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Behind the Scenes - The Complex Lives of British Freshwater Fishes

Compiling an illustrated guide to freshwater fish

Posted on: November 24, 2020

As part of our new behind-the-scenes series of blog posts, which share insights into our authors’ writing processes, in this post we’re delighted to share an interview with Mark Everard and underwater photographer Jack Perks, who discuss their latest book The Complex Lives of British Freshwater Fishes.


This book arose from Dr Mark Everard’s interest in elevating public – and much nature conservation – perceptions of the British fish fauna from something largely dismissed as ‘out of sight and out of mind’ below the surface film, perhaps only appreciated in batter or in a fish pond, into something inherently fascinating, diverse and of great value to us all.

Jack Perks, a preeminent underwater photographer and film-maker and also an angling friend of Mark’s, shares this passion and has contributed to greater public appreciation of the British freshwater fish fauna through books of his own, as well as many contributions to high-profile magazines and TV programmes.


Mark and Jack passionate anglers as well as fish twitchers

Mark and Jack are both passionate anglers as well as ‘fish twitchers’.


It was perhaps then fated, or at least logical, that Mark and Jack would collaborate to produce this informative, scientifically founded yet accessible and exquisitely illustrated new book.  Together they take a genuinely new and informed look at the many marvels hidden in the cool depths of Britain’s rivers, lakes, ditches, streams and estuaries. Mark explains:

“The book took shape progressively through many discussions, sifting of relevant images and identification of the need for new photographs, shared angling and filming sessions to fill the gaps, and much beer and laughter.  Fun though the writing process was, other authors will also identify the blood. sweat and tears entailed in crossing the finishing line, both of us also learning a great deal in achieving the end result.  We are genuinely pleased with this new book, and the quality of production by CRC.  Each of us brought something new – in fact in many ways unique – to the production of this volume.

Finalizing our submissions of images and text in early 2020, we were delighted to see the 355-page, profusely illustrated, final product.  We hope it will inspire its readers about the wonderful world down below the water’s surface, and the importance of protecting this often-overlooked natural wealth for our future wellbeing.”


Fish book and fish net

The Complex Lives of British Freshwater Fishes takes a look at the way our wealth of freshwater fishes go about living their complex lives, contributing in many ways to human wellbeing, with words written by Mark and wonderful underwater images by Jack.


by Mark Everard, Photography by Jack Perks

The Complex Lives of British Freshwater Fishes is a departure from the usual ‘fish biology text’, bringing these charismatic species to life with stunning photography and stories about the unique and fascinating behaviour of our native freshwater fishes. It shows how freshwater fish provide food, ornamentation, sport and cultural identity, and highlights their huge importance for conservation as part of the living ecosystems upon which we all depend.

Visit Book Page




Images provided by the authors for inclusion in this blog post.