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Wildlife Encounters- Southern Seas & Shores
Book Reviews

‘A captivating account of the richness, vulnerability and remarkable resilience of wildlife.

Reminiscent of Sir Peter Scott’s famous travel diaries for its vivid descriptions and deft illustrations of life in the wild. Nicolette Scourse is an entertaining and marvellously perceptive guide to the wild places and creatures of southern seas. Charming illustrations and colourful story-telling draw you into Nicolette Scourse’s world so completely that you soon feel you are with her at the wild edges of the human world.’

Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, Chief Scientific Advisor to Blue Planet ll, WWF UK Ambassador, author, scuba diver.  24 Feb 2020

'I love your illustrations. You write so beautifully and so evocatively that I almost feel like I'm on the boat with Rastus.’ (Note: The dog, Rastus, communed with dolphins and they with him and he knew one pod from another.)'

Sharon Stevenson, Community and Events Fundraising Manager Whale and Dolphin Conservation


‘It is a real treasure. Your drawings are so lovely, and full of life, and there's something about them - they just - well, they just make me happy.  I am really enjoying reading about your experiences, I love your approach, personable and engaging, and so many important insights, it's a great way to learn. One of my favourite stories so far is Rastus and the dolphins. Amazing!’ (from Australia: written in aftermath of NSW bushfires)

‘It is not just the subject matter, but the beauty of the writing that I find so impressive ...   You were very up-to-date to include the firefighters in your dedication: a much appreciated gesture. ...I love the delicate art work.’  (from Australia: written in aftermath of Canberra bushfires.)

‘What an amazing whale experience! Loved the description of the pink lady.’ 

'Your descriptions are wonderful and so real… How do you do it? It's as if you are writing all the time as you are there on the spot.'

‘I have just started your book and was bowled over on the very first page before I got to any wild encounters by your command of the English language... Your descriptions have transported me into a completely new world.’ 

 ‘...really enjoying it. The way you write makes me feel like I am there. I love the story of Rastus the dog who can hear dolphins.’

‘I really loved your book. It was a boost.’ ‘Wonderful book, the illustrations are so good - I can almost smell the sea.’    (two doctors during Covid-19).

‘The book is delightful. I especially enjoy the drawings - what a talented lady!! To be a zoologist is clever, to be able to draw that very well is a wonderful gift, and to combine the two and share the results is very special.’ 

‘A most impressive piece of work... Your enthusiasm, knowledge and command of the English language radiated from every page... There was so much to pick out of your book: facts, anecdotes and philosophical observations that I was alternately edified, amused and nodding my head. 

I also liked the human history...That really brought home the scale and desolation of the shores along the Australian Bight and West Coast. There were so many things I discovered... that Western Blue Gropers are into gender re-assignment...’

‘Loved the look of the new book.  A friend of mine, whose daughter lives in Australia most of the time, was quite captivated by the previous one - so I will pass it on to her.’ 

‘If it helps to give you a fillip for the very last hurdle of your second (‘Encounters...’) book, I wanted to let you know that I love your first. Your descriptions are not only beautiful and thoughtful, I feel as if I‘m right there alongside you... on the sand, in the boat and in the water! I’m also learning a lot...’

‘I loved the book, wonderful drawings!’ 

AUDIENCE COMMENTS on TALK: Unexpected Connections: Wildlife and Climate Change’ forClimate Friendly Bradford on Avon, July 2020 (review and photos see below). 

‘We... learnt so much, from you - you have so much practical knowledge, and thanks to your books that knowledge is being spread.’  

‘Marvellous drawings!’   ‘Certainly felt actively involved and interested’

 ‘A very interesting meeting. Fascinating stuff...  Are you going to send out the two pieces of film that we did view, to watch again?’

‘It was very interesting evening, she is a good speaker as well as so knowledgeable and wonderful drawings.’



For our July meeting via zoom we did something a little different - a book launch complete with three videos. Local author, Nicolette's book, Wild Encounters - Southern Sea and Shores was published this summer. Our meeting featured two videos which Nicolette and her husband, Peter had made and participants were also sent a link to the third video... (well worth watching).


Liz Stephens has written an account of the meeting... 
Wildlife Encounters - The July CFB talk
Nicolette Scourse gave an interesting and varied talk focusing on her encounters in a number of environments. Based on her fascinating books Wild Encounters: Try Not To Smile (2016) and Wildlife Encounters: Southern Seas and Shores (2020) we learnt about the human impact on the planet and ocean food chains.

Wildlife Encounters July CFB talk ...

We were shown specimens of bivalves from Dunnet Bay Beach in Scotland (including Icelandic Clams) and others from Australia and New Zealand. Our attention was drawn to the lines found on the mollusc shells...

