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Media Contacts: Keith Dawson
British Virgin Islands Tourist Board
Tel: 284-494-3134 Email:

Catherine van Kampen
British Virgin Islands Press Office, FCB NY
Tel: 212-885-3892 Email:

Remar Sutton
Governor, Trustees of the BVI National Parks, USA
Tel: 404-229-5094 Email:

Jean-Michel Cousteau, George Plimpton, Robert Ginsburg, Zale Parry
Praise Dr. Richard Murphy’s New Book, Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea

November 18, 2002, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands…Why do parrotfish eat algae and grind up coral? They’re making sand. One parrotfish can make over 300 lbs of sand in a year. Who needs tube sponges? One mature sponge can purify 200,000 gallons of water in one year. What does a parrotfish population do when it has too many females? Simple, some of the females turn into males.

How do dentists advertise in the undersea coral world? Simple, the “dentist,” a small wrasse, uses its distinctive color as a “sign” to attract business. Did you know that “snapping shrimp” use an underwater sonic wave to stun their prey?

All of us have admired the beauty of coral reefs and the wonderful creatures that populate them. Dr. Richard Murphy’s new book, Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea, tells the story of that undersea world in a fascinating, accessible manner, which makes young and old alike want to fuss over preserving this fragile world.

George Plimpton, author and editor, seems to agree: “This book is so brilliantly beautiful and informative,” Plimpton says, “one only wishes for scuba gear to become part of Dr. Murphy’s coral reefs.”

Murphy, Director of Science and Education for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, spent twenty-six years working directly with legendary Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel’s father. He has scuba dived in over thirty countries. Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea, released this fall, uses extraordinary pictures, all taken by Dr. Murphy, and clearly understandable human analogies to tell the “personal” stories of the corals and other living creatures Dr. Murphy has seen.

Dr. Murphy lets you ease-drop on the funny, cranky, terrifying world of a coral reef, and the lessons we learn on the reefs translate directly to the quality of our own lives. “The focus of this book,” Dr. Murphy says, “is on how a coral reef functions: the jobs of individual residents and how they collectively create a sustainable community.”

“People do not exist outside the domain of nature,” says Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society ( “Dr. Murphy’s book makes us realize that everything is connected in the ocean world, as in the rest of the world. We are all part of nature, and inseparable from it. Our well-being,” Cousteau continues, “is linked to the health of our environment.”

“Here is a scientist you can understand,” Mr. Cousteau concludes,” who relates the extraordinary life of a coral reef to the readers’ own quality of life.” For instance, Dr. Murphy shows how solar energy is used to power the reef; he shows you there is no “waste” in a coral community—everything is recycled. He shows the reader that biodiversity helps create a sustainable community.

Robert N. Ginsburg, Professor of Marine Geology, Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, commented on Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea, stating, “The book is a most unusual hybrid, part reef textbook, part entertainment, educational and awe-inspiring. I can only hope that this volume receives the attention it deserves and that it will be in libraries worldwide to dazzle, inspire and inform.”

“Oceans of blessings Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea, for its moving, intelligent explanation of the mysteries of coral reefs. Dr. Richard Murphy eloquently conveys his exhilaration and excitement of science, the challenge of adventure and the search for preservation in this book. It offers thought provoking, wise and amusing comparisons of life in coral reefs to life in London, New York, or any other city you may know. Coral Reefs is a gift to all generations who love nature and wish to preserve its beauty,” said Zale Parry, pioneer diver, historian, actress, author and ocean advocate.

“I believe reef communities exist in a dynamic equilibrium where forces of competition, destruction, and decay are balanced by cooperation, repair, and rejuvenation,” Murphy says.

Coral Reefs, Cities Under The Sea, is a landmark book because it combines dramatic and beautiful pictures with the real “inside story” of life on a reef. Coral Reefs, Cities Under The Sea is available online at

Dr. Murphy is the developer of a groundbreaking eight-week environmental seminar being taught at British Virgin Islands High School in Tortola, BVI. He is also Chief Marine Consultant to The Trustees of the British Virgin Islands National Parks, USA, an international group of environmentally conscientious individuals working on highlighting the unique natural treasures of the BVI. Information on the Trustees work can be found on the Internet at

Dr. Murphy is additionally a consultant to the new Marine Center at H. Lavitty Stoutt Community College on Tortola, and is a frequent lecturer in the British Virgin Islands.

For further information, please contact Remar Sutton by telephone at 404-229-5094 or via email at For remote radio phone-ins or to interview Dr. Murphy, email him at (0=zero) or telephone 831-458-2437. Pictures available upon request.

For further information on the BVI National Parks Trust visit or For information on the British Virgin Islands, visit or call 1-800-835-8530 and speak with a BVI specialist.