Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson

Spying on Whales

The Smithsonian's star paleontologist takes us to the ends of the earth and to the cutting edge of whale researchWhales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-like creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 years and roam entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection--yet we kn...

Details Spying on Whales

TitleSpying on Whales
Release DateJun 26th, 2018
GenreNonfiction, Science, Animals, Environment, Nature, History

Reviews Spying on Whales

  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    Spying on Whales is a beautifully written introduction to the immersive world of whales. From their ancestry to their future, the beauty and evolution of these magnificent creatures as well as their adaptability, influence and importance to their and other ecosystems is explored in easy terms anyone can understand. This is the endeavor of Nick Pyenson, a paleontologist and curator at the Smithsonian Institute, who shares his passion for whales an...
  • Jenna
    I was really excited when I saw and read about this book. Whales are such majestic and mysterious creatures and I thought it would be a fascinating read. Unfortunately, no. Spying on Whales was actually quite dull and boring. How is that even possible for a book on WHALES ?? This book was all over the place rather than written in any type of linear fashion. It jumped from paleontology to whaling expeditions to stories about scientists to the evo...
  • Juli
    I've always had a fascination with whales, dolphins and other mammals that live in the sea. I think maybe it's because they are so like us, and yet so different at the same time. When I saw this book written by a Smithsonian paleontologist, I knew I had to read all about the past, present and future of whales. I'm glad I did -- this book is fascinating!Nick Pyenson shares so many facts about whales...species that still swim in our oceans and ones...
  • Mary Carrasco
    When I think about whales, I get excited. What amazing, majestic HUGE creatures! They hold a very symbolic meaning for me and so I couldn't wait to get this book. The book itself is still fascinating but exciting? Not so much. Written by a scientist, it reads a bit like a science book. Nick Pyenson was extremely thorough in laying out the evolution of whales. I'm sorry to say it wasn't enough to keep my attention for long periods of time. I'm sti...
  • Peter Tillman
    First-rate popular-science book, the best I’ve read in 2018. Highly recommended, if you are interested in whales, marine biology and/or paleontology. If, like me, you like all three — don’t miss! 4.5 stars.The author, a paleontologist, is Curator of Marine Mammal Fossils at the Smithsonian, a whale-family enthusiast, and a fine writer. I almost always prefer pop-science written by active scientists. Even better if they are doing field work,...
  • Cher
    4 stars - It was great. I loved it. Did you know that whales used to walk on land before returning to the water?Oh the rabbit holes this book led me down….googled until my googler was sore. Easy to read (not dry at all) with fascinating tidbits. I love that the author makes you aware of what has been done by humans, along with what might happen due to humans (pros and cons), without being preachy or condescending. ------------------------------...
  • Steve Nolan
    I think having read "The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs" right before reading this really soured this one for me - there was more paleontology in this book than there was in the dino book.
  • Nikki
    Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.Pyenson is clearly obsessed with whales — with the idea of them, with studying them, with understanding them and sharing that understanding. In this volume, he does his best to share all those things: his enthusiasm for whales as much as his academic interest, his wonder at them as much as his understanding of them as part of their environment. He tours through whales of the past through their fossils (so if you...
  • Alicia
    With a glut of science books focused on humans’ curiosity with the animal world, I am in awe. The ocean is just one big ball is amazingness that has yet to really be explored because it tests our limits, so it wasn’t hard to read this book when a Smithsonian scientist wanted to talk whales. And the title just was icing on the cake. Yes, that’s all humans are really doing- spying. Because we can’t do anything else at those depths and with ...
  • Emily
    2.5 stars. How can a book about whales be boring? Well, this guy manages it quite well. I feel like the book I listened to is not the book advertised in the blurb. There's way too much background about the author. I don't care about him. I just wanted to learn about whales. The subject matter jumps around a lot and I just found that my attention wandered all the time.
  • Stephanie
    SPYING ON WHALES: Teaching the Heart of Sciencehttp://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201...The author and whale paleobiologist provides a fascinating look at the when and what of his work.I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.At the heart of this book is the young man, the boy, whose curiosity led him to become a paleobiologist. Dr. Pyens...
  • Shelley
    Maybe a 3.5, but this book teetered between more exciting descriptions of expeditions the author had been on to sections which were pretty dry and academic. If you are interested in whales, especially Orca, read Carl Safina's books. His intensity and beautiful writing made this book suffer by comparison IMHO.When I first started the book I saw the three main sections, past, present, and future and thought this would be organized as such, but it s...
  • Dustin Rottier
