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Europe's Sea Mammals (cover)

Publisher: Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Publication Year: 2019

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 208

ISBN Number: 9780691182162

Price: £ 20.00

Europe's Sea Mammals: A Field Guide to the Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Seals (WildGuides)

This is a detailed identification guide to Europe’s sea mammals, covering 41 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises and nine species of seals. This comprehensive field guide covers the eastern Atlantic from Iceland to Macaronesia, the Mediterranean, Caspian and Baltic Seas, south to Cape Verde and north to Svalbard.

The book opens with an introduction to the different groups of marine mammals covered, the pinnipeds and cetaceans, and to the region covered. It then has a brief summary of the threats marine mammals face, how they are monitored, a summary of where, when and how to look for them, and an introduction to identification and behaviour.

The next section covers individual accounts for identifying each of the species covered. Here there are maps, drawings, graphics, photographs and descriptive text of key identification features, behaviour and where to find them. Following this there is a section providing further information for each species on range, ecology, population, longevity, feeding, social organisation and behaviour, communication, breeding, predation and threats. This section has supplementary photographs highlighting key aspects of behaviour and identification.

The final sections include a glossary of terms and other species mentioned in the accounts, some information on cetacean strandings and rescue, an overview of the key legislation relating to sea mammals, and importantly a summary of observation guidelines for viewing cetaceans and seals.

This field guide is comprehensive and detailed. While the species account pages feel quite busy and cluttered, the images and graphics along with the text provide all the information required to help the user identify the species. The further species accounts are rather text heavy with minimal images and some repetition of information in terms of descriptions but it certainly gives an excellent account of each species. There is also quite a bit of back and forth through the book as it refers to different pages, and there is a feeling of squashing a lot of information in which means some of the images and drawings are a little small.

All this being said, the book is an excellent guide for the sea mammals found in this region and is a must for anyone interested in locating, identifying and observing this group of mammals in the field.

Book reviewed by Rachael Barber

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