Wild Blue

A Natural History of the World's Largest Animal

Dan Bortolotti

Thomas Dunne Books

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The blue whale holds the title of largest creature that has ever lived, and it may also be the most mysterious. The biggest blue whales can outweigh every player in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League combined. Their mouths can gulp more than thirteen thousand gallons of seawater. A newborn can be over twenty feet long and gain nearly twenty tons in seven months—about eight pounds per hour. Blue whales emit more powerful sounds than any other animal on earth, though many of their vocalizations are beyond the range of human hearing.
            Yet nearly everything that we have learned about blue whales has come after humans almost wiped them out from the oceans. A century ago, some three hundred thousand roamed the seas. But in the first decades of the twentieth century, humans hunted and killed 99.9% of them. Their numbers decimated, the species seemed destined for extinction. Only in recent years has the number slowly begun to increase, along with hope for the blue whale’s future.
            Equal parts history and science, Wild Blue is the first comprehensive portrait of the blue whale. It draws upon new findings from scientists who have begun to identify individual blue whales and understand how they dive, how they feed, where they migrate, and why they emit their haunting, low-frequency calls. With deft, poignant writing, Dan Bortolotti gives us the most vibrant, breathtaking view to date of these magnificent creatures.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
Into the blue The blue whale is at once the largest animal in the world and one of the most mysterious. It is the longest, heaviest and loudest living creature, and yet it can be remarkably inconspicuous. Only a tiny percentage of people will ever have the good fortune of seeing or hearing one in the wild. Humanity’s attitude toward blue whales is also full of contradictions. Ancient cultures, so far as they knew about the mightiest of sea creatures, mythologized them. Modern humans, by contrast, chased them to the bottom of the globe, blasted them with exploding harpoons

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Reviews

Praise for Wild Blue

“A fascinating account of the history as well as the enduring mysteries of one of the world’s most amazing creatures.” —Eric Jay Dolin
“Most whale books turn into sagas. It’s the nature of the beast. One could hardly expect anything less from a book on the great blue whale. Dan Bortolotti turns his considerable journalistic skills to chronicling the blue whale saga. Spellbinding superlatives abound. Written with authority, insight, and compassion, Wild Blue reveals for the first time the big picture on the blue whale story.” —Erich Hoyt, author of Creatures of the Deep
“I have always been a stickler for accuracy, and I am delighted to report that Dan Bortolotti got everything right; from the inner workings of the largest of all cetaceans to the history of international whaling, where one of the goals appeared to be the elimination of the blue whale from the world’s oceans. Wild Blue is not only about the awesome capabilities of this magnificent creature, it is also an important history of animal killing for profit and a reflection on the future of wild animals in a world dominated by man.” —Richard Ellis, author of The Book of Whales and Men and Whales
"This is quite simply one of the best books ever written on any whale: accurate, up to date and immensely readable. Bortolotti has a great knack for explaining complex scientific concepts in simple, accessible ways for the general reader.  Wild Blue is a thorough and fascinating account of the biology, behavior and tragic hunting history of this giant among giants.” —Dr. Phillip Clapham, Smithsonian Institution
“In his chronicle of the great blue whales, which range across each of our planetary oceans from the North Atlantic to Antarctica, Dan Bortolotti eloquently describes both their grandeur and the ongoing threats to their future. Hunted to the edge of elimination in many regions, blue whales must still continue to swim a gauntlet of underwater noise and climatic impacts, even as scientists are only beginning to learn where they travel to give birth. The author provides us with an accurate history and up-to-date science on the greatest leviathan this planet has ever known.” — Dick Russell, author of Eye of the Whale

 

“With prodigious research and lucid—sometimes eloquent—writing, Bortolotti tells three great stories in this book. First is the tragedy of how human greed and technological ingenuity came close to annihilating our planet’s largest animal, turning hundreds of thousands of these majestic creatures into margarine, soap, pet food, fertilizer, and other industrial commodities. Second is an engaging mystery story, in which the author leads us deep into the living research of the modern scientific detectives who are attempting to understand these beings that only a few people can ever hope even to glimpse. Finally is the coda, that shows us the interconnections between the future of the blue whale and our own species’ roles on the blue planet.” —H. Bruce Franklin, author of The Most Important Fish in the Sea


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About the Author

Dan Bortolotti

Dan Bortolotti has published seven books of nonfiction, including Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders, and has twice been nominated for the Science in Society Book Award, given by the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. His writing has appeared in more than two dozen magazines in North America. He lives with his family just outside of Toronto.

Dan Bortolotti

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Available Formats and Book Details

Wild Blue
A Natural History of the World's Largest Animal
Dan Bortolotti

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
October 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429987776
ISBN10: 1429987774
336 pages, Includes eight pages of black-and-white photographs
$7.99
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Thomas Dunne Books

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