Select one of the keywords
As Long As There Are Whales    by Evelyne Daigle & Daniel Grenier order for
As Long As There Are Whales
by Evelyne Daigle
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Biologist Evelyne Daigle brings us closer to the majestic world of whales, in the context of the Canadian St. Lawrence River (the white Beluga lives there all through the year, while other species migrate in springtime). Daniel Grenier's illustrations do a wonderful job of conveying the beauty and mystery of these engaging great mammals, including two pages at the back of the book which distinguish thirteen whale species that can be spotted in the St. Lawrence in summertime. The book was translated by Genevieve Wright.

We're first introduced to humpback mother and calf in their springtime migration from the Caribbean to Canada. The author gives us the baby's perspective in the change from the 'clear, turquoise, tropical waters' of its birth to navigating the underwater landscapes of a freezing, opaque river with strong currents, dense in seaweed and plankton. The author tells us about different kinds of whales and their massive requirements for daily food intake. I learned how salt gets into seawater, that whales sleep on the surface, that they eat birds as well as fish, that the Mysticete (or 'mustached whale') filters its food through fringelike 'baleen plates', and why whales evolved to be so big (the blue whale weighs about 100 tons!)

Did you know that the ancestor (55 million years ago) of both whales and dolphins was a doglike land mammal called the Mesonyx? That was news to me. I knew that whales use echolocation, but the distances they communicate surprised me - up to 1000 kilometers for the blue whale! I found it endearing that both vocalization and physical contact are important aspects of cetacean socialization. There's a fascinating discussion of the humpback's pack use of 'bubble netting' to catch fish, and speculation on what causes whales to be stranded. The book ends with an overview of cetacean research - the use of photo identification, satellite tracking, bio-acoustics - and issues of whale survival.

I recommend As Long As There Are Whales to anyone interested in learning more about these amazing, enormous creatures. Read the book - you'll be tempted to take it with you on a St. Lawrence whale spotting trip this summer.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews