Followers

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Book Review - Europe's Sea Mammals - Princeton University Press

     This book is published at a very timely moment in the history of sea mammals in European waters, a time when every one of them is threatened to one degree or another.




     Let us earnestly hope that what is presented as a first rate field guide, replete with a wide range of photographs of the rich and varied marine life of the region, is not soon to be a requiem of extinct species.
     The work starts with a standard "How to use this guide" section and answers the fundamental question "What is a sea mammal?"



     It moves on to "Threats to sea mammals in the 21st century" and it is to this section that I will return.



     There is a very helpful discussion about watching Europe's sea mammals, with tips on where, when and how to look, with comments on behavioural characters that assist in identification. This is the "meat and potatoes" section for an avid observer, and is especially helpful when standing on the heaving deck of a small boat trying to clinch the identification of a mammal that appears and disappears with the roiling waves.



     All of these sections are written in readable style with information succinctly presented, and valuable for novice and seasoned marine mammalogist alike.
     There follows a detailed account of each mammal to be found in the area accompanied by a series of pictures depicting morphology, behaviour and habitat. Many of the photographs are remarkable in their clarity, and their depiction of mammals that often give but a fleeting glimpse before diving beneath the surface of the water.




     There then follows important coverage of relevant legislation for the protection of sea mammals.



     Some of these conventions are well known to all of us, and we may perhaps be lulled into a false sense of belief that all is well and that rules are respected and enforced. But such is often not the case, and frequently laws are flouted and enforcement is sporadic, unevenly applied, or ignored completely.
     The greatest threat of all to marine mammals, however, is pollution of our oceans. It is ongoing, pervasive, massive and seemingly out of control. The volume of plastic and PCBs being annually added to an already over-burdened ecosystem is staggering. Glumly, I have to state that there seems to be no end in sight to this problem, and the very survival of many of the wonderful creatures covered in this book is in serious jeopardy.
     I applaud Princeton University Press' decision to publish this important volume at a time when the very life forms it depicts are imperilled. It is a significant reminder that the oceans are full of exquisite creatures, but despite their depth and vastness are no more immune from threats than are terrestrial ecosystems. 
     Buy an extra copy and send it to your Member of Parliament, Congressman or Deputy, to your Prime Minister or to your President. The time for action is now! 

Europe's Sea Mammals Including the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde: A field guide to whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals.
Robert Still, Hugh Harrop, Tim Stenton, and Luis Dias
Paperback - $24.95 - 9780691182162 - 208 pages - 5 7/8 x 8 1/4
Publication date: 25 June 2019

48 comments:

  1. İyi kitap . Ne yazık ki küresel ısınma etkileri çok kötü oluyor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It looks like a very important book, David.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With great significance for the marine life you have off your coasts, Marit.

      Delete
  3. Hello David, this seems indeed a book of great interest. Hope that the people on high places and directors of factories, producers of plastics and a great part of hunam species who buys all the stuff starts acting responsible but I am afraid they will point the finger on others and not to themselves to help solve the consuming sickness of these dam products.
    I fear the coming years with more and more polution. In this case I wish there was a God who at last will make an end to this and punnish the ill doers.
    Regards,
    Roos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning Dear Roos: I fear that if we rely on the conscience of our fellow citizens then we can kiss goodbye to the planet. An outright ban is the only thing that is going to work.

      Delete
  4. Looks a lovely book of knowledge.
    Saw photos the other day on the internet of all this plastic from a sea creature. It seems some countries are not doing a 'thing' to rid themselves of plastic and other stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is also very much an individual responsibility, Margaret. Stop using single use plastic. Tell the restaurant owner not to use plastic straws, refuse to buy drinks in disposable cups, take your own container to the supermarket, complain about excessive packaging, support stores that are environmentally responsible and refuse to shop at the others. Much can be done by each individual.

