Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

An exclusive blog from the author Mark Carwardine and 20% off book orders for Hebridean Adventures blog readers


When you are out on the water, it's really handy to have a top field guide with you to be able to identify which species of cetaceans are around you. We were delighted to receive an early copy of the upcoming release of Field Guide to Whales Dolphins and Porpoises written by Mark Carwardine. This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date field guide which covers every species and subspecies in the world and will be available from the 26th May 2022.

Author Mark Carwardine is a zoologist and an award-winning writer, a TV and radio presenter, a bestselling author of more than 50 books, a BBC Wildlife magazine columnist, a widely published photographer and an outspoken environmentalist. He presented BBC Radio 4’s weekly programme, Nature, for many years and is best known for his Last Chance to See books, radio series and TV series with Douglas Adams and Stephen Fry. He was Chair of the Judging Panel of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for seven years and was selected as one of ‘The World’s 40 Most Influential Nature Photographers’ in the US’s Outdoor Photography magazine. He is currently presenting and producing the BBC Wildlife Photography Masterclass on YouTube and runs wildlife photography holidays and workshops all over the world. 

Mark has kindly provided us with an exclusive blog for Hebridean Adventures which you can read below:

"No one ever says ‘I can’t remember if I’ve seen a whale’. A close encounter with one of the most enigmatic, gargantuan and downright remarkable creatures on the planet is a life-changing experience for most people. Over the past 35 years, I’ve spent countless thousands of hours watching whales (and dolphins and porpoises – by ‘whale’ I am talking about all cetaceans) and yet I still remember my first encounter: I was 21 years old, on a half-day commercial trip from Long Beach, California, when a grey whale suddenly breached right in front of me. In my mind’s eye, I can see this great leviathan leaping out of the water and remember deciding – at that very moment – that I wanted to spend as much of my life with whales as possible. I’ve been very lucky indeed to be able to do so - and still get just as excited every time I see a whale of any kind.

It’s important to know what you’re looking at, of course, and there’s been a desperate need for an up-to-date and comprehensive field guide to whales, dolphins and porpoises for a long time. Our knowledge of cetaceans has improved dramatically in recent years - and a surprising number of new species have been discovered and named - so previous guides (my own included) are drastically out of date. I spent six years researching and writing the Handbook of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (which is designed more as a comprehensive reference book to be used at home or in the office - but weighs almost as much as a small porpoise) and, more recently, have been working on an abbreviated version to take into the field. The new Field Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is that book - it’s fully updated and focuses more on identification.

Where better to test your identification skills than off the west coast of Scotland? There is some fabulous whale and dolphin watching here, of course, and one of my favourite areas is the Outer Hebrides. Hebridean Adventures offers some fabulous trips to everywhere from the Minch to St Kilda and it doesn’t get much better than that! You’ll be spotting minke whales, common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and harbour porpoises - and, as with all the best whale watching, you could be surprised by the occasional humpback, fin whale, white-beaked dolphin or even orca. If you haven’t been already, I’d highly recommend it. And, if you have, go again - as you’ll probably know by now, whale watching is addictive!"

Don't miss out on this essential guide for getting to know all the different types of cetaceans that are in our planet's waters!

Remember, Hebridean Adventures blog readers can receive 20% off Field Guide to Whales Dolphins and Porpoises (including pre-orders) on using code WHALES20.