold 25.000 copies and is now available in its 6th edition. This is an encyclopedia which is perfect for identifying the animals you just encountered or photographed during a dive.


The english cover of Secrets of the sea. The nudibranch Flabellina pellucida

The new book, «Secrets of the sea», has a different approach. Instead of focusing on individual species, it focuses on the various habitats. The intention of the book is to present what healthy underwater habitats look like. With the use of beautiful images and short captions, the book has succeeded with this. Compared with «Dyrelivet i havet», there are more wide angle pictures. They are the key to understanding the landscape and mechanisms in each habitat.


Striking and colourful images with short and informative texts is the recipe for success.

Erling has worked with the book for a long time, but it wasn’t until Bjørn Gulliksen suggested himself as the author, the pieces really started to fall into place. Bjørn Gulliksen is a marine biology professor emeritus (retired) at the University of Tromsø. He has done a lot of research around Svalbard and all over the world. The captions and short texts in the book are informative and well written. The language is easy to understand for people without any biology education.


Schools of Spiny dogfish can be spottet during a few weeks in the summertime on different locations along the west coat of Norway. This picture is taken just outside Bergen.

The book presents the following habitats:

  • The littoral zone (between high and low tide)
  • Fjords – soft bottom below the littoral zone
  • Fjords – hard bottom below the littoral zone
  • The Norwegian open coast – habitats below the littoral zone
  • The pelagial (the free water masses of the ocean)
  • The arctic

Strange pelagic creatures from arctic Svalbard

Erling lives in Egersund on the south-west coast of Norway, and many of the images have been taken in this area. Local diving has not been enough to provide high quality pictures from all the habitats. In addition to several scientific expeditions to arctic Svalbard, Erling has travelled all over Norway in his motorhome to fill the book with inspirational and interesting images.


Beautiful layout.

We really enjoyed the elegant layout of the book. Of the many hundred images, nearly 40 are presented over a double spread. The caption is placed on the previous page for the reader to literally dive into the big picture. The book is 320 pages and available in Norwegian and English text.


The rose fish normally lives between 100 and 1000 meters and is rarely observed by scuba divers. This picture was taken in Trondheimsfjorden and made the photographer scream of joy when he surfaced.

This is a typical coffee table book which you can pick up and browse randomly through for entertainment. There is no need to read it from the beginning to the end. It is however hard to put it down once you start the underwater journey.


Audun Rikardsen has won several prestigious photography competitions lately and has contributed with some breathtaking images from the whale adventure in Northern Norway.

The book shows the beauty of the underwater world, but it also presents a warning. The marine environment is threatened from pollution, overfishing and marine litter. Nina Jensen, leader of WWF in Norway, has written the preface. She wisely points out that in order for us to care about the ocean, we need to know what hides underneath the surface. “Secrets of the sea” does an excellent job with providing us with knowledge and inspiration to care for the marine environment.

“Secrets of the sea” / “Havets Hemmeligheter” has been published by Kom Forlag. It is available in most Norwegian online bookstores.


Scene from the wreck of Ferndale in Gulen.