front cover of Among Giants
Among Giants
A Life with Whales
Charles "Flip" Nicklin with K. M. Kostyal
University of Chicago Press, 2011

It all started in 1965 with a guy riding a whale. The guy was Flip Nicklin’s father, Chuck, and the whale was an unlucky Bryde’s Whale that had gotten caught up in some anchor line. Hoping to free the whale, Chuck and some friends took their boat as near as they could, and, just before they cut it loose, Chuck posed astride it for a photo.


That image, carried on wire services nationwide, became a sensation and ultimately changed the life of Chuck’s young son, Flip. In the decades since that day, Flip Nicklin has made himself into the world’s premier cetacean photographer. It’s no exaggeration to say that his photos, published in such venues as National Geographic and distributed worldwide, have virtually defined these graceful, powerful creatures in the mind of the general public—even as they helped open new ground in the field of marine mammalogy.


Among Giants tells the story of Nicklin’s life and career on the high seas, from his first ill-equipped shoots in the mid-1970s through his long association with the National Geographic Society to the present, when he is one of the founders of Whale Trust, a nonprofit conservation and research group. Nicklin is equal parts photographer, adventurer, self-trained scientist, and raconteur, and Among Giants reflects all those sides, matching breathtaking images to firsthand accounts of their making, and highlighting throughout the importance of conservation and new advances in our understanding of whale behavior. With Nicklin as our guide, we see not just whales but also our slowly growing understanding of their hidden lives, as well as the evolution of underwater photography—and the stunning clarity and drama that can be captured when a determined, daring diver is behind the lens.


Humpbacks, narwhals, sperm whales, orcas—these and countless other giants of the ocean parade through these pages, spouting, breaching, singing, and raising their young. Nicklin’s photographs bring us so completely into the underwater world of whales that we can’t help but feel awe, while winning, personal accounts of his adventures remind us of what it’s like to be a lone diver sharing their sea.


For anyone who has marveled at the majesty of whales in the wild, Among Giants is guaranteed to be inspiring, even moving—its unmatched images of these glorious beings an inescapable reminder of our responsibility as stewards of the ocean.

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front cover of Cetacean Societies
Cetacean Societies
Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales
Edited by Janet Mann, Richard C. Connor, Peter L. Tyack, and Hal Whitehead
University of Chicago Press, 1999
"Part review, part testament to extraordinary dedication, and part call to get involved, Cetacean Societies highlights the achievements of behavioral ecologists inspired by the challenges of cetaceans and committed to the exploration of a new world."—from the preface by Richard Wrangham

Long-lived, slow to reproduce, and often hidden beneath the water's surface, whales and dolphins (cetaceans) have remained elusive subjects for scientific study even though they have fascinated humans for centuries. Until recently, much of what we knew about cetaceans came from commercial sources such as whalers and trainers for dolphin acts. Innovative research methods and persistent efforts, however, have begun to penetrate the depths to reveal tantalizing glimpses of the lives of these mammals in their natural habitats.

Cetacean Societies presents the first comprehensive synthesis and review of these new studies. Groups of chapters focus on the history of cetacean behavioral research and methodology; state-of-the-art reviews of information on four of the most-studied species: bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, sperm whales, and humpback whales; and summaries of major topics, including group living, male and female reproductive strategies, communication, and conservation drawn from comparative research on a wide range of species.

Written by some of the world's leading cetacean scientists, this landmark volume will benefit not just students of cetology but also researchers in other areas of behavioral and conservation ecology as well as anyone with a serious interest in the world of whales and dolphins.

Contributors are Robin Baird, Phillip Clapham, Jenny Christal, Richard Connor, Janet Mann, Andrew Read, Randall Reeves, Amy Samuels, Peter Tyack, Linda Weilgart, Hal Whitehead, Randall S. Wells, and Richard Wrangham.
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front cover of Connection On The Ice
Connection On The Ice
Patti Clayton
Temple University Press, 1998

front cover of Contesting Leviathan
Contesting Leviathan
Activists, Hunters, and State Power in the Makah Whaling Conflict
Les Beldo
University of Chicago Press, 2019
In 1999, off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, the first gray whale in seven decades was killed by Makah whalers. The hunt marked the return of a centuries-old tradition and, predictably, set off a fierce political and environmental debate. Whalers from the Makah Indian Tribe and antiwhaling activists have clashed for over twenty years, with no end to this conflict in sight.
 
