The Presence of Whales:
Contemporary Writings on the Whale

Frank Stewart (editor)

Alaska Northwest Books 1995
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005
The twenty pieces collected in The Presence of Whales are by a mix of scientists and nature writers. They offer some science and plenty of descriptive information about whales, but their common theme is human interactions with whales, social and historical as well as personal.

There is little repetition across the collection. It helps here that, rather than dealing with generic "whales", individual pieces focus on different species: orcas, right whales, grey whales, belugas, narwhals, humpbacks, and so forth. The topics covered include a visit to a whale research station in Patagonia, a fictionalised "week in the life of" an orca pod, the grey whale Gigi and the orca Lolita in captivity, the stranding of forty sperm whales in Oregon in 1979 and the response of the thousands of people who came to see them, narwhals and stories about their tusks, the importance of drift whales and along-shore whaling for the early North American colonists, the growth of whale watching, and much more. Few of the pieces focus directly on conservation issues, though conservation themes run through most of them.

Frank Stewart has collected some excellent pieces in The Presence of Whales — well written, varied, and with plenty of substance — and anyone curious about whales should enjoy it.

December 2005

External links:
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Related reviews:
- Karen Pryor - Dolphin Societies: Discoveries and Puzzles
- more travel
- more animals + zoology
%T The Presence of Whales
%S Contemporary Writings on the Whale
%E Stewart, Frank
%I Alaska Northwest Books
%D 1995
%O paperback, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0882404644
%P 320pp