Vous voulez voir cette page en français ? Cliquez ici.


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
or
Amazon Prime Free Trial required. Sign up when you check out. Learn More
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Tell the Publisher!
I'd like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Wild Blue: A Natural History of the World's Largest Animal [Paperback]

Dan Bortolotti
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
List Price: CDN$ 26.95
Price: CDN$ 21.56 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
You Save: CDN$ 5.39 (20%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca. Gift-wrap available.
Want it delivered Tuesday, October 28? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover, Bargain Price --  
Paperback CDN $21.56  
Join Amazon Student in Canada


Book Description

Feb. 7 2009

The blue whale is the largest creature that has ever lived—far heavier than even the most burly dinosaur. A big female can outweigh every player in the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball combined. Its mouth can gulp more than 50,000 litres of seawater. A newborn can be seven metres long and gain 18,000 kilograms in four months—about four kilos per hour. But the largest of all animals is also one of the least understood.

A hundred years ago, whalers learned just enough to find them, chase them down and blast them with grenade-tipped harpoons. Whalers in the Antarctic killed some 330,000 blues in just 60 years—less than the lifespan of an individual whale. The most majestic animals in the ocean were almost wiped out so humans could render them into margarine and soap. When the killing stopped in the late 1960s, there were so few blue whales left that most people believed extinction was a certainty. In the years that followed, however, humanity’s relationship with the species changed completely.

“Perhaps more than any single animal,” writes one conservationist, “the blue whale stimulated the resurgence of public interest in ecology.” Now, four decades later, scientists have learned an enormous amount about these whales. They can identify individuals through photographs and biopsies. They attach instruments to the whales’ bodies to study behviour that was once a complete mystery: how they dive, how they feed and where they migrate.

Underwater microphones listen in on the whales’ haunting, low-frequency calls, the most powerful sounds made by any animal. Researchers have answered many questions, but the blue whale does not give up its secrets easily. Equal parts history and science, Wild Blue is the first comprehensive portrait of the blue whale—a journey into the world of an animal that went to hell and is slowly making its way back.


Product Details


Product Description

Quill & Quire

Before human greed and exploitation took its toll, the ocean was home to more than 300,000 blue whales. After half a century of horrific slaughter, and in the face of an indifferent public that doesn’t want to know where its soap and pet food comes from, the largest creature on earth has approached extinction. Today, only a few thousand remain. In Wild Blue, Dan Bortolotti tells the whales’ story with lucidity and depth. While some may find the book’s style dry, the content more than compensates for this. The author has extensively interviewed leading whale biologists and accompanied several on their field trips, not even allowing seasickness to dissuade him. His research uncovered folklore as ancient as the story of the blue whale that carried Indonesians on its back to their homeland. He has also unearthed details about the whale’s evolution from a wolflike creature 50 million years ago to what he calls its “missing link,” an amphibian described as a “furry crocodile,” which was discovered in Pakistan in 1994. By using analogies the layperson can understand, Bortolotti makes statistics like the mammal’s immense weight easily comprehensible. He notes, for example, that a bouncing baby blue grows at the rate of four kilos an hour, and that a blue whale’s tongue can cover up to 64 square feet of a whaling ship’s deck space. Bortolotti took three years to research and write the book, and considering the wealth of information it contains, you may be surprised it didn’t take him longer.

Review

Balancing comfortably on the cusp between popular and scientifically detailed narrative, Bortolotti (Exploring Saturn, 2003) summarizes our current knowledge concerning the blue whale. He engages readers with a smooth writing style and a storyteller’s easeful tempo, and his subject has an obvious wow factor. The blue whale is the largest, longest, heaviest and loudest animal inhabiting earth, capable of reaching 100 feet in length and 200 tons in Antarctic waters. Its story is tragic. Treated with mythopoetic awe by Pliny and in The Arabian Nights, blue whales would later be reduced to cakes of soap and bars of margarine. In the 20th century, hunters managed to kill 999 out of every 1,000 of the creatures off Antarctica.

