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Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the Western North Atlantic A Guide to Their Identification   By:

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Transcriber's Notes:

This is a Plain Text Version. It uses the Latin 1 Character set, but note that the only non ASCII character used is the degree symbol.

Italic typeface in the original is indicated with underscores . Bold typeface in the original is indicated with UPPER CASE.

A list of other publications (NOAA Technical Reports) appears on the front cover of the original book, before the title page. This list has been retained, but has been moved to join the continuation of the list inside the back cover.

Other changes to the text have been listed after the end of the book.

NOAA Technical Report NMFS CIRC 396

Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the Western North Atlantic

A Guide to Their Identification


with special assistance by William E. Schevill and Melba C. Caldwell


UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Elliot L. Richardson, Secretary / NATIONAL OCEANIC AND / ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION / Robert M. White, Administrator / National Marine / Fisheries Service / Robert W. Schoning, Director

[Illustration: NOAA logo]

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402

Stock No. 003 020 00119 0 / Catalog No. C 55.13: NMFS CIRC 396


In March 1972, the Naval Undersea Center (NUC), San Diego, Calif. in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Tiburon, Calif. published a photographic field guide The Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises of the Eastern North Pacific. A Guide to Their Identification in the Water , by S. Leatherwood, W.E. Evans, and D.W. Rice (NUC TP 282). This guide was designed to assist the layman in identifying the cetaceans he encountered in that area and was intended for use in two ongoing whale observer programs, NUC's Whale Watch and NMFS's Platforms of Opportunity. The rationale of these programs was that since oceanographers, commercial and sport fishermen, naval personnel, commercial seamen, pleasure boaters, and coastal aircraft pilots together canvas large areas of the oceans which scientists specializing in whales (cetologists) have time and funds to survey only occasionally, training those persons in species identification and asking them to report their sightings back to central data centers could help scientists more clearly understand distribution, migration, and seasonal variations in abundance of cetacean species. For such a program to work, a usable field guide is a requisite. Because the many publications on the whales, dolphins, and porpoises of this region were either too technical in content or too limited in geographical area or species covered to be of use in field identification, and because conventional scientific or taxonomic groupings of the animals are often not helpful in field identification, the photographic field guide took a different approach. Instead of being placed into their scientific groups, species were grouped together on the basis of similarities in appearance during the brief encounters typical at sea. Photographs of the animals in their natural environment, supplemented by drawings and descriptions or tables distinguishing the most similar species, formed the core of the guide.

Despite deficiencies in the first effort and the inherent difficulties of positively identifying many of the cetacean species at sea, the results obtained from the programs have been encouraging. Many seafarers who had previously looked with disinterest or ignorance on the animals they encountered became good critical observers and found pleasure in the contribution they were making... Continue reading book >>

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