BOOKS: Whalewatcher: A global guide to watching whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2007:
A global guide to watching whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild
by Trevor Day
Firefly Books Ltd.
(66 Leek Crescent, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4B 1H1), 2006.
204 pp., paperback, illustrated. $19.95.
Though Whalewatcher is structured as a field guide, armchair
travelers will probably spend more time with it than marine mammal
observers seeking to compile a life list.
More than 10 million people per year watch whales, dolphins,
and porpoises or about as many as watched birds a generation ago,
before the recent global explosion of interest in birding.
However, while anyone can watch birds from anywhere, few
people have any opportunity to watch marine mammals from their homes,
workplaces, or during a commute, and even those of us who do have
the opportunity rarely manage many sightings.
United Nations Development Program zoologist and marine
biologist Trevor Day in Whalewatcher describes 41 whale, dolphin,
and porpoise species–about half of the known varieties. Day focuses
on the most observable species, except for the Chinese baiji, or
river dolphin, now officially extinct.
Yet, even though the listed species are mostly relatively
easily seen, if one can go where they live, seeing all 40 would
require visits to every corner of the world. Compiling a life list
of 400 bird species would be comparatively simple.
In view of the difficulty and expense of whale-watching,
one must wonder why Day omits mention of three of the most accessible
venues: the junction of the Saguenay River with the St. Lawrence
River estuary in Quebec, hosting minke whales, fin whales, a small
population of resident belugas, and occasional visiting blue whales;
the Stellwagen Bank off Cape Cod, featuring minke and fin whales,
with many other species passing by; and Lime Kiln Point, on the
western side of San Juan Island in Puget Sound, renowned as an
especially good spot for watching orcas and Dall’s porpoises,
occasionally visited by minkes and grey whales.