 “No human industry followed a more reckless, myopic pattern than whaling,” writes Bortolotti. The color and sting are good for his story, but the author is aiming for something more encyclopedic and so must make extended forays into the more nebulous world of scientific theories and the hard practice that structures those theories. Our understanding of the blue whale is neither broad nor deep. How old do they get? Do they have breeding and birthing grounds? How do they generate their spectacular sounds? How can they be measured? How many are there? To all such questions Bortolotti must reply, “no one knows for certain.” Which is not to say that plenty of researchers, a handful of whom receive cogent portraits here, are not hard at work developing means and recording data, though the whales’ natural attributes make study difficult. (They are fast, sink when dead and mostly live hundreds of miles offshore.)

There is some evidence that the blue whale is increasing its numbers. Still, the author notes, “each of the world’s blue whale populations faces a different suite of potential threats”—including continued hunting. A lively, thorough and judicious survey of the species Melville described as “uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous.”

Wild Blue is not only about the awesome capabilities of this magnificent creature, it is also an important history of animal killing for profit and a reflection on the future of wild animals in a world dominated by man.

With prodigious research and lucid-- sometimes eloquent-- writing, Bortolotti tells three great stories in this book. First is the tragedy of how human greed and technological ingenuity came close to annihilating our planet's largest animal, turning hundreds of thousands of these majestic creatures into margarine, soap, pet food, fertilizer, and other industrial commodities. Second is an engaging mystery story, in which the author leads us deep into the living research of the modern scientific detectives who are attempting to understand these beings that only a few people can ever hope to glimpse. Finally is the coda, that shows us the interconnections between the future of the blue whale and our own species' roles on the blue planet.

Most whale books turn into sagas. It's the nature of the beast. One could hardly expect anything lass from a book on the great blue whale. Don Bortolotti turns his considerable journalistic skills to chronicling the blue whale saga-- the animal hunted to near extinction and studied now with great passion by teams of researchers in the few pockets around the world where blues still roam. Spellbinding superlatives abound. Written with authority, insight, and compassion, Wild Blue reveals for the first time the big picture on the blue whale story.

Dan Bortolotti tells the whales' story with lucidity and depth.

Wild Blue is worthy of its mighty subject. With an easy to read style, Bortolotti gives us a fascinating account of the history as well as the enduring mysteries of one of the world's most amazing creatures.

Every whale species should be lucky enough to have a chronicler such as Bortolotti... He has the enviable knack for translating the jargon of biologists and complex scientific ideas into not just plain English, but enjoyable English. He is especially good at finding metaphors to make comprehensible what is otherwise not.

Wild Blue is a thoughtful and engaging journey- one that ambitiously sets out to document everything there is to know about the blue whale. With no shortage of scope, Bortolotti does manage to give the subject the depth it warrants, and does so with cohesion.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
I've been reading a lot about dinosaurs recently, so when I saw this book I thought I'd check it out. Because as big as the dinosaurs got, no animal, living or extinct, is believed to have been bigger than the blue whale. I was somewhat surprised then to read that we actually know very little about the largest animal that has ever lived? How big do they get? We don't know. On average, 90 feet for big females (females are bigger than males). But the antarctic variety can grow to 100 feet or more. That's simply enormous. But just their length doesn't give a picture of quite how big they are. Take every player in the NHL and put them on a scale. Then add every MLB baseball player. Average 205 pounds, with roughly one thousand, five hundred men (!!!!) and you've balanced the scale with ONE grown female blue whale!!! That's a size that just defies common understanding.

Yet as the first half of this book discusses, that very size is what almost doomed the species thanks to human greed. For centuries blue whales were too big to kill and/or too big to haul on boats as they tend to sink when dead (rather than float like some whale species). But at the turn of the twentieth century these problems were solved and soon thousands or tens of thousands of these magnificent giants were being slaughtered. It's estimated that 90% of them, 99% of the huge antarctic variety, were killed by whalers. It's a necessary component to understanding blue whales, in part historic, in part informative (because some of the dead whales were studied), but this history of glutinous slaughter was hard to read about.

