Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

Publication Date: October 2017

Popular book written for ages 10 to adult with 300+ state-of-the-art photos and illustrations

ISBN-10: 1770859411

ISBN-13: 978-1770859418

Edition: 1st Edition, Hardcover. 400+ images, Index, Bibliog., 300 pages, 10 x 10 inches, £30 / $49.95

Publisher: Firefly (US, Canada, UK)

Awarded March 2018: One of Best Reference Titles of the Year — Library Journal. “Erich Hoyt...immerses readers in the world of these marine mammals. An excellent balance of scientific study combined with a deep concern for conservation and habitat preservation.”

Awarded Honorable Mention, Best Children’s / Young Adult Nonfiction Book category by The American Society of Journalists & Authors, Inc., ASJA, New York

Prepare to smell whale breath and get rather wet. Witness courtship and mating practices and family relationships in the Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. Award-winning author and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Research Fellow Erich Hoyt takes readers into the field for a whale watcher’s eye view of some 90 species of cetaceans that make their homes in the world ocean.

Drawing on decades of firsthand experience as a participant in the current revolution in cetacean studies, Hoyt provides unique insights into the life histories of these compelling marine mammals. and the lifelong bonds among some family members. Meet the symphonic composers of the whale world—the humpback whales, with their complex 30-minute songs.

Hoyt’s latest book not only has insightful stories and the latest data on whales, dolphins and porpoises but provides an impassioned argument supporting the need for international protection of at-risk populations and their increasingly damaged habitat. This book offers readers a chance to participate in the debate about how best to make a future for these remarkable marine creatures.

“Whales, dolphins, and porpoises make up the class of social mammals known as cetaceans. Hoyt (research fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation; Creatures of the Deep) draws on more than 40 years of scientific interactions with these intelligent and fascinating creatures. Stunning images from principal photographer Brandon Cole and others, along with depictions by marine mammal illustrator Uko Gorter, enliven the text. Hoyt writes movingly on life cycles, the future for these animals, and how readers can get involved in protecting them. Verdict: For patrons of all ages.”

                                                                                                                            — Maggie Knapp, Library Journal, Nov. 2017

Despite its name, the Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is no dry, encyclopedic tome. Instead, Erich Hoyt’s 300-page labor of love for all things cetacean focuses on stories of more than 90 species of wild whales, dolphins, and porpoises, with over 300 photographs and illustrations. Hoyt draws on his decades of experience studying and writing about cetaceans, and has created an excellent up-to-date resource with the latest insights into our understanding of cetaceans. Hoyt explains his vision for the book in this trailer.”

                                                                                                                           — Hakai Magazine, Jan. 2018

5 Stars: My excitement at this book's arrival was shared by my children...I've been a fan of Hoyt's work since I was almost a child myself and found a copy of 'Orca' in the village library, and he's at least partly to blame for my own cetacean obsession. The vivid descriptions of playing music with killer whales have stayed with me ever since, set me dreaming....Hoyt's clear, engaging writing has taken me on many astonishing journeys - to the complex society of ants in the rainforest, to the bizarre creatures of the deep oceans and to encounters with whales and dolphins throughout the world. For Erich has spent his working life immersed in the world of whales and this book brings together the wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom he has gathered in his travels. It covers human-whale relationships, from Aristotle's observations through the whaling days to the recent 'revolution' in research, in which he's played an integral part. He then takes us through the basics of whale biology, before introducing all 90 known species. It's incredibly comprehensive, and I guess that's what an encyclopedia is, but to me the word doesn't do justice to the richness of the narrative. There's a story here, of the relationship between people and whales - one of the most beguiling and critical stories still unfolding on this blue planet. It's shot through with personal experience, and we're introduced to individual characters, both human and cetacean. This book will be an invaluable resource and up-to-date reference for anyone working in wildlife issues, and a treasured source of information and inspiration for the whole family. It's set us all dreaming...”

                                                                                                                            — Anna Levin, Naturalist, Author, Dec. 2017

Whale researcher Hoyt (Creatures of the Deep) provides readers with a vivid and informative introduction to the big splashy world of cetaceans. The encyclopedia highlights intriguing cetacean details....The author examines the controversy regarding the slaughter of some whale species to near extinction and the growth of the international conservation movement over the past 50 years. Hoyt persuasively argues that there is an urgent need to globally protect whales and their environment....The final chapter includes illustrations and fact boxes for all 90 cetaceans. There is enough scientific detail to make this an excellent reference book, and the beautiful color photos will also give it plenty of appeal for casual readers.”

DETAILS                                                                                                                Publishers Weekly, 4 Dec. 2017

“Required reading...beautifully illustrated.” — Featured title in August 2017 Canadian Geographic Travel Newsletter

“This latest book by renowned cetacean researcher Erich Hoyt enters a crowded marketplace. Is there room for another? The answer is an emphatic yes, as this comprehensive treatment of the world’s cetaceans is detailed, informative, and well-illustrated — with a host of excellent photographs and accurate illustrations in the species accounts.”

