The WHALE PRIMER provides a brief introduction to one of nature’s most interesting creations, the whale. The principal star of the handbook is the California gray whale which in recent years has become a major tourist attraction in southern California. Notwithstanding the extreme interest, no concise interpretation of the migration has been prepared. Although there is a tremendous number of technical and popular writings about whales, there is still great mystery about them. Whales carry on practically their entire lives below the surface of the sea out of reach of man, so that most of our knowledge has been pieced together from the study of the bodies of slaughtered whales. The literature abounds in partial truths, misinterpretations and technicalities which confuse even the specialists. Many of the sources of information require translation.
Furthermore, many of these papers were published in journals of limited distribution. Others are long since out of print, and much of the primary historic records can be found by examination of records which exist only in one particular library. In the preparation of this manuscript, hundreds of books and over 4,000 papers were catalogued, of which the most important were available, and examined. The author was particularly fortunate to have Japanese and Russian friends who gave gladly of their time to insure coverage of these important papers.
The author deliberately made an extreme condensation of the facts in order to prevent the reader from being overwhelmed by details that merely obscure the broad picture. It is hoped that the reader will gain an awareness of the extreme mastery by whales of the marine environment. Other basic concepts of biology, which are clearly illustrated by the natural history of whales, are developed.