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THE HUNTING OF THE WHALE <i> by Jeremy Cherfas (Penguin: $8.95, illustrated) </i>

The most interesting chapters in this well-intentioned but long-winded denunciation of the whaling industry deal with cetacean biology. Jeremy Cherfas notes that intelligence in whales is almost certainly restricted to the toothed whales, which are carnivorous and highly organized socially; for all their majesty, baleen whales are little more than gigantic plankton-eating devices.

Cherfas recounts the devious, behind-the-scenes machinations that occur at the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission in far too much detail: Summaries would be both more useful and more interesting. However, it becomes depressingly evident that despite bans, protests and legislation, whales continue to be slaughtered to satisfy the Japanese market for their meat and oil. Moreover, the United States government repeatedly has refused to invoke the penalties enacted by Congress against nations that continue to consume products made from the few remaining whales.


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