Currents of Contrast

by Thomas P. Peschak

Over the past two years, you may have seen and read about Thomas P. Peschak through these gallery pages on many occasions... On Wednesday the 13th of April 2005, the day has finally arrived for our friend and extremely talented writer and photographer to officially launch his book 'Currents of Contrast'.

Dr Deon Nel and Ms Aaniyah Omardien of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Ms Pippa Parker of Struik Publishers organised a great venue for this special book launch in the Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town. And the presentations took place in the best possible place, with the Predator Tank as background...

I would like to congratulate Tom on this amazing achievement for I am well aware of the immense amount of time, passion and personal investment this book demanded.

And I really would like to highly recommend Currents of Contrast to anyone interested in the marine universe... Through the pages of this book, you will discover the amazing and diverse marine ecosystems of Southern Africa (and one chapter is dedicated to the Great White Shark!)...

Please visit the official web site:

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This wonderful book encompasses the life and wildlife of the entire Southern African marine ecosystems, and is divided into two main sections: The Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean and the Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean. These two currents clash at the continent's southern tip, dividing the region into two contrasting marine ecosystems that rank among the richest, most biologically diverse and oceanographically complex on the planet.

This 270 by 300 mm and 200 page book includes a very informative and complete text, as well as over 300 beautiful photographs covering the following chapters:

A. The Realm of the Benguela: 1. Great White Shark - Misunderstood predators; 2. Kelp - The golden forest; 3. Jackals, lions and hyenas; 4. Seabirds - Dwellers of the ocean sky; 5. Southern Right Whale - The journey; 6. Limpets - A life between tides;

B. The Realm of the Agulhas: 7. Sardine Run - The greatest shoal on earth; 8. Knysna Seahorse - Creature of the blue lagoon; 9. The Tembe-Thonga - People of the sea and lakes; 10. Sea Turtles - Prehistoric survivors; 11. Coral Reefs - Rainforests of the sea; 12. The Coelacanth - A fish that time forgot.


Southern Africa’s coast is the meeting place of two ocean giants – the Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean and the Agulhas of the Indian Ocean. They clash fiercely t the continent’s southern tip, dividing the region into two contrasting marine ecosystems that rank among the richest, most biologically diverse and oceanographically complex on the planet. The waters of the west coast are fed by the Benguela, a cold current that accounts for the enormous volume of marine life found here, while those of the east coast – warmed by the Agulhas current – are noted for their huge variety of life forms. Currents of Contrast – Life in Southern Africa’s Two Oceans first introduces the realm of the Benguela, where you will encounter the ocean’s ultimate predator, the great white shark. Here, the nutrient rich waters wash over rocky reefs, and vast kelp forests thrive, providing food for diverse animals and plants, among them Cape clawless otters. In the realm of the Agulhas, you can explore the Knysna estuary and its most charismatic inhabitant, the Knysna seahorse. Follow the sardine run on the east coast and witness the suite of predators that feasts on this silver cornucopia.

Currents of Contrast is accessible, informative and entertaining, providing the detail and substance that will reward the serious naturalist. Photographs appearing in this book were taken specifically for the publication and many feature behaviour never seen or photographed before.

About the Authors

Claudio Velásquez Rojas

Claudio Velásquez Rojas obtained his BSc and MSc in Chile, and travelled to South Africa in the late 1980s. In 1993 he received a PhD in zoology for his research into wading birds in the Berg River estuary, and subsequently spent many years researching the ecology of rocky shores. Claudio now works for François Odendaal Productions as a film producer and director, specializing in projects that promote sustainable living and the need to revive the close link between humans and the environment.

He has filmed and directed several documentary series for the SABC such as The Last Edens, Secrets of Nature and A Last Glimpse. His photographs have been published in magazines such as Africa Geographic, BBC Wildlife, and National Geographic, and in books such as The Last Edens of Africa and Aspects of Life.

Thomas Peschak

Thomas P. Peschak is a marine biologist at the University of Cape Town’s Marine Biology Research Institute. He leads ongoing research into abalone poaching, kelp forest ecology, Cape Clawless Otters and the entho-marine biology knowledge of traditional cultures.

He is an experienced field biologist and research diver and has worked in Africa, Central America, the Middle East and in the South Pacific. Thomas is an award winning natural history photographer and writer specializing in underwater and marine wildlife subject across Africa. He is a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife magazine and to Africa Geographic.

Media Reviews

African Wildlife (Prof. Charles Griffiths)

"In short, this is a magnificent and inspirational addition to the literature on marine life in the region and a worthy successor to the classic and recently out of print Living shores of southern Africa. I strongly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in South African marine life."

Mercury (Billy Suter)

"This is a very impressive coffee table book, offering a comprehensive look at life in Southern Africa's two oceans."

Endangered Wildlife

"This book is highly recommended, and it will convert many readers into avid marine conservationists."

Fishing Industry News

"It makes an immediate impact, the striking cover invites the reader to open the book, and to be lost forever in the pages!"

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