Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us
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A celebrated journalist’s eye-opening history of orcas, and an exploration of their relationship with human beings--a must-read for anyone who's ever been moved by these remarkable creatures
Orcas are one of earth’s most intelligent animals. Benign and gentle, with their own languages and cultures, orcas’ amazing capacity for long-term memory and, arguably, compassion, makes the ugly story of the captive-orca industry especially damning.
In Of Orcas and Men, a marvelously compelling mix of cultural history, environmental reporting, and scientific research, David Neiwert explores how this extraordinary species has come to capture our imaginations―and the catastrophic environmental consequences of that appeal.
In the tradition of Barry Lopez’s classic Of Wolves and Men, David Neiwert’s book is a powerful tribute to one of the animal kingdom’s most remarkable members.
30 b&w illustrations throughout
San Juan Islands, and Vancouver Island’s interior northern coast. The San Juan Islands are reachable by ferry from Anacortes, a city about 90 minutes’ drive north of Seattle. The ferry ride to San Juan Island, where most of the whale-watching activity occurs, takes about an hour. Friday Harbor has full accommodations for visitors, as does Eastsound on Orcas Island (another whale-watch departure point). In addition to the boat-based tours, discussed in Chapter Seven, that leave frequently from
Story of an Orca Named Luna. New York: St. Martins Press, 2013. Perrin, William F., Wursig, Bernd, and Thewissen, J.G.M., eds. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. London: Academic Press, 2009. Pryor, Karen, and Norris, Kenneth, eds. Dolphin Societies: Discoveries and Puzzles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Reid, Bill, and Bringhurst, Rober. The Raven Steals the Light. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996. Robertson, Dougal. Survive the Savage Sea. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.:
this Rosetta Stone for communications with orcas and dolphins, and everything we do applies some human-centered criteria—only because that’s really all we know, it’s all we can do. When, in fact, if the principles they use for communication are outside of our own type of system, it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible for us to understand with what we would call ‘the code.’ And so that’s going to be very, very, very hard.” CHAPTER Three The Connected Life I AM PRETTY CERTAIN THAT
pods, orcas were heard making their stereotyped calls to one another. “Mimicking another group’s calls could be a way of referring to that group … or of communicating something about that group to one’s own family members,” said behavioral biologist Brigitte Weiss, who conducted the study, noting that it’s just as possible that these calls have no function at all. “Most likely, the answer lies somewhere in between.” • • • Perhaps the most striking case of orcas’ sound mimicry capacities
87 days in captivity. The killer whale created such a media sensation, however, that now the demand from aquarium owners became real. When two fishermen using purse-seine gillnets near the village of Namu, about 100 miles north of Vancouver Island along the British Columbia coast, accidentally netted a large male orca, they decided not to let it go, as they normally might. They had heard the stories of big money for such a catch. The men contacted Ted Griffin, proprietor of the Seattle