    Won this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Viking books. This is a relatively quick, easy read packed with scientific data and anecdotes. Author is a paleontologist and rightfully includes his expertise to help explain the natural history of whales and highlight many of the questions still not 100% understood about these marine giants. I love that the author shows how a scientist works through a problem through what may be taught as the scientifi...
  • Edward Canade
    I liked it. I like whales and I felt like I learned some about their evolution, habits and and the effects of whaling and climate change on their chances for survival. Nick Pension intentionally wrote in a style any layperson can understand. The author shares his personal experiences in his quest to learn about whales from direct interactions with both living and fossils of Cetaceans. Not only are some whales the largest beings to ever roam the e...
  • Caitlin
    Fascinating, easy read about these majestic animals. I found the evolutionary history and the author’s guesses as to where the different species of whales may lead to be the most interesting aspects of the book. Worth the read.
  • jedioffsidetrap
    Fascinating, comprehensive & fun. The paleontology angle was new to me and added depth (pun intended ;-)) to the subject. The bit on dissecting whales at a whaling station in Iceland was especially fascinating!
  • Alyssa Swink
    DNF. Very interesting, but I need to be in a different state of mind to read it. Hopefully I can finish it in the future.
  • Awallens
    This book was very dry in places and I found the writing a bit scattered going from one thing to another. I wish it had been a little more linear.
  • Debbie
    I finished reading “Spying on Whales” by Nick Pyeson. I found it to be an informative book on everything whales. I learned quite a few new things about whales. Beautiful animals!
  • Natalie Keating
    This book is SO good! I have always been interested in whales and paleontologist Nick Pyenson definitely has a deep and abiding love for them that comes through in this book. He divides the book into three sections—past, present, and future—and writes eloquently about whales. Ancient whales that were fossilized, whales whose populations were decimated by whaling, and what the future may bring for whales in a world populated by more and more h...
  • Melissa McGuire
    Since i was little I always was so intrigued about whales. This book lived up to what I was expecting and I learned quite a fee new things.
  • Allen Adams
    http://www.themaineedge.com/tekk/spyi...Writing about science in a manner that is entertaining and accessible while also conveying the desired information with clarity and concision – not an easy task by any means. Finding the proper balance of wonky jargon and narrative engagement requires a backwards-and-forwards depth of knowledge about the subject matter AND significant storytelling acumen. It’s a shot at harmony while dodging discord.In ...
  • Dre McDermott
    This was very encyclopedia-ish and full of really fascinating information. I was hoping for more of a narrative but still incredibly readable for this genre.
  • princesspwny
    I wanted very much to enjoy this book, but it was dry and poorly focused. The emphasis was on personal experiences and the paleontology/taxonomy, without strongly addressing the compelling questions in the jacket blurb. Although there are some illustrations, they are overly simplistic and seemed to be decorative and not informative. The notes section is good and provides interesting references and additional resources.
  • Becky Stanley
    Lots of information about whale evolution, although it was a little dry for my taste. I was hoping to learn more about behaviors and family structure so I had expectations going into this book which probably colored my experience a bit. I definitely walked away with some new information, though!I received a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for my honest review.
  • EC2151
    Be aware that the book is mostly interested in facets of whale biology and fossilized whale bones. Vignettes and anecdotes about discovering whale fossils etc. fill out the tract. There is time given to discussing the process of tagging whales, how whales evolved to meet various different environmental challenges, and a final section on how whales can survive (or not) in the modern age.The text is rendered in a readable and approachable format. T...
  • Jim Razinha
    I grew up very close to Mystic, Connecticut, a historic 19th century whaling port. It’s a sad association, though I was fascinated with its history, and the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan moored at the museum. As I grew more aware in my teen years (do note, long before an internet), the horror of what humans did in decimating whale populations scarred my intellect forever. This book speaks to my heart. And at times, tears it. Especially when Py...
  • Ben Wright
    A breezy, yet enjoyable survey of what makes cetaceans special. As an amateur whale enthusiast I didn't learn anything especially novel, but appreciated Pyenson's prose for trying to be a more than a fossil-dry overview of his specialty. Recommend if you're curious about whales, especially their history.
  • Jessie
    Imperfect, uneven, sometimes very dry -- but this kindled my desire to learn more about its subject more than just about any other book I can recall, which means it gets four stars.
  • Fraser Kinnear
    Pretty fun work of naturalism.Random stuff I picked up:- Humpback whale songs are constantly evolving, and based looping through common themes, not unlike our own music- There’s more biomass of krill than any other animal on earth- On his voyage of the Beagle, Darwin spent 2 years in Chile vs only a few weeks in the Galapagos- Shallow ocean waters are fertilized with nitrogen and phosphorus that accumulates in the deep via a process called Upwe...