Beautiful shells tell the story of past sea conditions.

Studies have been done on Icelandic clams that point to climate change. These clams can live for over 500 years and are aged using the lines which are counted from the ‘hinge’. One such clam ‘Ming’, 507 years old was studied... the growth lines reflecting sea temperature, surface temperature, salinity, food availability, sea level pressure and currents. Ming lived... through a little ice age and a volcanic eruption followed by a rise in temperature due to industrial greenhouse gas emissions (- all shown in his lines). Oceanographers agree that such emissions affect both the atmosphere and oceans.


Icelandic clams – their growth lines read like bar codes giving yearly details of sea,
atmosphere and climate. Overlapping sequences of shell timelines give a picture of a long timescale
– now up to 2,000 years.

Various ocean food chains were looked at... Examples were given as to what happens when new species are introduced (accidentally by man) ... Other amazing creatures were seen via Nicolette’s fine drawings.

She brought us up to date with a discussion on the recent forest fires in Australia and their impact, comparing it to her own experiences as a child.

Her books are praised by Chris Packham ‘ fresh, accessible, fascinating, wonderfully evocative’ and Callum Roberts who was the Chief Scientific Advisor to Blue Planet 2 as ‘reminiscent of Peter Scott’s diaries, a captivating account’ and R. Quantrill ‘ they take you to another place’.


Beyond Boundaries Real and Virtual Journeys blog on 25/06/2020

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Rastus - The Tale of an Extraordinary Dog and His Love of Dolphins Blog  on 01/09/2020

From Amazon:

5 star rating A present for Passionate conservationists

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 May 2020

Verified Purchase

'Wildlife Encounters - Southern Seas & Shores' is a book which will delight all who are passionate about conservation. The author, Dr Nicolette Scourse, is an academic and this shows in her detailed descriptions of plants and animals but what shines though most is her utter enthusiasm for protecting them from mankind's lack of care, indeed wilful destruction. The book covers the author's travels to wild and remote areas of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Wild these areas may be but they were not too remote to prevent the industrial slaughter of Southern Right Whales (the easiest of whale targets) and Fur Seals to the brink of extinction, never mind the cruelty; the Fur Seal slaughter, of course, being to fuel the fashion industry. These industries may now be dead but have been replaced by the less pernicious but nonetheless disturbing arrival of mass tourism and the quest for selfies with wild creatures etc etc. The author is a master of the English language and her graphic descriptions are impressive but I was most moved by her revelations of man's impact on these wild spaces, past, present and future - and in some anecdotes, of man's own struggle for survival.’


5 out of 5 stars A joy to read by Ms S Kearney 30th April 2020 

As the title suggests, this book is about the author’s encounters with wildlife, mainly in New Zealand and the West and South coast of Australia and Tasmania. What a wonderful book to be stuck at home with in these times of lock-down. This is a real treat for wildlife lovers - abundant with encounters with dolphins and whales - and a joy to experience the natural world through the eyes of an expert.

You will find out grizzly facts about the sly Kelp Gull that seek out whale calves and their mothers to gouge out holes through the whales’ skin to feed on the blubber. Not stopping at that, Nicolette soberly goes on to explain why this behaviour is happening – brought about because landfill sites led to the over population of these gulls so when fish-processing plant waste output was reduced, they had to seek out alternative food sources.

The book includes very pertinent observations about the real effects of climate change, including how rising sea temperatures increase populations of sea urchin which feed on Giant Kelp therefore reducing microhabitats for rich biodiversity. In addition, you will find out about a variety of essential conservation projects, such as the Maremma dogs trained to guard wild Fairy Penguins from invasive feral species.

Nicolette combines her keen eye for detail, drawing ability and knowledge to document sightings with illustrations included throughout the book. They enrich the work and demonstrate the author’s love of nature and scientific knowledge, such as describing the anatomy of Fur Seals, which make them such agile swimmers, and later that of the albatross, which make them adept at flying.

Possibly the author’s years of lecturing and teaching which has successfully honed the way she describes her magical encounters with infectious enthusiasm, humour and tenderness. Generous with her knowledge, she brings the natural world to life in an engaging and insightful manner. Hopefully, there will be yet more ‘Wildlife Encounters’ to come …




Wild Encounters Book Reviews

Chris Packham

"Dive in and swim in a swirling diary of some of the worlds most beautiful waters and then stroll on the shores of some fascinating and informative stories..... Fresh, accessible and fascinating, I swam through these sub aqua stories and gazed into parts of the world and its wildlife with absolute joy.... Wonderfully evocative, full of gems of natural history and rich in the joys of exploration this colourful and engaging book was a delight to swim through" Chris Packham 6 Jan 2017.


