342 pages, 173 colour photos and colour illustrations
Ocean currents, winds, and rainfall all work together to create a marine oasis around the Hawaiian Islands, providing a home for many species of dolphins and whales normally found in the deep oceans of the world. The Lives of Hawai`i's Dolphins and Whales provides a window into the world of these mysterious creatures with stories and observations from author Robin W. Baird's work with Hawaiian whales and dolphins over the last seventeen years. The Lives of Hawai'i's Dolphins and Whales can be used as a field guide, as it includes full-color photographs of each species, life history descriptions, conservation threats, and maps showing sighting locations and movements of tagged individuals among the islands and offshore.
Although The Lives of Hawai'i's Dolphins and Whales covers the well-known resident spinner dolphins and the visiting humpback whales, it particularly highlights the ten species of lesser-known open-ocean dolphins and whales that are resident to the marine slopes of the islands. These include endangered false killer whales, deep-diving Cuvier's and Blainville's beaked whales, abundant spotted dolphins, coastal bottlenose dolphins, cryptic dwarf sperm whales, family units of short-finned pilot whales, and social melon-headed whales, among others. Also described are thirteen species of dolphins and whales found in offshore waters or that visit the Hawaiian waters seasonally or occasionally, including killer whales, the iconic sperm whale, and even blue whales and North Pacific right whales.
More is known about the social organization and natural history of many of the species in Hawai`i than anywhere else in the world; much of the data resulting from studies using genetics and satellite tagging. For all species discussed, Baird presents information obtained from long-term photo-identification studies, with distinctive individuals tracked through time and space. He also provides information on predators and prey, social organization, diving, and night-time behavior, along with suggestions on how to tell some of the more difficult to identify species apart. Baird concludes by exploring conservation issues, both success stories and challenges, and engages readers to consider ways to protect Hawai`i's unique assemblage of resident dolphins and whales.
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Robin W. Baird is a research biologist with Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit research and education organization based in Olympia, Washington.