256 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps
Out of the Blue is the most comprehensive treatment of marine mammals – whales, dolphins, porpoises and dugongs - and their environment in the northern region of the Indian Ocean. It features well over 300 stunning photographs, and close to 200 illustrations, paintings and maps. The author's unique depth of experience and knowledge, coupled with stunning photography and the artists and illustrators unrivaled skills, come together to produce this educationally-focused monumental publication that is well laid out and highly informative.
Out of the Blue is organized into four parts to give well-rounded and effectively informed knowledge to the reader.
The first part includes early accounts of marine mammals in Sri Lankan waters and then, much like a mini-encyclopedia, providing answers to a collection of questions on marine mammals that cover topics such as behaviour, physiology, reproduction, and its form and function.
Next, a detailed catalogue gives individual profiles of 30 illustrated species on double page spreads such as morphology, behaviour, diet, taxonomy and conservation status. The information here is manifold in that, outside of factual information colour coded tables indicate the probability of sightings at various depths and locations primarily based on analysis of over 3,700 sighting records.
The third section, stems from the author's unique depth of experience with marine mammals and discovery of the relevance of bathymetry (depth of ocean floor) and other elements to their habits. This reflects his own progression to a fascination with oceanography and the correlation with marine mammal occurrences, especially concerning the larger whales. Explanations are offered on currents and various deep-sea parameters. Food, that vital ingredient, must be understood in terms of sources and relevant factors. It has been detailed in a most welcome, holistic approach to understanding the oceans and the life within them.
The final section deals with whale-and-dolphin watching. It provides information on when and where to go see marine mammals around Sri Lanka along with sighting distribution maps and guidelines for good conduct at sea.
"This book is a mini-library packed into one volume. It is a marine mammal guide and a whale-watching guide combined with relevant elements of oceanography and the history of cetacean research, all condensed into one fact-filled volume. The ID guide section lists clearly key features to look for which will make this a useful field companion as well as a desk reference. This book will raise the bar for what is expected from a country-specific whale watching guide book."
- Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Natural History Populariser, 10-11-2012
"Approaching his passion with scientific precision, Howard has created what amounts to a mini-encyclopaedia of marine mammals in the region."
- Smriti Daniel, Senior Feature Writer, Sunday Times, 01-12-2013
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