The cultural lives of whales and dolphins.

The cultural lives of whales and dolphins. Hal Whitehead, Luke Rendell.
The cultural lives of whales and dolphins.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Octavo, dustwrapper, photographs, line drawings.

There are many clear examples of the transmission of information among cetaceans, such as the songs and bubble feeding of humpback whales; young killer whales learning to knock a seal from an ice floe in the same way their mother does; and the use of sea sponges by the dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia, to protect their beaks while foraging for fish. Just as human cultures pass on languages, tastes in food and modes of dress, could whales and dolphins have developed a culture of their very own? Unequivocally: yes. In this book, cetacean biologists Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell, open an astounding porthole onto the fascinating culture beneath the waves. They show how cetacean culture and its transmission are shaped by a blend of adaptations, innate sociality, and the unique environment in which whales and dolphins live: a watery world in which a hundred-and-fifty-ton blue whale can move with utter grace, and where the vertical expanse is as vital, and almost as vast, as the horizontal. Drawing on their own research as well as a scientific literature as immense as the sea - including evolutionary biology, animal behavior, ecology, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience - Whitehead and Rendell dive into realms both humbling and enlightening as they seek to define what cetacean culture is, why it exists, and what it means for the future of whales and dolphins. And ultimately, what it means for our future, as well. Also available in paperback [stock id 38333].

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