"I have been fortunate enough to come into contact with a true Superlifer, Nicolette Scourse,  who has just written the most fascinating book "... read the article on

'WILD ENCOUNTERS - TRY NOT TO SMILE’ was nominated by enthusiastic readers in the quest for ‘UK’S FAVOURITE BOOK ABOUT NATURE’ part of Land Lines research project (Arts and Humanities Research Council). Naturalist Chris Packham, musician and BBC 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews and Children’s author Julia Donaldson helped get the campaign started, and it was launched in October 2017 in Autumnwatch and BBC Wildlife Magazine. 770 nominations were received, featuring 213 authors covering 278 different titles, spanning a timescale from Gilbert White’s 1789 Natural History of Selborne to the present day and many different book forms - memoir, explorations of local place, fiction, writing for children and poetry.

From Amazon:


 5 out of 5 stars A joy to read by M Atkinson 9 January 2018

A delightful read. One of the best nature books to come out for years covering aspects of marine life not widely covered hitherto. Highly intelligent yet easy to read, Nicolette Scourse opens up insights not previously encountered. A voyage of discovery.

5 out of 5 stars A beautiful book. By Peter 15 Feb 2017

Terrific, and beautifully written, Nicolette's book brings back in full technicolor experiences many of which I have had myself and am delighted to see through her eyes5.0

5 out of 5 stars Fantastic book. 15 Jan. 2017 By richard daines

This review is for: Wild Encounters Try Not To Smile (Paperback)
Fantastic book . This book is a cross between a wildlife book and a wonderful journey under the water and land, it has moments of great story telling that sometimes you feel like you are standing or crouching with the author. It really is a life time experience
of understanding the world we live in. The birds ,mammals ,fish and some amazing people the author has found on her travels. Richard

5 out of 5 stars Don't miss this intriguing trip beneath the waves By Mrs J. on 23 Dec. 2016

Format: Paperback
I am passionate about people achieving success at any age but particularly as they grow older. Nicolette is a shining example of just such a person. Her enthusiasm for wildlife and her ability to create stunning word pictures of the natural worlds in which she finds herself make this a book to treasure. Her line drawings add visual depth to the tapestry of her life below and above the waves as she interacts with the wild creatures she encounters. A thread of gentle humour runs through the fabric of Nicolette's island adventures pulling together an unforgettable glimpse into the lives of the creatures with whom we share the planet.

5 out of 5 stars The author is also a brilliant artist on 4 Dec. 2016

Wild Encounters Try Not To Smile - This book positively effervesces with spectacular descriptions of animals in the wild, powered by the passion of a writer who is not only committed to conservation but also has the eye for detail of a research scientist. It is the literary equivalent of a David Attenborough video. So vivid are the descriptions that the reader has no need for a video screen. The author is also a brilliant artist but, alas, the black-and-white print copies do not do justice to the original artwork.

5 out of 5 stars A wonderfully written book for anyone with a sense of adventure or love of nature. By AJ on 20 Oct. 2016

A wonderfully written book for anyone with a sense of adventure or love of nature. Nicolette takes us to 5 spots around the world and gives a 'descriptive encounter of her connection with nature and wildlife. You can sense her deep love of the sea and all it's inhabitants through the way it is written. If you've ever been and explored the ocean, or ever felt like you wanted to, give this book a read to feed that desire.

Read all Amazon customer reviews here.


This book is like "...dipping into the box of sweets as a treat to go on a journey with you. Densely written so each sentence creates a full picture of the place and the adventure and the sketches simply add to that and they made me smile." Faith

"The author has a rare ability to connect the scientific with the personal, taking you on a journey which makes you invest personally in the protection of Nature/The Natural World.  It is both important and compelling." Daniel

"There is no doubt Nicolette is a marvellous story teller. This delightful book constantly rewards the reader by conveying, in words and images detailed  personal adventures and scientific knowledge in a friendly open hearted way. Nicolette’s passion for the natural world shines out on every page. I have no hesitation in recommending it as a very good read which fire the imagination and take you into exotic  unfamiliar  places."  Jenny        

"Wild Encounters – Try Not To Smile never ceases to surprise and entertain.  Nicolette Scourse employs her impressive academic, professional and practical background to telling effect resulting in a fascinating narrative about creatures above and below the surface in Scotland, the Caribbean, the Seychelles, Maldives, Yap and Palau.   These are hard earned personal experiences and she illustrates her story with delightful sketches which are themselves superb. The book is a joy to read and avoids the “slush” all too frequently served up by some modern narrators describing animals. I predict this volume will go down as a 2017 classic." Dick


Inspirational story- Click here.

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