In Contesting Leviathan, anthropologist Les Beldo describes the complex judicial and political climate for whale conservation in the United States, and the limits of the current framework in which whales are treated as “large fish” managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Emphasizing the moral dimension of the conflict between the Makah, the US government, and antiwhaling activists, Beldo brings to light the lived ethics of human-animal interaction, as well as how different groups claim to speak for the whale—the only silent party in this conflict. A timely and sensitive study of a complicated issue, this book calls into question anthropological expectations regarding who benefits from the exercise of state power in environmental conflicts, especially where indigenous groups are involved. Vividly told and rigorously argued, Contesting Leviathan will appeal to anthropologists, scholars of indigenous culture, animal activists, and any reader interested in the place of animals in contemporary life.
 
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The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins
Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell
University of Chicago Press, 2014
In the songs and bubble feeding of humpback whales; in young killer whales learning to knock a seal from an ice floe in the same way their mother does; and in the use of sea sponges by the dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia, to protect their beaks while foraging for fish, we find clear examples of the transmission of information among cetaceans. Just as human cultures pass on languages and turns of phrase, tastes in food (and in how it is acquired), and modes of dress, could whales and dolphins have developed a culture of their very own?

Unequivocally: yes. In The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, cetacean biologists Hal Whitehead, who has spent much of his life on the ocean trying to understand whales, and Luke Rendell, whose research focuses on the evolution of social learning, open an astounding porthole onto the fascinating culture beneath the waves. As Whitehead and Rendell show, 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.
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Deep Thinkers
Inside the Minds of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises
Edited by Janet Mann
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Humans aside, dolphins, whales, and porpoises are often considered to be the smartest creatures on Earth. Science and nature buffs are drawn to stories of their use of tools, their self-recognition, their beautiful and complex songs, and their intricate societies. But how do we know what we know, and what does it mean? In Deep Thinkers, renowned cetacean biologist Janet Mann gathers a gam of the world’s leading whale and dolphin researchers—including Luke Rendell, Hal Whitehead, and many more—to illuminate these vital questions, exploring the astounding capacities of cetacean brains.

Diving into our current understanding of and dynamic research on dolphin and whale cognition, communication, and culture, Deep Thinkers reveals how incredibly sophisticated these mammals are—and how much we can learn about other animal minds by studying cetacean behavior. Through a combination of fascinating text and more than 150 beautiful and informative illustrations, chapters compare the intelligence markers of cetaceans with those of birds, bats, and primates, asking how we might properly define intelligence in nonhumans. As all-encompassing and profound as the seas in which these deep cetacean cultures have evolved, Deep Thinkers is an awesome and inspiring journey into the fathoms—a reminder of what we gain through their close study, and of what we lose when the great minds of the sea disappear.
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front cover of Greenlanders, Whales, and Whaling
Greenlanders, Whales, and Whaling
Sustainability and Self-Determination in the Arctic
Richard A. Caulfield
Dartmouth College Press, 2000
Whaling has been central to the life of Greenland's Inuit peoples for at least 4000 years, but political, economic, technological, and regulatory changes have altered this ancient practice. Richard A. Caulfield reveals these impacts first by analyzing Home Rule and its success in Greenland, and then by looking at whaling's place in the contemporary Greenlandic economy and its evolving co-management regime. What emerges from his investigation is an intricate web connecting traditions of indigenous peoples, the promises and pitfalls of co-management, the influence of international whaling policies, the complexities of sustainability, and the power of culturally determined views shaping relationships between humans and their environment. Caulfield finds that controversy over whaling often arises from conflicting idea systems, rather than disagreement over biological resource management. Understanding the ways Greenlanders and outside interests have defined and negotiated these conflicts "gives us more than just an insight into how indigenous peoples are coping with a changing world," he writes. "It also provides us with a sense of the challenges we face as well."
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Little Whale
A Story of the Last Tlingit War Canoe
Roy A. Peratrovich, Jr.
University of Alaska Press, 2016
Keet, a ten-year-old Tlingit Indian boy, stows away for a voyage on his father’s canoe . . . and soon finds himself caught in the middle of a wild seastorm. The story carries him far from his home village, and when he makes land, he winds up right in the middle of a dangerous dispute between two Indian clans. The story of how he copes with these surprises and extricates himself from danger is dramatic and unforgettable.
            And it’s mostly true. Roy Peratrovich here builds a wonderful children’s tale on the bones of a story his own grandfather passed down. His accompanying illustrations bring the people and landscapes of Alaska—to say nothing of the adventures!—to stunning life, drawing young readers into a long-gone time when the whims of nature and man could suddenly test a boy’s courage.
 
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front cover of Living with Whales
Living with Whales
Documents and Oral Histories of Native New England Whaling History
Nancy Shoemaker
University of Massachusetts Press, 2014
Native Americans along the coasts of southern New England and Long Island have had close ties to whales for thousands of years. They made a living from the sea and saw in the world's largest beings special power and meaning. After English settlement in the early seventeenth century, the region's natural bounty of these creatures drew Natives and colonists alike to develop whale hunting on an industrial scale. By the nineteenth century, New England dominated the world in whaling, and Native Americans contributed substantially to whaleship crews.

In Living with Whales, Nancy Shoemaker reconstructs the history of Native whaling in New England through a diversity of primary documents: explorers' descriptions of their "first encounters," indentures, deeds, merchants' accounts, Indian overseer reports, crew lists, memoirs, obituaries, and excerpts from journals kept by Native whalemen on their voyages. These materials span the centuries-long rise and fall of the American whalefishery and give insight into the far-reaching impact of whaling on Native North American communities. One chapter even follows a Pequot Native to New Zealand, where many of his Maori descendants still reside today.

Whaling has left behind a legacy of ambivalent emotions. In oral histories included in this volume, descendants of Wampanoag and Shinnecock whalemen reflect on how whales, whaling, and the ocean were vital to the survival of coastal Native communities in the Northeast, but at great cost to human life, family life, whales, and the ocean environment.
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front cover of Moby-Dick, or The Whale
Moby-Dick, or The Whale
150th Anniversary Edition
Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle
Northwestern University Press, 2001
This edition of Moby-Dick, released in honor of the book's sesquicentennial, is the authoritative text of one of the world's great adventure stories. A crew of whalers sets out in pursuit of a fierce white whale. Their names ring through the canon of American literature: Ishmael, the narrator; Queequeg, a South Seas harpooner; Starbuck, the sober and serious chief mate; and above all Captain Ahab, part-Faust and part-Job, obsessed with the destruction of his foe.

This text of Moby-Dick is an Approved Text of the Center for Scholarly Editions (Modern Language Association of America).
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front cover of The Sounding of the Whale
The Sounding of the Whale
Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century
D. Graham Burnett
University of Chicago Press, 2011

From the Bible’s “Canst thou raise leviathan with a hook?” to Captain Ahab’s “From Hell’s heart I stab at thee!,” from the trials of Job to the legends of Sinbad, whales have breached in the human imagination as looming figures of terror, power, confusion, and mystery.

In the twentieth century, however, our understanding of and relationship to these superlatives of creation underwent some astonishing changes, and with The Sounding of the Whale, D. Graham Burnett tells the fascinating story of the transformation of cetaceans from grotesque monsters, useful only as wallowing kegs of fat and fertilizer, to playful friends of humanity, bellwethers of environmental devastation, and, finally, totems of the counterculture in the Age of Aquarius. When Burnett opens his story, ignorance reigns: even Nature was misclassifying whales at the turn of the century, and the only biological study of the species was happening in gruesome Arctic slaughterhouses. But in the aftermath of World War I, an international effort to bring rational regulations to the whaling industry led to an explosion of global research—and regulations that, while well-meaning, were quashed, or widely flouted, by whaling nations, the first shot in a battle that continues to this day. The book closes with a look at the remarkable shift in public attitudes toward whales that began in the 1960s, as environmental concerns and new discoveries about whale behavior combined to make whales an object of sentimental concern and public adulation.

A sweeping history, grounded in nearly a decade of research, The Sounding of the Whale tells a remarkable story of how science, politics, and simple human wonder intertwined to transform the way we see these behemoths from below.

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front cover of Touching This Leviathan
Touching This Leviathan
Peter Wayne Moe
Oregon State University Press, 2021

Touching This Leviathan asks how we might come to know the unknowable—in this case, whales, animals so large yet so elusive, revealing just a sliver of back, a glimpse of a fluke, or a split-second breach before diving away.

Whale books often sit within disciplinary silos. Touching This Leviathan starts a conversation among them. Drawing on biology, theology, natural history, literature, and writing studies, Peter Wayne Moe offers a deep dive into the alluring and impalpable mysteries of Earth’s largest mammal.

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and swimming with intelligence and wit, Touching is Leviathan is creative nonfiction that gestures toward science and literary criticism as it invites readers into the belly of the whale.

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front cover of We Are All Whalers
We Are All Whalers
The Plight of Whales and Our Responsibility
Michael J. Moore
University of Chicago Press, 2021

Relating his experiences caring for endangered whales, a veterinarian and marine scientist shows we can all share in the salvation of these imperiled animals.

