Ocean Realm Magazine
You also got involved in editing Ocean Realm magazine. How did that come about?»Richard Stewart, the founder, sold the magazine in
the mid- 1980s. I was interviewed by the new owner, who by twist of fate, hired both Ned DeLoach and me as coeditors. Ned’s claim to fame at the time was his Florida Divers Guide and his close association with the cave diving community. Ned and I had become acquainted several years before through a mutual friend and immediately struck up a strong friendship. You met Ned DeLoach then. Is that what fostered the basis of the New World Publications business?»Indeed, it was our working together at Ocean Realm that made us realize we worked well together and we formulated the idea of a series of guidebooks at that time. Starting a publishing company from scratch in a decidedly niche market like marine life ID books had to be a challenge. What were your first titles and how did you break into the market?»We needed over $100,000 (in 1978 dollars) to put out the first book so we tried to find a partner. First we approached a printer and then a color separator, but both turned out to be less than desirable partners. We were lucky neither worked out. We didn’t want to go to a book publisher because both of us had had bad experiences with other publishers in the past. Besides, we wanted to run the whole show, so we decided to bite the bullet and took a big gamble. We both second-mortgaged our homes to the hilt and lived off of credit cards, hoping to pay everything back within three to five years. Ned was already successfully marketing his Florida Divers Guide directly to dive stores, so they easily agreed to start selling our first Reef Fish Identification book as well. We are a great example of the American Dream come true, because the book was an instant hit and sold like hot cakes. We paid off our second mortgages in only six months! We have run in the black ever since.
How many titles are in the New World library now?»Ten books that we authored and we are working on two more. We also market a number of additional books by other publishers and are starting to publish books by other authors like you and Stan Waterman. Since your books are about the only comprehensive ones out there, how do you get your identifications?»It started back when I was living in Cayman. On a night dive I discovered a fish with glowing light organs under its eyes. Shortly before then I happened to have dinner with Al Giddings and he told me about filming Flashlight fish in the Red Sea. So I thought this was the same thing. One of my passengers told Dr. Bill Smith-Vaniz, a noted ichthyologist, about the sighting. Next thing I knew he was on the phone. It seems the species in the Caribbean was named Kryptophron alfredii, and was known only from a couple of dead specimens collected at over 600 feet way back in the early 1920s. My sighting created quite a stir in the world of ichthyology because they were thought not only to be rare, but also to inhabit only deep depths. Shortly thereafter we were chartered for two weeks by the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and the California Academy of Sciences to find and collect this little bugger. And, indeed we found and captured the first living specimen at 220 ft. on a night dive. Remember Martini’s Outlaws? No, I don’t dive that deep anymore and no, I don’t think anyone should unless they are on mixed gas – I survived by dumb luck. Ultimately, we found the species as shallow as 40 feet late on moonless nights.