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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BOOK: New Book on North Atlantic Right Whales


I am pleased to announce the availability of a new book on the history of North Atlantic right whales. It spans their evolutionary origin, through 1000+ years of whaling history, up to present day efforts to restore their depleted numbers. The chapters on evolution propose a new theory on the development of right whale foraging strategies and suggest that an inverted feeding posture is more important than currently recognized. As the first large whale hunted commercially, the book also reviews the origin of whaling and its conversion from a subsistence pursuit to a profit-motivated industry based on the exploitation of North Atlantic right whales. Separate chapters describe whaling for the species off Europe in the medieval age, in eastern Canada during the 16th century, in the sub-Arctic during the Spitsbergen whaling era in the 17th century, and along shores of North America off Long Island, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Cape May, and North Carolina's Outer Banks from Colonial times up to the 20th century. Included are new assessments of right whale catch levels by Basque and Colonial whalers, their effect on right whale abundance, and pre-exploitation population size. North Atlantic right whales are now one of the most endangered mammals on land or in the sea. The latter half of the book recounts the development of conservation efforts to prevent their extinction. Separate chapters describe the formation of a dedicated recovery program for North Atlantic right whale, successful efforts to minimize deaths caused by ship strikes, and still unresolved work to reduce entanglement in fishing gear.

This book is a valuable reference for all scientists and managers concerned about right whale recovery and the management of marine species. It features an extensive bibliography of historical and current literature on the species and is well illustrated with historical prints, photographs, and maps, including color plates. For students contemplating careers in marine science or marine conservation, the thorough description of conservation efforts and how they evolved offers unique insights into the work required by scientists, resource managers, conservation groups, and marine industries to conserve imperiled marine species.

"North Atlantic Right Whales: from Hunted Leviathan to Conservation Icon" by David W. Laist.  Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD.  432 p., 82 illustrations, 9 color plates, 1 Appendix.
Available from Johns Hopkins University Press (https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/north-atlantic-right-whales) and Amazon.

David W. Laist

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