Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

Front Cover
University of Washington Press, 2013 - Nature - 206 pages
11 Reviews
Among all the large whales on Earth, the most unusual and least studied is the narwhal, the northernmost whale on the planet and the one most threatened by global warming. Narwhals thrive in the fjords and inlets of northern Canada and Greenland. These elusive whales, whose long tusks were the stuff of medieval European myths and Inuit legends, are uniquely adapted to the Arctic ecosystem and are able to dive below thick sheets of ice to depths of up to 1,500 meters in search of their prey-halibut, cod, and squid.

Join Todd McLeish as he travels high above the Arctic circle to meet:

Teams of scientific researchers studying the narwhal's life cycle and the mysteries of its tusk

Inuit storytellers and hunters

Animals that share the narwhals' habitat: walruses, polar bears, bowhead and beluga whales, ivory gulls, and two kinds of seals

McLeish consults logbooks kept by whalers and explorers and interviews folklorists and historians to tease out the relationship between the real narwhal and the mythical unicorn. In Colorado, he visits climatologists studying changes in the seasonal cycles of the Arctic ice. From a history of the trade in narwhal tusks to descriptions of narwhals' vocalizations as heard through hydrophones, Narwhals reveals the beauty and thrill of the narwhal and its habitat, and the threat it faces from a rapidly changing world.

Todd McLeish is the author of Golden Wings and Hairy Toes: Encounters with New England's Most Imperiled Wildlife and Basking with Humpbacks: Tracking Threatened Marine Life in New England Waters. He lives in Pascoag, Rhode Island.

"Narwhals is more than a 'whale of a tale' that lovers of the sea will enjoy reading. It also gives the reader a firsthand glimpse into the lives of Arctic dwellers as they struggle to survive in a changing world." -Dr. Robert D. Ballard, marine explorer and oceanographer

"Todd McLeish takes us far in several dimensions-across space, through time, and into the interiors of the human mental landscape-to paint a vivid and eloquent portrait of an animal seldom seen, wrongly imagined, and too often mistreated. This is one of those rare books that lifts you up and takes you in." -Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point and A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

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Review: Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

User Review  - Samantha - Goodreads

I enjoyed the detailed science, history, and personal experiences the author included. This was the first time I have read about narwhals and the book was appropriately lay level and comprehensive. Read full review

Review: Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

User Review  - Garrett - Goodreads

I picked this book up from the library because when I saw it, I realized that I didn't know anything about narwhals. I did learn a lot about the ages, behaviors, and features of narwhals, including ... Read full review

About the author (2013)

TODD MCLEISH is a publicist at the University of Rhode Island and has published over 100 articles on wildlife topics for such publications as Bird Watcher's Digest, WildBird, Natural New England, Northern Woodlands, Country Journal, Northern Sky News, and the Providence Journal.

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