Whaleopedia

A Cetacean Guide

A Cetacean Guide

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INTRODUCTION

Awed by their size, intelligence, social nature, and on the precipice of understanding their way of life in a challenging habitat, we are fascinated by the cetaceans: whales, dolphins and porpoises — air-breathing mammals with which we feel such an unlikely kinship.

The great rise in popularity of whale watching in Hawaii, California, New England, and elsewhere around the world, bears eloquent witness to our desire to see and know more about these fascinating animals. Several species of great whales have been depleted to the point of near-extinction — for oil, fertilizer, pet food, and cosmetics — before we have learned as much about them as we have about the rarest and most protected of land mammals. In more recent years, threats such as prey depletion, vessel traffic, pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, sonar testing and climate change threaten their livelihood,  in addition to continued whaling and direct dolphin and porpoise kills. At least one species of dolphin, the Baiji, will probably soon go extinct from our shortsightedness, and there are doubtless other species, most likely the ziphiids, or beaked whales, that have yet to be discovered.

If we are to preserve the whales, dolphins and porpoises  — then we must learn more about their astonishing abilities — and weaknesses. It is to that greater knowledge and the hope for their survival that this website is dedicated.

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