                                                                                                                          — BBC Wildlife, Dec. 2017

“Marine researcher and conservationist Hoyt… introduces readers to the field of cetaceans with this eye-catching and appealing work. Beginning with…the intertwined history of whales and humans, the book’s following sections provide context on methods of research at sea and…the basic biology (anatomy, migration, social behavior, and more) of cetaceans. Thought-provoking questions peppered throughout the text on topics such as invasive research tools and recent whale strandings will help to keep the reader engaged…The attractive layout features dazzling photos on almost every page spread. The book concludes with a list of ways individuals can get involved as citizen scientists...An accessible volume for school and public libraries.”

                                                                                                                           — Maren Ostergard, Booklist

“A superb, thorough and beautifully illustrated reference book Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises by Erich Hoyt, Firefly Books...[is] ideal for anybody of any age.”

                                                                                                                          — School Library Association


Awarded Top Choice, number one on the list of the ten best encyclopedias based on scanned reviews (20 Nov. 2017).



Chapter 1: Humans and Whales

Our Shared History

Chapter 2: Research at Sea

Studying Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

Photo identification

Identifying Humpbacks

Transect studies

Acoustic research

Land-based studies

Science for Conservation

Diet Detection

Chapter 3: Basic Biology

How Cetaceans Function

How Baleen and Toothed Whales Differ


Marks of Diversity


How Big Is Big


Learning from Stranded Whales

Social Behavior

Courtship and Reproduction

Whale, Dolphin and Porpoise Life Histories

Whale Longevity

Songs, Calls and Clicks: Unraveling the Sonic World

The Value of Identifying Killer Whale Dialects

Chapter 4: Baleen Whales

Introducing the Baleen Whales: Mysticeti

Right and Bowhead Whales • Family Balaenidae

North Atlantic Right Whale

Conservation Status

North Pacific Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Bowhead Whale

Pygmy Right Whale • Family Neobalanaenidae

Pygmy Right Whale

Rorquals • Family Balaenopteridae

Blue Whale

Fin Whale

Asymmetry in the Whale World

Sei Whale

Bryde’s Whale

Common Minke Whale

Humpback Whale

Gray Whale • Family Eschrichtiidae

Gray Whale

Size Comparison—Baleen Whales: Mysticeti

Chapter 5: Toothed Whales

Introducing the Toothed Whales: Odontoceti

Large-sized Toothed Whales

Sperm Whale • Family Physeteridae

Sperm Whale

Pygmy Sperm Whale and Dwarf Sperm Whales • Family Kogiidae

Pygmy Sperm Whale

Dwarf Sperm Whale

Beluga and Narwhal • Family Monodontidae



The Social Life of Baird’s Beaked Whales

The Whale That Swam into London

Beaked Whales • Family Ziphiidae

A New Member of the Family

Size Comparison—Toothed Whales: Odontoceti

Chapter 6: Dolphins and Porpoises

Medium-sized Toothed Whales

Oceanic Dolphins • Family Delphinidae

Irrawaddy dolphin

Discovering the Dolphins and Porpoises

Australian Snubfin Dolphin

Blackfish Dolphins

Killer Whale, or Orca

All-white Whales and Dolphins

Short-finned Pilot Whale

Long-finned Pilot Whale

Risso’s Dolphin

On the River with Guiana Dolphins

Rough-toothed Dolphin

Humpback Dolphins • Sousa species

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Stenella Dolphins • Stenella species

Spinner Dolphin

Common Dolphins

Fraser’s Dolphin

“Lag” Dolphins • Lagenorhynchus species

Commerson’s Dolphin

Dusky Dolphin Society

Saving the New Zealand Dolphin

Hector’s Dolphin

Small-sized Toothed Whales

River Dolphins • Families Platanistidae, Iniidae, Lipotidae, Pontoporiidae

Amazon River Dolphin, or Boto

Losing the Baiji

Porpoises • Family Phocoenidae

Harbor porpoise


Size Comparison—Toothed Whales: Dolphins and Porpoises

Chapter 7: The Future for Whales

Still at the Edge of Extinction?

Cetacean Culture

Prey-sharing in Killer Whales

Getting Close to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

Are Whales Dangerous?

The Whale Trail

Essential whale-watching tips

Pollution: How We Can All Help

Noise as Pollution

Homes for Cetaceans: Protecting Their Habitat

The Story of Billie, or How to Set up a Marine

Protected Area or Sanctuary for Dolphins

Should Cetaceans Have Rights?

A Charter for Cetacean Rights

Appendix: The Cetaceans

Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

Baleen Whales

Right and Bowhead Whales

Pygmy Right Whale


Gray Whale

Toothed Whales

Sperm Whale

Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales

Beluga and Narwhal

Beaked Whales

Oceanic Dolphins

River Dolphins


Getting Involved

Photo Credits

Sources and Resources


For signed copies or quantity discounts, click here, or go to erichhoytbooks.com. Books are also available on various independent and other book sites, including hive.co.uk http://bit.ly/2vyviTe and from independent book stores. Also available from Amazon:

US: http://amzn.to/2rnR0rh  

UK: http://bit.ly/EncyclopediaWhales

For review copies for online or print publications, email me here, and I can contact the PR person at the publisher.

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Books by Erich Hoyt