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Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123838537, 9780080557847

Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification

1st Edition

Authors: Thomas Jefferson Marc Webber Robert Pitman
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123838537
eBook ISBN: 9780080557847
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 7th December 2007
Page Count: 592
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With coverage on all the marine mammals of the world, authors Jefferson, Webber, and Pitman have created a user-friendly guide to identify marine mammals alive in nature (at sea or on the beach), dead specimens “in hand”, and also to identify marine mammals based on features of the skull. This handy guide provides marine biologists and interested lay people with detailed descriptions of diagnostic features, illustrations of external appearance, beautiful photographs, dichotomous keys, and more. Full color illustrations and vivid photographs of every living marine mammal species are incorporated, as well as comprehendible maps showing a range of information. For readers who desire further consultation, authors have included a list of literature references at the end of each species account. For an enhanced understanding of habitation, this guide also includes recognizable geographic forms described separately with colorful paintings and photographs. All of these essential tools provided make Marine Mammals of the World the most detailed and authoritative guide available!

Key Features

  • Contains superb photographs of every species of marine mammal for accurate identification
    * Authors’ collective experience adds up to 80 years, and have seen nearly all of the species and distinctive geographic forms described in the guide
    * Provides the most detailed and anatomically accurate illustrations currently available
    * Special emphasis is placed on the identification of species in “problem groups,” such as the beaked whales, long-beaked oceanic dolphin, and southern fur seals
    * Includes a detailed list of sources for more information at the back of the book.


Marine biologists, laypeople interested in a guide to marine mammals.

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Need for This Guide

Marine Mammal Identification and How to Use This Guide

Notes on the Format of the Species Accounts

Notes on the Dichotomous Keys

Request For Feedback from Users

Chapter 2: Basic Marine Mammal Biology

What is a Marine Mammal?

Types of Marine Mammals

Evolutionary History

Zoogeography, Distribution, and Migration

Anatomy and Physiology

Life History and Reproduction

Feeding Ecology


Behavior and Social Organization


Exploitation and Conservation

Chapter 3: Taxonomic Groupings Above the Species Level

Order Cetacea— Whales, dolphins, and porpoises

Suborder Mysticeti—Baleen whales

Family Balaenidae—Right and bowhead whales

Family Neobalaenidae—Pygmy right whale

Family Balaenopteridae—Rorquals

Family Eschrichtiidae—Gray whale

Suborder Odontoceti—Toothed whales

Family Physeteridae—Sperm whale

Family Kogiidae—Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales

Family Monodontidae—Narwhal and beluga whale

Family Ziphiidae—Beaked whales

Family Delphinidae—Marine dolphins

Family Phocoenidae—Porpoises

Family Platanistidae—South Asian river dolphin

Family Iniidae—Boto

Family Lipotidae—Baiji

Family Pontoporiidae—Franciscana

Order Sirenia—Manatees and dugongs

Family Trichechidae—Manatees

Family Dugongidae—Dugong

Order Carnivora—Carnivorous mammals (including pinnipeds, marine otters, and polar bears)

Family Mustelidae—Otters

Family Ursidae—Bears

Suborder Pinnipedia—Seals, sea lions, and walruses

Family Otariidae—Eared seals

Family Odobenidae—Walrus

Family Phocidae—True seals

Chapter 4: Cetaceans

Chapter 5: Pinnipeds

Recognizable geographic forms

Chapter 6: Sirenian and Other Species

Recognizable geographic forms

Chapter 7: Extinct Species

Chapter 8: Dichotomous Identification Keys

Chapter 9: Summaries of Characters for Similar Species

Glossary of Technical Terms


Index—Common Names

Index—Scientific Names


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2007
7th December 2007
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas A. Jefferson, Ph.D. is a marine mammal biologist and director of Clymene Enterprises, in

Lakeside, California. He has been studying marine mammals around the world since 1983, and has traveled

widely in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australasia in pursuit of his work. His primary focus is on the population

biology and taxonomy of small cetaceans, and their effective conservation.

Affiliations and Expertise

Clymene Enterprises, Lakeside, CA, USA

Marc Webber

Marc A. Webber has studied marine mammals in the wild and captivity since 1977. He has traveled to the

Arctic, Antarctic, and many areas in between to study, photograph, and teach about marine mammals. He

has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1992 and at present is the Deputy Manager at Alaska

Maritime National Wildlife Refuge which is based in Homer, Alaska.

Affiliations and Expertise

Golden Gate Cetacean Research, Corte Madera, CA USA

Robert Pitman

Robert L. Pitman is a marine biologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California,

and has published extensively on marine birds and mammals. Since 1976 he has averaged 6 months a year

at sea on research vessels operating in all the world’s oceans. His current research interests include ecology

and systematics of killer whales in Antarctica and Australia.

Affiliations and Expertise

NOAA Fisheries, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA USA


"An excellent addition to the library of any wildlife disease professional, providing all the current information on basic species identification needed to identify, and have a basic understanding of, a marine mammal observed at sea or on the necropsy table. The guide is useful for students, biologists, managers, and veterinarians alike. It stands out from the many other smaller or older field guides to marine mammals currently available because of its breadth of information, its beautiful illustrations, and its carefully constructed dichotomous keys. I thoroughly recommend it to all marine mammal enthusiasts as a quintessential guide to species identification."

– Frances Gulland, Director, Marine Mammal Center; Review in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases

"This guide is the most comprehensive [among the competition] and, to my mind, the best. … I recommend this comprehensive and up-to-date guide to every budding as well as serious marine mammalogist."

– Bernd Wursig, Regents Professor and Chair of the Marine Biology Graduate Program,

Texas A&M University; Review in Aquatic Mammals

[T]ruly is a comprehensive guide to the identification of the world’s marine mammals. … [T]he authors compiled a unique combination of identification tools into a single volume: detailed species accounts, descriptive photographs, dichotomous keys, and trait comparison tables. … Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification is the one book that anyone seeking to identify the world’s marine mammals—dead or alive—should have on their shelf. … Most helpfully, the text … is supported by a generous number of high-quality illustrations and photographs that show the diagnostic physical and behavioral characteristics of each species from a variety of angles. … [T]he dichotomous keys and comparison tables in the back put this guide on a utilitarian plane above other guides. [It] will be a welcome addition to any library. The authors pooled their vast observational experience to provide its users a single identification guide that is both utilitarian and esthetically pleasing."

– Kate Wynne, Fisheries Technology Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks;

Review in Marine Mammal Science, published by the Society for Marine Mammalogy

Ratings and Reviews