Melville wrote ""The moot point is, whether leviathan can long endure so wide a chase. . ."" and it would appear not. The blue whales have declined from 100,000 to 1,000 in the last thirty years and the sperm whales, with which this is specifically concerned, lose a tenth of their number every year. Aside from its special pleading, this book is ostensibly a year in the life cycle of an infant whale, Little Calf, born tail first under water, weighing in at a ton, travelling in a family of about thirty members all over the world but preferably--in terms of survival--near the equator. In between the days in the life of Little Calf (not as much of a story per se as Allan Eckert's books) there are insets with a remarkable variety of information. Mr. Scheffer, a scientist, has achieved the finest kind of natural history documentary, precise, sensitive, graphic and there will be line drawings by Leonard Everett Fisher.