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Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings

by Fran Hodgkins

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-618-55673-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Although their ancestors came from the land, whales now live completely in water except when they strand themselves on shore for reasons that scientists are now trying to understand. This latest addition to the Scientists in the Field series focuses more on the animals than the researchers, describing whales’ transformation from land to water mammal over the passage of eons, their first encounters with humans and the extensive whale-hunting industry before turning to the various scientific theories about their strandings. The author clearly explains the various possibilities: hearing damage, echolocation confused by shallow bays, magnetic variations, weather, illness and injury, toxins and whale social structure. Another chapter describes necropsies, DNA research and investigations of the cetacean ear. Finally, she presents two stranding events with very different endings. The text and color photographs are interesting and informative, although the lack of particular human focus distances the subject in ways that other volumes in the series do not. Still, the topic is new and the many questions still left for whale researchers should intrigue young readers. (bibliography, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)