THE LIVES OF WHALES AND DOLPHINS by Richard C. Connor

THE LIVES OF WHALES AND DOLPHINS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An informative, nuts-and-bolts look at the compelling world of whales and dolphins from Connor, vice president of the Shark Bay Research Foundation, and Peterson, a freelance science writer. In the second in a series on animal behavior from the American Museum of Natural History, Connor and Peterson paint a broad canvas of the cetacean's natural history. Although advances in cetacean biology have proceeded by leaps and bounds over the last two decades, much about these creatures remains murky. Connor and Peterson, while thoroughly covering what is thought to be known, give plenty of ink to conjecture and theory. While the fact that whales may once have been footed land creatures is admittedly fascinating, the text really gets captivating when it describes cetacean social dynamics: from tender courting rituals to domestic tendings and squabbles, from extraordinary displays of cooperation and affection to what can only be understood as gang behavior- -hooligans looking for trouble. There are loners, too, as Connor and Peterson note, rebels among the compassionate midwives, protective circlers, and baby sitters. But this is also a hardheaded science text with comparative anatomy, orientation and navigation techniques, migration routes, foraging activities, and measures of intelligence prominently figuring in the text. And cetacean communication skills--those clusters of whistles, clicks, pops, growls, and moans now available on audio cassette--receive up-to-date ponderings. Connor and Peterson close with a chapter on the near-extinction of the Yangtze River baiji, a freshwater dolphin. It is a sorry tale of habitat destruction and that dubious testament to progress, the hydroelectric dam. A thorough and engaging overview of magnetic creatures that have kept humans lost in amazement for thousands of years. (Photos and line drawings, not seen)

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-8050-1950-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994




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