      Delete
  5. Den boken skulle jag vilja läsa om jag nu klarar av det. Jag blir så känslomässigt berörd av allt elände som drabbar vår underbara natur, jag blir också frustrerad eftersom jag känner mig så hjälplös och vet inte vad jag skall göra med all kunskap.
    Det är nu inte bara vår natur som drabbas av all djävla plast som vi vräker ut, idag läste jag om en undersökning som visade att vi människor får i oss mikroplaster motsvarande ett kreditkorts storlek, varje dag. Vi är ju sist i näringskedjan så självklart drabbar det även oss. När individen börjar begripa det, kanske är man då beredd att ta sitt ansvar.

    En god nyhet idag David. Canada har beslutat om förbud för att hålla delfiner och valar i fångenskap! De som finns får leva sina liv tills de avlider men inga nya djur skall i fortsättningen tvingas plågas för att vi människor skall få en stunds underhållning.

    Här en länk från en svenska natursida som jag läser varje dag:
    https://www.natursidan.se/nyheter/kanada-infor-forbud-mot-delfiner-och-valar-i-fangenskap/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very glad that my country has decided to ban whales and dolphins in captivity. Thanks for the link, Gunilla.

      Delete
  6. Tiene que ser un libro verdaderamente interesante en todos los aspectos amigo David y sobre todo en uno y el principal en el basurero que se han convertido todos los océanos. Tenemos que ser nosotros individualmente los que nos neguemos a toda clase de plásticos y no compremos absolutamente nada que vaya envuelto o contenga plástico, mientras no sea el ser humano independiente el que rechace todos esos productos el problema persistirá y quizás cuando se tomen medidas sea ya tarde.
    Un fuerte y caluroso abrazo compadre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right, Juan, as individuals we can make a difference.

      Delete
  7. Es una de las guías de mi biblioteca, es una gran obra que recomiendo. David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello, great review and book. The use of plastics and pollution has gotten out of hand. Our government wants to make it worse, taking us backwards in time. I wish more people were aware of the environment. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your day!

    ReplyDelete
  9. A wonderful book and review. The sea creatures need all the help they can get before humans totally kill them off.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This book sounds like a wonderful read. Sea mammals are so beautiful. I love your idea of sending this book to politicians. It is so important for the maritime laws to be enforced.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for pointing this book out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you.
    I do hope this beautiful and informative work reaches people who are prepared to change - and to lobby for changes to be enforced. I wish the enforcement wasn't necessary, but sadly it is. World wide. Baby steps are being taken, strides are needed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. David you always find exceptional books and give them wonderful and detailed reviews This book is very important, it reminds us that we have to be very concerned about our environment.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good book, I would love that.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Definitely one on my to buy list, it looks like a very worthwhile buy!

    ReplyDelete
  16. A book made in quality, with correct details.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Se ve muy interesante el libro. Feliz tarde.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi David - what a great resource for us all - from a reputable research publisher. We are definitely going to find our lives blighted in so many ways. While we need to realise our fish stocks are definitely at risk ... as we mostly can't see what we're doing to the oceans. We have Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall - who's taken a stand on a number of issues over the years and uses his voice effectively ... it's getting us all to understand what's going on - not just gloss over and continue as we were.

    I don't think I can start ... as I'll never stop ... so good to see these excellent publications - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  19. Although I don't see as much of the marine environment as I would like to, David, I think that this book will be added to my 'wanted' list. I always thrill to see these wonderful creatures and hope that we can all pull together to salvage their continued existence.

    Lindsay and I are trying hard to cut down on the use of plastics, but it is not easy in our area as we do not have sufficient alternatives to be able to totally abandon the plastic-addicted supermarkets. Some supermarkets are offering loose foods but charge 50% more for them than plastic pre-packaged alternatives! Our latest move, just today, was to arrange a daily delivery to the house of milk in reusable glass bottles.

