Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. Large octavo, laminated boards, colour illustrations, line drawings.
Beaked whales have been shrouded in mystery for most of the twentieth century. Denizens of deep, remote ocean waters and highly resistant to life in captivity, they have proven notoriously difficult for humans to observe. Over the past few decades, however, scientists have gained a better understanding of this distinct group of cetaceans, deciphering the natural history of the twenty-two beaked whale species. Here, famed artist and naturalist Richard Ellis and leading beaked whale researcher James G. Mead bring these elusive marine mammals into the limelight. Beaked whales' generous life spans can extend well past 70 years. They spend their decades diving to extreme depths in search of prey, which they capture by expanding their oral cavity suddenly to suck in the squid or fish they are hunting. It appears that these sleek predators may engage in fierce, clandestine aquatic battles, as the bodies of many males are covered in scars. Because many species are only somewhat larger than dolphins, they are often confused with porpoises; however, some larger beaked whale species may grow to 40 feet.
These enigmatic and compelling creatures need our help; their numbers are declining, perhaps due to the damaging effects of naval sonar on their sophisticated auditory systems. In Ellis and Mead's book, the beaked whales finally get their due. The duo provides a combination of captivating stories about the species, original Richard Ellis art, and photos from leading natural history photographers. The result is an accessible, beautiful book-the first of its kind on this unusual group of cetaceans. Meet the beaked whales, and enjoy the fascinating and mysterious world in which they live.
Price: $138.00 AU