Cover Image

Watching Giants

The Secret Lives of Whales

Elin Kelsey (Author), Doc White (Photographer), Francois Gohier (Photographer)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 214 pages
ISBN: 9780520261587
December 2008
$29.95, £25.00
Other Formats Available:
Personal, anecdotal, and highly engaging, Watching Giants opens a window on a world that seems quite like our own, yet is so different that understanding it pushes the very limits of our senses. Elin Kelsey's colorful first-person account, drawing from her rich, often humorous, everyday experiences as a mother, a woman, and a scientist, takes us to the incredibly productive waters of the Gulf of California and beyond, to oceans around the world. Kelsey brings us along as she talks to leading cetacean researchers and marine ecologists about their intriguing discoveries. We encounter humpback whales that build nets from bubbles, gain a disturbing maternal perspective on the dolphin-tuna issue, uncover intimate details about whale sex, and contemplate the meaning of the complex social networks that exist in the seas. What emerges alongside these fascinating snapshots of whale culture is a dizzying sense of the tremendous speed with which we are changing the oceans' ecosystems—through overfishing, noise pollution, even real estate development. Watching Giants introduces a world of immense interconnectivity and beauty—one that is now facing imminent peril.

1. Extreme Motherhood
2. A Sea of Milk
3. Looking for Whales in All the Wrong Places
4. Resident Aliens?
5. How to Make a Really Rich Sea
6. Popular Mechanics: What Chimpanzees and Dolphins Can Teach Us about Tools
7. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Smartest One of All?
8. Building Nets from Bubbles and Other Mysterious Talents of Humpback Whales
9. Do Baby Sperm Whales Suck Milk through Their Noses?
10. Deep Culture
11. What's the Use of Granny?
12. Dolphin Snatchers
13. Friendly Mothers, Friendly Calves?
14. The War on Fish
15. Why Blue Whales Gotta Be Big
16. What You Can See by Listening
17. What You Can Learn from the Dead
18. Let's Talk about Sex, Baby
19. Missing Meat
20. Shifting Scale

Elin Kelsey is the author of Saving Sea Otters, Finding Out about Whales, Strange New Species, and other books. She consults for environmental organizations including the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). She is a faculty member in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University in Canada.
“An appealing, agitating foray into the world of whales that ignites both protective instincts and a hungry curiosity to know more.”—Kirkus Reviews
Cogent, compassionate . . . Brilliant at pursuing seemingly unrelated trails back down the blowhole, Kelsey illuminates the “humanity” of whales.—Publishers Weekly
Engaging portrayal of the lives and culture of whales. . . . Range(s) from meditative essays on the scale of whales’ lives through to hard scientific reporting.—The Economist
“Charming. . . . Will be of interest to all whale and dolphin watchers.”—Choice
"In Watching Giants: The Secret Lives of Whales, Elin Kelsey provides an in depth look into one of the world's most magnificent creatures. I'm sure these stories will amaze and inspire you as they did me. A joy to read."—Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

"Watching Giants is a wonderful book about animals whose complex social relationships and deep emotional lives are difficult to observe and even more difficult to understand. I know for certain that after reading this book, others will learn as much about whales and their underwater environment as I did from traveling with Elin Kelsey."—Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

"Prepare to be immersed in a different world. Like sitting down to a long dinner with a delightful and erudite friend who is about to tell you everything you need to know about the ocean, this absorbing book will let you see the ocean and its creatures in a way that you never imagined possible."—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals

"Watching Giants reads like dispatches from the frontiers of marine science, covering everything from homosexuality in dolphins to whale intelligence, culture, and conservation with extraordinary insight. Superbly written and highly recommended."—Erich Hoyt, Senior Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and author of Creatures of the Deep

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