________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 15 . . . . March 16, 2007


Whale Watcher: A Global Guide to Watching Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises in the Wild.

Trevor Day.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2006.
160 pp. pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 1-55407-200-X.

Subject Headings:
Whale watching.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Elizabeth Larssen.

**** /4


It is the sudden appearance of a whale, dolphin or porpoise at the sea surface that provides the thrill of any whale-watching trip. Identifying the species of animal you are viewing is not always easy. Rough seas or bright sunshine create tricky viewing conditions. Identifying any cetacean is a gradual process of elimination, ticking off items from a checklist of features. It is common even for cetacean experts to come back from trip with 'unidentified species' written in their notebooks.

But, with experience, you can learn what to look for and become adept at spotting the telltale combinations of shape, size, color and behavior that enable you to distinguish one species from another."

Children and adults alike are captivated by whales – the popularity of aquarium shows featuring whales in captivity and whale watching excursions are a testament to the human fascination with them. Trevor Day, who is a marine biologist and zoologist by training, has produced an exceptional book that will satisfy the most ardent fan of whales and whale-watching. Although this work is not specifically a book for children, Whale Watcher: A Global Guide to Watching Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises in the Wild provides an excellent overview of various whale, dolphin and porpoise species and where they can be seen around the world.

     The book is divided into several main sections, the first being "An Introduction to Watching" which includes subtopics on cetaceans, life cycle, communication, behaviour, places to watch and identification. Importantly, it also deals with issues of conservation and responsible whale watching. The remainder of the book is divided into watching different whales by type – rorqual whales, right and grey whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, white whales, blackfish (which includes the popular killer whale), oceanic dolphins (with and without prominent beaks), river dolphins and porpoises. For each species highlighted, there is a descriptive paragraph, as well as identifying characteristics and information on where to watch them. A 'factfile' is also included, providing vital statistics such as scientific name, habitat, status, population, diet, length and weight. A minimum of one full colour photograph of the whale in action and a line-drawing (also in full colour) accompanies the section on each species. A glossary is included, as well as a section on books and magazines as suggested reading. For those interested in whale-watching tours, there is a listing of useful addresses that contain a general listing of whale-watching tour operators around the world.

     Trevor Day has struck a fine balance with Whale Watcher, which is both highly educational and fun to read. This book is appropriate for older children due to the required reading level and may be used for either school assignments or for young people with a personal interest in whales. The beautiful cover photograph of two orca whales will look stunning on display in a public library.

Highly Recommended.

Elizabeth Larssen divides her time between her information services position at a local public library and her studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, where she is pursuing a degree in Library and Information Studies.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.