Author: John Bannister
First published: 2008
Format: Paperback 142 pages
Whales are mysterious and fascinating creatures. Despite modern technology, their world is still largely unexplored and unknown. They can only be seen, or rather glimpsed, when they are near the sea surface, either from boats, or perhaps from shore, or underwater by divers. They also reach astonishing sizes – the blue whale, for example, can grow to 30 metres in length, equivalent to the height of a six-story building, and can weigh more than 130 tonnes.
Seven ‘Great Whales’ are found in the coastal waters surrounding Australia. These include six of the largest baleen whales – blue whale, fin whale, humpback whale, sei whale, Bryde’s whale and southern right whale – and the sperm whale, the largest toothed whale. This book provides a detailed account of these extraordinary mammals. As well as the seven Great Whales, a smaller species – the minke whale – is included because of its special interest to Australians. The book describes whales’ highly specialised mammalian structure and biology, and the history of people’s association with them, at first through legend and wonder, then whaling, and more recently whale watching. It also looks at their past and current status, and the conservation initiatives that are in place to protect them from existing or potential threats. With both historical and recent photographs, as well as an extensive glossary, Great Whales will be enjoyed by natural history enthusiasts, zoologists and students alike.