Fortunately, the second half of the book dwells almost exclusively on what we know about them.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb contribution to natural history Jan. 27 2009
By Matthew A. Bille - Published on Amazon.com
Wild Blue is simply a great book in every way. It introduces us to a mammal we know surprisingly little about, despite said mammal's status as the largest creature ever to live on Earth. The author is outstanding at explaining cetacean biology, scientific principles, technology, and so on without ever losing his sense of wonder. He also introduces us to the key figures in blue whale research and lets us know what motivates them.
Wild Blue is scientifically exacting yet always accessible to the nonspecialist reader like myself. That's a very difficult tightrope for any author to walk, and Bortolotti never loses his balance. This will stand for a long time as the definitive work on its subject.

Matt Bille
author, Shadows of Existence: Discoveries and Speculations in Zoology (Hancock, 2006)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wild Blue: A Natural History of the Whale Industry and the Animal Oct. 22 2010
By Jubal Nova - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wild Blue: A Natural History of the Whale Industry and the Animal

Very informative. The first 160 pages or so are a whole lot about the Whale Industry History,
which is miserable, and somewhat cumbersome in place. Still very relevant though as so much of our
early information about Cetaceans was from the Whaling Industry.
The book does go on detail so much of what we now know about these intelligent creatures, largely
through the eyes of several important scientists and researchers who have contributed so much to our understanding.
Not a detailed Biology text of the animal by any means; but an eye-opener on how little we know about a species we have driven to the brink of extinction. Wild Blue was a good and informative read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, Yet All-Encompassing June 30 2012
By LK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am so impressed with Mr. Bortolotti's research, both in the history of this magnificent beast, and the science behind knowing it. He sought out what appears to be everyone of any significance in blue whale research and spends time learning about their specialties, methods, and results. He also shows how these compliment the work of others. This takes time and patience, and is appreciated. I also appreciate his balanced perspective, never coming across as an alarmist, but not uncorking the champagne to celebrate population increases either (due, in part, to political reasons, like Japan itching at the bit to begin a full-fledged whaling program again). The chapters on the Whaling Industry are truly heartbreaking-- I made myself read through that tragic part of the great blue's history in one sitting, so that when I returned to the book, I would start a new day on a better note. And there are many wonderful studies that cheer one's soul after that. The understanding of these mysterious creatures is painstakingly slow business, but so worth it. Thank you, Mr. Bortolotti, for taking the time to write a thorough, accurate book, and writing in such a way that not only makes hard science comprehensible, but thoroughly engrossing as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Balanced, Just Right Oct. 25 2011
By A. D. hodgson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I thought this book struck a very good balance of being a scientific and intelligent read and simply being appealing and enjoyable. There is just about the perfect amount of information on the subject without delving too deep into particulars only experts would find exciting. I was never bored, but also found myself quite able to put the book down. The chapters flow logically, introduce you to diverse researchers, trace the history of whaling, and are all about 20 pages. Each one makes for a good quick sitting. The author only occasionally makes editorials, one of which I will note: his annoyance towards the UN for not stopping the USSR from over-harvesting whales in general, including blues during the 60s and 70s- I mean, the whole world was just trying not to fall into a nuclear holocaust. And the Soviets were an aggressive, militant bully superpower. What was the UN supposed to do exactly? Still, it isn't exactly a diatribe. Well, I recommend it. A great place to start, and for most people, stop, in learning about blue whales, and whaling. Might make you sad or angry, but I also liked that the overall tone of the book is one of hope that these animals will survive and recover.
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book on such a fascinating creature Sept. 11 2014
By KDeRoo - Published on Amazon.com
I absolutely loved this book. I would've finished it a lot quicker had I not been taking so many notes on it (nearly thirty pages). Bortolotti covers a range of topics on the species, including its incredible size, anatomy, feeding tactics, movements and migration, behavior (including fast-paced "rumbas"), vocalizations, taxonomic and whaling history, and their subsequent (partial) recovery. He visits experts in the field (John Calambokidis and Richard Sears) and interviews old whalers who were among the last to commercially exploit the species (legally) in the 1960s. He has a very easy-going writing style yet manages to be very informative. It also includes a number of color plates, including a photo of a rare white blue whale that has been repeatedly seen off California and Baja. A truly great book on such a fascinating creature.
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Look for similar items by category


Feedback