Troubled Waters:
The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins

Sarah Lazarus

CSIRO Publishing 2006
A book review by Danny Yee © 2010
An opening chapter gives a brief account of whale and dolphin evolution and a feel for their unique anatomical adaptations, but Troubled Waters is primarily a history of their interactions with humans. Some additional biology is presented as this progresses, with background on individual species provided when they become prominent.

There are three chapters on whaling, the first covering the early period, the second the period of mechanisation and industrial scale whaling, and the third the modern era of the International Whaling Commission and the rise of conservation concerns.

Two chapters address other threats to dolphins and whales from humans: accidental death or injury from fishing, noise pollution, climate change, and pollution. And two chapters cover less negative interactions: the controversy over keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, debates over cetacean intelligence, the rise of whale-watching and swimming with dolphins, and the difficulties involved in establishing marine sanctuaries.

Troubled Waters is a simple and straightforward overview. But it offers a balanced perspective on an often controversial topic, eschewing drama or hyperbole and allowing the natural fascination of the material to shine through. I recommend it to anyone who wants a short, accessible history of human-cetacean relations.

March 2010

External links:
- buy from or
- share this review on Facebook or Twitter
Related reviews:
- books about conservation + the environment
- more popular science
- more animals + zoology
- books published by CSIRO Publishing
%T Troubled Waters
%S The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins
%A Lazarus, Sarah
%I CSIRO Publishing
%D 2006
%O hardcover, index
%G ISBN 0643093893
%P 210pp