Book Review - Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises by Mark Carwardine

A closer look inside the Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises


Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

by Mark Carwardine, Illustrations by Martin Camm

Field Guides – those essential bibles for the serious nature watcher. If you are like me, you will have your well-thumbed and dog-eared favourites. Mine is a 1973 copy of the Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe – my boyhood bird book that went everywhere with me is now without a cover but still lives on, living in the car door pocket, ready and waiting for use when needed.

What is your old trusty favourite Field Guide? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page!?

>> Moving onwards to the present day though, I now have a new contender in the form of zoologist, writer, presenter and top wildlife photographer Mark Carwardine’s Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, published by Bloomsbury. (See the end for a special offer.)

Like many of you I suspect, I have always had a love and fascination for whales and dolphins after watching countless TV programmes for decades from the likes of Jacques Cousteau and Sir David Attenborough, and now working in the cetacean and wildlife watching industry for the last 3 years or so with Hebridean Adventures, I am finally getting the chance to get out to sea and spot and photograph a few in their natural environment myself which is very special.

This brand-new field guide therefore is very welcome as it gives the amateur naturalist and wildlife lover the best chance at identifying the various species to be found both at home around the UK (up to 28 species recorded!) and around the world when on holiday. Highlighted with superb illustrations by Martin Camm, the Field Guide gives you all the best ID points to compare and contrast with your own observations and sightings, whether that be a tail fluke, blow pattern, a top view of a bow riding animal or relative sizes to a human, all these and more specific behaviour to individuals is characterised and explained.

The collections of species by geographic regions are a useful head start in any identification quest, helping to narrow the search list and giving you a useful clue what to watch out for when preparing for a trip to a certain area. I know I will be using it on my next trip out around the Hebrides, and then down in the Azores on a future visit hopefully as well. Being able to learn a little about the natural history of these amazing animals is also a bonus as they are so diverse. There’s a particularly large 14-page section about the various orca populations for you orcaphiles out there.

My favourite find? How about the strap-toothed beaked whale. A species I had never heard of before browsing this guide and what an amazing beast it is with tusks that wrap around its upper jaws, almost binding them closed in some animals. The world of whales, dolphins and porpoises really is amazing, and I can thoroughly recommend adding this guide to your collection. 

Make sure you get yourself your own copy for when you join us for your Outer Hebrides whale and dolphin watching cruise with us, but it's also useful for ferry crossings, shoreline visits and your other holidays around the world! We will certainly have one on board each of our boats for our guests to use and browse in any case.

Order your copy online now and save some money in the process! 

Just click on through to the Bloomsbury Publishing website below where they are generously offering our readers a 20% discount. 

Please use the code WHALES20 at the checkout.

RRP £15.29 - Your Price £13.59!

Very Special Cruise Alert!

Join author and photographer Kevin Morgans with Wildlife Worldwide at the Shiant Isles next June!