    With love to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know it is hard to get away from plastic altogether, but if we all do what we can (as you and Lindsay are obviously doing) and can reduce, 20, 30, 40% it is significant. And perhaps governments will finally heed the will of the people and ban single use plastics altogether. In Canada that is supposed to happen in two years, but that presupposes the Liberals win the general election coming up in October.

      Delete
  20. This really looks interesting, I think that I would enjoy it although I seldom see the sea! Have a good weekend, it is nearly here, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  21. Beautiful and interesting book .. Regards

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for your well written introduction.... make me feel exciting...

    Have a wonderful weekend

    ReplyDelete
  23. this looks like a good book for those interested. here at the jersey shore, we see a lot of pools of dolphins swimming fairly close to the shoreline. i have always been thrilled with the sight of them. we also see a lot of hump back whales, that breach beautifully and often. they have whale watching cruises often in my area, i get sea sick and can not go but would love to!!! we also get the occasional sea lion/seal up on the beach and turtles too. we have a local aquarium that takes them in if they are injured, they are returned to the ocean if they can be healed. if not, they keep them in the aquarium. they have a great program there!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can wear patches behind the ear, Debbie, and they are very effective in combatting sea sickness. I forget the name of the active ingredient, but they are readily available in pharmacies.

      Delete
    2. thanks david, i have heard of all things that cancel out sea sickness and i really should try again. the one and only time i went was brutal and i will never forget how bad it was. i have so much fear, there is nothing you can do once you are out there and puking away. the hubs was in the front of the boat, i in the back, we were both doing the same thing. i want to do it again, i really do, but just the thought of it makes me wince!!!

      Delete
  24. Hello, it looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing your review. I also love to see the dolphins, they are playful. Thanks for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  25. It sounds like this book is useful for us, David. I hope it will be translated into Russian. Some time ago I saw a seal sailing into Neva river from Golf of Finland.
    I think plastic is enough dangerous of environment.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hola David, me parece muy apasionante la lectura de esta guía que nos presentas ya que no permite conocer y valorar a las distintas especies marinas que forman parte del ecosistema, ese que debemos de conservar y valorar entre todos.
    Un abrazo!

    ReplyDelete
  27. The authors are right to address the issue of man's calamitous effect upon the oceans and seas around Europe. Because so many European countries are landlocked the authors and the publisher have quite a task to raise awareness of sea mammals, especially so since most people rarely see and experience such creatures, even outside of Europe. It is one thing to write a popular field guide to easily observable creatures like birds but quite another to make an appealing one about sea creatures. I wish Princeton all the very best with this guide but regrettably the audience for it is very specialised.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It looks like it's packed with lots of good information! I'll put it on my wish list! Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's not only Europe's sea mammals but all of them that are imperiled by the reckless behavior of us humans. This is a very good post about a very serious danger to our oceans - and I have the feeling that so many people simply don't care and I also feel helpless in my rather small ways of avoiding plastics etc.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi David,
    A good documented book is very useful when you are looking for background information.
    Greetings, Kees

    ReplyDelete
  31. Kudos to you for bringing this important guide to our attention!
    We should do whatever it takes to save these mammals. However, I'm afraid we humans are going to get extinct long before the mammals in this guide. It's sad, very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Spot on David. Action needed now before it's all too late.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh my goodness! That certainly took much research and time to pull this together.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Horrific isn't I learned a lot lately about whales and dolphins as I am mentoring a young girl who wants to become a marine biologist. The Maui and Hector dolphins here are nearly extinct as well as in addition to pollution there is a problem with netting and trawls. I also heard that global warming affects the food of mammals a lot. For example there is a lot of krill living under the Antarctic ice so when that melts an important food source disappears and on and on it goes

    ReplyDelete
  35. Very sad to see how pollution has affected the livelihood of the mammals and other animals.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The state of our nation's seas deeply disturbs me. This does sound like an important and informative book for any number of reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This does look a very good book.
    Pollution, plastics we need to do more!

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete