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190 × 135 × 15 mm
240 pages
106 illustrations, 37 in colour
01 Jun 2005

Whale Joe Roman

Whales are the largest animals ever to have lived on the earth: the longest recorded was over 33 metres long, the heaviest more than 171,000 kgs; a large Blue Whale's tongue alone can weigh more than an elephant. Whales can stay underwater for more than an hour, some speculate that they can live for up to 200 years, and they are among the most intelligent animals known to humanity.

Whale recounts the evolutionary and ecological background, as well as the cultural history, of these extraordinary mammals, long persecuted and now celebrated throughout the world. From the tales of Jonah and Brendan the Navigator to Moby Dick and recent discoveries of cetacean songs and culture, Joe Roman looks at the role of the whale in human history, mythology, art, literature, commerce and science. Illustrated with Stone Age carvings, medieval broadsheets and colour underwater photographs, Whale shows how our perception of these animals has changed over the centuries: a hundred years ago, a stranded whale was usually greeted with flensing knives; now people bring boats and harnesses to return a wayward creature to the sea.

Written by an author with vast experience of the subject, Whale will appeal to all those interested in whales and the conservation of the oceans, as well as anyone studying cultural history and the natural sciences.

‘the latest in Reaktion Books magnificent Animal series. The book provides a complete overview of the role that whales have played in history, the human imagination and the oceans themselves . . . Whale is a superb chronicle of the relationship between man and beast over the centuries. A must-buy’ — Magazine of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

‘well-written, fascinating . . . this reader was much satisfied by this tasty book . . . It certainly belongs in museum bookshops from New Bedford, through Sandefjord, to Grytviken. It could be a more substantive alternative to the cetological trinkets and tee shirts purveyed to modern day whale-watchers as they disembark from their brief encounters with his subjects. If such punters then read it, they might gain a respect and understanding of the variety of attitudes that different nationalities and generations have had towards large whales since they and we first interacted.’ — Aquatic Mammals Journal

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Joe Roman is a marine biologist based in Vermont, USA. He has conducted much research and written widely in the field of biology and cetacean studies.

1.  First Surfacing
2.  The Invention of Whaling
3.  The Royal Fish
4.  Raising Whales
5.  A Diving Mammal
6.  Oil and Bone
7.  Floating Factories
8.  Exhaustion and Failure
9.  Save the Whales
10.  Eating the Whale
11.  Flukes
Appendix:  The Greenland Whale Fishery
Photo Acknowledgements