Synopses & Reviews
The largest creatures to inhabit the Earth, whales have long inspired awe in human beings. Because they spend almost 95 percent of their time beneath the ocean surface, however, little has been known about their lives--until recently. With advances in technology and more intense study, fresh facts are coming to light about these magnificent mammals, and to be a whale watcher now, says acclaimed author and wildlife biologist Douglas Chadwick, is to have a front-row seat to stunning discoveries.
Chadwick has followed and reported on whales for more than a decade, and in The Grandest of Lives he offers a fascinating insider's view of modern-day scientific whale observation--from data gathering to spirited scientific debate to expedition storytelling. In detailed portraits of five whale species that represent a cross-section of the forms and lifestyles of cetaceans worldwide--the humpback, northern bottlenose, blue whale, minke whale, and orca--Chadwick moves deftly from natural history to more personal observations, clearly communicating his fondness and admiration for these mammoth masters of the sea, as well as the sheer joy of being among them.
"Wildlife biologist Chadwick's fascination with whales began when he found himself floating nose to nose with an inquisitive humpback off the coast of Maui. Since that heady experience, he has traveled the seas with whale researchers, becoming ever more enchanted with these great mammals. In this compelling book, he records what he has learned and observed of five whale species, including the humpback, described by Melville as 'the most gamesome and light-hearted of all the whales'; the bottlenose, an exceptionally intelligent whale that can dive to great depths; and the orca, misnamed the 'killer' whale, a very social whale that does not attack humans. As he observes the whales' habits and listens to the sounds they use to communicate with each other, Chadwick (The Fate of the Elephant) struggles to remain objective. But this is difficult. Whales have such a complex assortment of lifestyles, cultures and social relationships, it's hard to avoid anthropomorphizing them, especially since they seem to be as curious about humans as humans are about them. The author's enthusiasm for these extraordinary creatures effectively draws the reader into the whales' underwater environment and makes a powerful case for increased efforts to preserve that environment. Six b&w illus. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Acclaimed nature writer Douglas Chadwick offers engaging portraits of five diverse whale species--the humpback, northern bottlenose, blue whale, minke whale, and orca--in the context of his hands-on adventures with prominent whale researchers.