They began as land creatures. Then, for more plentiful food, or so scientists believe, whales made the water their home and evolved into the colossal, majestic creatures of the sea that we know today—the same majestic creatures that humans learned to hunt and kill: first for food and then for oil, soap, candles, furniture, and even waspwaist corsets. Rich in meat, blubber, bone, and baleen, the whale served so many purposes for humans that its stranding was seen as a gift from the sea.But now, with their numbers diminished worldwide, whales have become the subject of scientific study. Humans hunt now for a deeper understanding of cetaceans. Why would the world’s largest mammal do something that would most likely cause it to die? Around the world, scientists are trying to find the answer.
About the Author
Fran Hodgkins’s lifelong passion for marine biology and journalism inspired her to write about the very creatures that captured her imagination when she was a child.Fran now lives outside Baltimore, Maryland.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
nonfiction,novel, YA chapter book) This book focuses on an in-depth analogy of the question, " Why do whales strand?" The first section of the book focuses on the evolution of the whales species and the growth of the whaling industry and history of the evolution of it's near extinction. This creates a solid foundation for the reader. As we go into the scientific method and question, several theories are posed to the reader as well as the methods used to research them. The last part of the book focuses on successful rescue and release attempts. I found this book to be very interesting and would be a good reference book for a student doing a report on any aspect of whale. The photographs are striking as well.
An interesting and informative book about whales and theories about why they strand. Hodgkins starts with the evolution of whales and a brief history of humans' interaction with whales. She then goes into information about whale strandings and examines several theories as to why whales might strand. She includes several pages of source notes, a glossary, and an index at the end. Hand this one to your favorite young marine biologist wannabe.
Whale strandings are, unfortunately, a very real problem. In 2002 alone, the Cape Cod Stranding Network responded to 296 strandings, including one mass stranding. So what, exactly, causes whales to become stranded on the beach?
Scientists and marine biologists have no clear-cut answers, but they have several theories. Hearing damage, confusing geography, magnetic attractions, illness and injury, toxins, and instinctual whale behavior all seem to play a part in causing whales to strand. Whales, by nature, are pod mammals, and their very reluctance to leave an injured or sick member of their pod very often leads to mass strandings. Fishing nets and the hunting of whales also seems to play a part in confusing these gentle creatures.
There are several agencies throughout the United States -- and the world -- who work diligently to rescue those stranded whales who wash up on shore alive. For those who are already dead, or who die quickly after being stranded, necropsies (autopsies on animals) are performed to determine not only the cause of death, but to help in prevention of further strandings in the future.
THE WHALE SCIENTISTS is an informative look at a widespread problem that is perfect for either a classroom library or those who are looking for an in-depth look at whale strandings.