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Andy Horton spends a year examining the biology and behaviour of the rock pool fish and other marine life.

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Cetacean Book Reviews

Whales & Dolphins 
of the European Atlantic
The Bay of Biscay, English Channel, Celtic Sea and coastal SW Ireland
by Dylan Walker and Graeme Cresswell
with the illustrations by Robert Still
WILDGuides 2008
£ 12.00 (Includes Standard UK P&P)
ISBN:  978-1-903657-31-7

This is the second edition of this comprehensive guide to the identification of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) in the European Atlantic. Until very recently, most researchers and whale-watchers were unaware of the great variety of cetaceans that can be seen so close to the shores of western Europe. Indeed, it is only during the last decade, when detailed cetacean surveys have been carried out in earnest, that we have discovered how important this area is for cetacean biodiversity.

This field guide describes all of the 31 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise that have occurred in the European Atlantic. 

Whales & Dolphins 
of Great Britain
by Dylan Walker and Alex Wilson
CETACEA Publishing 2007
ISBN-10: 0-9556144-0-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-9556144-0-8

If you would like to see whales and dolphins in British waters, Whales and Dolphins of Great Britain is the book for you! A comprehensive and easy-to-use field guide to all of the regularly seen species, it also shows you how, where, and when to go and see these spectacular marine mammals, with 38 boat operators and 16 outstanding land-based viewpoints listed. The text is packed with information on how to book a trip; including the species that are likely to be seen, how to get there, and what photographic opportunities are available. If you love whales and dolphins and enjoy seeing the British countryside, this book is a must – you never know when you might need it! 

Whales and Dolphins of Great Britain is the first in a series of regional whale and dolphin watching guides being published by Cetacea Publishing. 

CETACEA Publishing, Nook Farmhouse, Ashby Road, Shepshed, Loughborough, LE12 9BS. Telephone: 0845 388 3053. Fax: 0845 108 6386. 
E-Mail: Website designed by de Wilson-Wildman LLP 

21 August 2003

'Atlas of cetacean distribution in north-west European waters' 

The publication by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) of an atlas of their distribution in waters off north-western Europe.  It is based on the sightings made by hundreds of observers over the past 25 years.  The atlas is a first for these waters, and becomes the first globally to take full account of the variation between areas in the amount of searching that observers have carried out to gather the information.

Click on this text for the full information including ordering

Price £17.00 from the Natural History Book Service (, or phone +44 (0)1803 865913. 

June 2001
OCEAN Guides
Whales & Dolphins of the European Atlantic
The Bay of Biscay and the English Channel
by Graeme Cresswell & Dylan Walker
and Rob Still & Phil Coles (artwork)
and individual photographers
Edited by Andy Swash
Published by Wild Guides
ISBN 1-903657-00-8

This is the best and handiest small guide, and probably better than any of the larger guides for identifying the cetaceans at sea. 
                                Andy Horton

There are 14 colour plates which depict typical views of cetaceans at sea. They have been produced using the latest digital image technology and include images of some species never previously published. These photographs are the real advantage of the book. The images are so good and depict their appearance as seen by a viewer from a boat that should consideably help with the tricky business of identifying the whales and dolphins. 
The text covers the key identification features of each species, emphasising the differences between similar species and includes information on status, behaviour and distribution. Colour distribution maps accompany the text for each species.

The book costs £8.00 plus £1.00 post and packing in the UK. Copies of the book can be obtained from:

WildGuides (Click on the text for the address)

ORCA   Organisation Cetacea
Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society

          by Mark Carwardine, Erich Hoyt, R. Ewan Fordyce, Peter Gill 
          HarperCollins 1998 
          RRP £17.99 
          ISBN 0-00-220105
  • This book is the latest in the excellent new series by Collins on various subjects of the natural world. 
  • The amount of accurate information packed into its 288 pages is astounding and it is a very good book to read to get informed about whales, dolphins and porpoises throughout the world. Most, but not all, of the world's species are included in the identification guide that shows colour photographs of every featured species, which should be very helpful in the tricky job of identifying them. The Harbor Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, shows only the fins in a very small photograph, but most of photographs show the whole mammal, or in the case of the large whales a substantial proportion. 
  • The strong point of the book is the general information on the whales and dolphins and the undersea world in which they live, including conservation issues, high-tech. research (including DNA fingerprinting), the mystery of strandings, social behaviour, conservation issues, evolution and much more. There is a chapter by Eric Hoyt of where to go to see the big whales and a bibliography and list of organisations. 
  • Mark Carwardine is well known as an expert on cetaceans and is excellent standard of writing is maintained in this useful book. 

          by Erich Hoyt 
          Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society 1998 
          ISBN 1-901386-03-1
          This is the story of Atlantic whales by a serious science writer; an account of 
          whales in their natural environment with information about the oceans so that 
          the reader can appreciate the world in which the remnants of the whale 
          population still survive. There are 15 species of whales and a further 15 species 
          of dolphins and porpoises in the north Atlantic Ocean. 

          There is lots of interesting information in this 100 page glossy paperback and I 
          know from my experience from enquiries that this book will answer many of 
          the questions asked. The subject matter can be found in the index. 

          However, the account  reads more like a novel than a text book following the 
          whales on their annual migrations. Almost every page has some of the best 
          whales photographs I have seen in a book. After man has stopped the 
          wholesale extermination of whales, they are still threatened extensively by 
          pollution and discarded fishing gear, and throughout the book these issues are 
          explained in a way that promotes greater understanding rather than a scare 
          story. There are some vivid descriptions of the behaviour of particular animals; 
          one example worth looking at in the book shop is the second paragraph on page 
          46 beginning 

    "Tail flukes moving up and down, blood pumping furiously, an 80-foot-long female blue whale named June races into the gulf, hunger gnawing at her multichambered stomach. Her stomach is the size of a small blimp…"
          This is a classic book for all whale watchers and therefore should also appeal 
          to all fish watchers. 

  • Basic book on whales:
  • ISBN 0 -905483-85-5
  • Sea Watch Foundation

  • My favourite guide:
  • ISBN   0-7513-1030-1


Peter G.H. Evans

Sea Watch Foundation Publication, Oxford 1995

ISBN  1 85716 193 9

Shetland Sea Mammal Report 1998  (Link)
Reviews by Andy Horton

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