The image most of us have of whalers includes harpoons and intentional trauma. Yet eating commercially caught seafood leads to whales’ entanglement and slow death in rope and nets, and the global shipping routes that bring us readily available goods often lead to death by collision. We—all of us—are whalers, marine scientist and veterinarian Michael J. Moore contends. But we do not have to be.

Drawing on over forty years of fieldwork with humpback, pilot, fin, and, in particular, North Atlantic right whales—a species whose population has declined more than 20 percent since 2017—Moore takes us with him as he performs whale necropsies on animals stranded on beaches, in his independent research alongside whalers using explosive harpoons, and as he tracks injured whales to deliver sedatives. The whales’ plight is a complex, confounding, and disturbing one. We learn of existing but poorly enforced conservation laws and of perennial (and often failed) efforts to balance the push for fisheries profit versus the protection of endangered species caught by accident.

But despite these challenges, Moore’s tale is an optimistic one. He shows us how technologies for ropeless fishing and the acoustic tracking of whale migrations make a dramatic difference. And he looks ahead with hope as our growing understanding of these extraordinary creatures fuels an ever-stronger drive for change.

For more information on Moore’s book and research, please visit his webpage at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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front cover of Whale
Whale
Joe Roman
Reaktion Books, 2005
One hundred years ago, a beached whale would have been greeted by a mob wielding flensing knives; today, people bring harnesses and boats to help it return to the sea. The whale is one of the most awe-inspiring and intelligent animals in nature, sharing a complex relationship with humans that has radically evolved over the centuries. Joe Roman offers in Whale a fascinating and in-depth look at the cultural and natural history of these majestic aquatic mammals.

From the Biblical prophet Jonah to Moby-Dick to recent discoveries of cetacean songs and culture, Roman examines the whale's role in history, art, literature, commerce, and science. Whale features vibrant illustrations, ranging from Stone Age carvings to full-color underwater photographs, which vividly bring to life the rich symbolic meanings surrounding the whale. Roman also examines the ecological and evolutionary history of the whale as well as contemporary issues of conservation. Whale is an engaging volume that will appeal to all those interested in the important role that these kings of the ocean have played in human culture.
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front cover of The Whale and His Captors; or, The Whaleman's Adventures
The Whale and His Captors; or, The Whaleman's Adventures
Henry T. Cheever
University Press of New England, 2018
The Whale and His Captors is an important firsthand account of the golden age of American whaling, chronicling both its lore and science as practiced from the inception of the fishery to the mid-1800s. Late in the composition of Moby-Dick, Herman Melville found inspiration in Cheever and his writings that would provide the final flourishes for one of America’s classic novels. After exhausting other whaling sources—Beale, Scoresby, Bennett, and Browne—Melville turned to Cheever for chapter titles and organization as well as passages that helped shape, define, and elucidate his great work. This is the first scholarly edition of The Whale and His Captors, accompanied by an introduction and apparatus that clearly elucidates Cheever’s treatise on whaling and demonstrates how his writings contributed both to the course of American literature and to our burgeoning understanding of literature’s engagement with the natural world.
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Whale Aria
Rajiv Mohabir
Four Way Books
“For seasons I was faceless // trying to swallow constellations, / to roll a star-map on my tongue,” recounts Rajiv Mohabir’s speaker in “Boy with Baleen for Teeth.” As formally visionary and acoustically attuned as ever, Mohabir has composed an interspecies opera in Whale Aria. This collection examines the humpback whale as a zoomorphic analog of the queer, brown, migratory speaker breaching these pages; just as a person navigates postcolonial queerness across geopolitical boundaries, traveling from India to Guyana to London to New York to Honolulu, these singular cetaceans wander through disparate waters. Undersea, whales call to one another through their marine music, and, using the documented structure of humpback vocalizations, Mohabir translates the syntax of their songs into poetry. In our search for meaning, in our call and response, kinship resonates; “the echo is amniotic.” “Once you immerse yourself in unending strains / the tones will haunt you: // ghosts spouting sohars you’ve called / since childhood.” Fluid and inexorable as the ocean, Whale Aria articulates the confluence of ecological fate and human history. In “Why Whales Are Back in New York City,” Mohabir notes the coincidence of current events: humpback migration returns to Queens for the first time in a century while the state expedites deportations of undocumented people in the same burrough. The language shared by human and marine creatures in these poems, however, promise that the tides will turn. “Our songs will pierce the dark / fathoms,” Mohabir underscores the eternity of water. “Behold the miracle: // what was once lost / now leaps before you.” 
 
