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This book takes a refreshing follow-up to the critically acclaimed "Golden Wings & Hairy Toes". "Basking with Humpbacks" offers an exciting, close-up look at some of the rarest marine creatures living in New England waters and examines the complex threats they face. In eleven chapters, each featuring a different animal or plant, McLeish takes readers on an entertaining first-person journey with biologists who study these species. The author follows basking sharks - the second largest fish in the sea - as they search for food, helps harbor porpoises escape from fishing nets, snorkels in search of wild bay scallops, and learns how the blood of horseshoe crabs is used in medical research. Along the way he visits the islands where rare seabirds nest, tracks humpback whales on their long migration to the Gulf of Maine, and watches as stranded sea turtles are released back into the ocean.
These first-person experiences are coupled with interviews with biologists and other experts who explain in their own words the important role these creatures play in the marine ecosystem and what steps must be taken to protect them. In examining the natural history of selected plants and animals, McLeish also discusses the physics of waves and currents, the geology of the seabed, the chemistry of sea water, and other natural factors influencing the lives of New England marine life. Species examined include the humpback whale, Atlantic halibut, harbor porpoise, Leach's storm petrel, leatherback turtle, bay scallop, Atlantic wolffish, harlequin duck, and basking shark.