Troubled Waters

Food for thought

Troubled Waters

Product details

Product name: Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins

Reviewer: Jenny Blackford

Author: Sarah Lazarus

Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

Price: $39.95

Size: 210 pages

G Rating:


In this admirable small book, Sarah Lazarus demonstrates that it was not so long ago that human beings saw whales and dolphins - like forests - primarily as useful sources of raw materials.

We hunted them for oil, 'whalebone' (actually baleen), meat, and occasionally ambergris (once widely used as a fixative in perfumes, and worth its weight in gold).

Beginning with the Basques in around the tenth century, commercial whalers have killed astonishing numbers of whales worldwide, driving many populations close to extinction.

These days, whale watching and swimming with dolphins are booming tourist businesses, and sea mammals inspire affection, respect and even reverence from some quarters.

Despite this, as Lazarus shows, they are still under threat from many directions. Underwater noise pollution may deafen and disorient them; global warming may reduce their food supply; they can be tangled in fishing nets, or hit by ships; and the IWC seems unable to curb whaling by nations including Japan and Norway.

The real work of saving the whales is only beginning.

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