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front cover of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises
Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises
A Natural History and Species Guide
Edited by Annalisa Berta
University of Chicago Press, 2015
The eighty-nine cetacean species that swim our seas and rivers are as diverse as they are intelligent and elusive, from the hundred-foot-long, two-hundred-ton blue whale to the lesser-known tucuxi, ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, and diminutive, critically endangered vaquita. The huge distances these highly migratory creatures cover and the depths they dive mean we catch only the merest glimpses of their lives as they break the surface of the water. But thanks to the marriage of science and technology, we are now beginning to understand their anatomy, complex social structures, extraordinary communication abilities, and behavioral patterns. In this beautifully illustrated guide, renowned marine mammalogist Annalisa Berta draws on the contributions of a pod of fellow whale biologists to present the most comprehensive, authoritative overview ever published of these remarkable aquatic mammals.

Opening with an accessible rundown of cetacean biology—including the most recent science on feeding, mating, and communication—Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises then presents species-specific natural history on a range of topics, from anatomy and diet to distribution and conservation status. Each entry also includes original drawings of the species and its key identifiers, such as fin shape and color, tooth shape, and characteristic markings as they would appear both above and below water—a feature unique to this book.

Figures of myth and—as the debate over hunting rages on—figures of conflict since long before the days of Moby-Dick, whales, dolphins, and porpoises are also ecologically important and, in many cases, threatened. Written for general enthusiasts, emergent cetacean fans, and biologists alike, this stunning, urgently needed book will serve as the definitive guide for years to come.
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Whales, They Give Themselves
Conversations with Harry Brower, Sr.
Karen Brewster
University of Alaska Press, 2004
The Whales, They Give Themselves is an intimate life history of Harry Brower, Sr. (1924-1992), an Inupiaq whaling captain, artisan, and community leader from Barrow, Alaska. In a life that spanned the profound cultural and economic changes of the twentieth century, Brower's vast knowledge of the natural world made him an essential contributor to the Native and scientific communities of the North. His desire to share his insights with future generations resulted in a series of conversations with friend and oral historian Karen Brewster, who weaves Harry's stories with cultural and historical background into this innovative and collaborative oral biography.

Brower was deeply committed to Native culture, and his life history is a moving expression of the Inupiaq way of life. He was also influential in traditionally non-Native arenas in which Native and non-Native values sometimes collided. Acting as a mediator between Inupiaq whalers and non-Native scientists, Brower communicated a vast understanding of bowhead whales and whaling that became the basis for a scientific research program and helped protect Inupiaq subsistence whaling. He was a central architect of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation boundaries, and served for over twenty years as a consultant to scientists at the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory. Brower's role in this collaborative research serves as one of the earliest and best examples of how scientists and Native experts can work together to advance knowledge. Such approaches are now promoted by researchers around the world.

The Whales, They Give Themselves not only conveys Brower's life story, but also is a cross-cultural journey of wisdom and friendship. Whereas academic oral historians once strove to erase the presence of the interviewer in the name of objectivity, Brewster recognizes the influence her specific relationship with Brower had on the way he narrated his life. This volume is a major contribution to our understanding of northern peoples, and a testament to the immense value of collaborative oral history.
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The Whaling Season
An Inside Account Of The Struggle To Stop Commercial Whaling
Kieran Mulvaney
Island Press, 2003

Despite a decades-long international moratorium on commercial whaling, one fleet has continued to hunt and kill whales in the waters surrounding Antarctica. Refusing to let this defiance go unchallenged, the environmental organization Greenpeace began dispatching expeditions to the region in an effort to intercept the whalers and use nonviolent means to stop their lethal practice.

Over the past decade, Kieran Mulvaney led four such expeditions as a campaigner and coordinator. In The Whaling Season, he recounts those voyages in all their drama, disappointments, strain, and elation, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the hazards and triumphs of life as an environmental activist on the high seas. The author also explores the larger struggles underlying the expeditions, drawing on the history of commercial whaling and Antarctic exploration, the development of Greenpeace, and broader scientific and political efforts to conserve marine life. He presents a rich portrait of the current struggles and makes an impassioned plea for protection of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures.

For armchair adventurers, polar enthusiasts, and anyone concerned about marine conservation and continued hunting of the world’s whales, The Whaling Season is an engrossing and informative tale of adventure set in one of the Earth’s last great wilderness areas.


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