Feb 19, 2010

The Moon by Whale Light

and Other Adventures among Bats, Penguins, Crocodiles and whales
by Diane Ackerman

In this delightful book, the author describes her travels to observe wildlife up close with some bat naturalists, alligator researchers, whale enthusiasts, and penguin biologists. She steps into bat caves, helps tie up alligators on muddy riverbanks (so the researchers can take blood samples) and stands awestruck in a protected cover where mother whales nurse their babies. I thought at first the penguin chapter would be a little disappointing, as it starts out in a penguin nursery at Sea World in San Diego but after the first few pages Ackerman takes the reader along on a cruise ship to view wildlife in Antarctica- not only penguins but also sea lions, leopard seals and myriads of birds. Every chapter is replete with personal experiences as well as interesting facts on the animals. The writing is lyrical and wonderfully descriptive; I felt sometimes like I was actually there, squatting among the penguin colonies, touching the textured alligator's skin, feeling the whale's breath on my face. I learned more about bats and alligators in this one book of essays than I ever did reading America's Neighborhood Bats or Alligators and Crocodiles- perhaps because the personal writing made the information more accessible to my brain- it sticks better when I'm enjoying it more. If you like nature writing, or are interested in any of the four animals highlighted here, I highly recommend this book. It doesn't get much better than The Moon by Whale Light.

I acquired my copy from a library sale.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 249 pages, 1991


Fyrefly said...

That's great to hear - I have this one, as well as a variety of Ackerman's other works, on my TBR pile already. I love nature writing when its done well, so hopefully this will be a good fit for me too.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fascinating book, enjoyable and educational.

Bybee said...

Yay, another winner!

Jenny said...

Sounds great! Especially the bat narualists - I think bats are so cool but I've never seen one.

Jeane said...

There is a bat in our neighborhood- it flies back and forth over the yard in the evening sometimes. I love seeing it! (hoping it eats all the mosquitoes)