This is a great read. I didn't know what I would be getting into when I opened this book. But once I started reading it, I was absolutely intrigued. The main theme describes the attempt to kill a "killer whale" in 1964, in order to use it as a model for an aquarium sculpture. However, the whale was injured and thereafter begain the fascinating saga of how the whale was rescued, nourished, and protected in order to now present a captive living example of the whale named "Moby Doll". There was extraordinary cooperation with several government, private, volunteer, and conservation agencies. Quite unusual. The obsessive devotion of several scientistist including Murray Newman, Pat McGeer the medical neuroscientist, and others was exceptional. The process led to further capture of whales, who were later appreciated as orcas, not killers and then to the debate and evolution as to whether these intelligent mammalian creatures should actually be held in captivity. Moby Doll, the whale, and all the activities around it, did change how the western world approached and managed whales. The book clearly outlines why there was a change in public and scientific thought on the intelligence, behaviour, and human interactions with these beautiful mammals I couldn't put the book down. It is a smooth read for the cottage, winter vacation, or just at the fireside. I enjoyed it. .
The history of how one young whale, Moby Doll, affected those involved with its capture off Saturna Island in British Columbia in 1964 is a fascinating read. The way Orcas were perceived prior to this event is in marked contrast to today. I loved all the characters the author introduces us to in his tale of this time and the years that followed. Amazing the impact this mammal had on the course of history.
I live in Vancouver and I can remember when they caught this Orca. We had no idea of where it would lead us, and the title of the book is not overreaching. It did change how we think of these amazing whales, but it also encouraged the incarceration of them as circus performers.
Loved the history about Moby Doll and how his capture holds meaning to survival and death of orcas. I didn't know much about Newman and his history with the Vancouver aquarium, a place that was a part of my childhood-Skana. I m obsessed with orcas especially the northern residents....I learned a lot from other orca ambassadors such as Alexandra Morton (you must read her book and wished it was mentioned in this one) .....Orca Lab !!!!! Yay Spong. Anyways...miigwetch Moby for your spirit still inspires us all!
Mark Leiren-Young taught a class I was enrolled at in Victoria, BC, and when I found out he published a book on killer whales I picked up a copy and read it. I've never been a person who cared about the environment, or where my food comes from, or what's happening out in the ocean. I've never cared much about what's happening in my own community, really. But there was a scene in this book that really humanizes the animals I'd only ever known as the new logo to the Vancouver Canucks that I didn't like as much as the old one. I don't want to spoil the scene, but for those who read the book it's the part involving the bridge.
This book will inspire ideas in you that you never had before. Unless you're already as passionate as Mark, in which case it will reinforce that passion and push you to fight harder for what you care about. The Killer Whale Who Changed the World will change your world, so be ready for it when you start reading.
When I was researching my book Orca: The Whale Called Killer, I remember being astonished to uncover the Moby Doll story in clippings at the Vancouver Public Library. By the 1970s when I started spending summers with wild orcas, our conception of orcas was changing. Now, as Mark Leiren-Young argues in the wisdom of time, this event really was the turning point for the change in the way we think about orcas. This is when the public view of them started turning from killer whales to orcas, from dangerous predators to social mammals. Bit by bit, orcas revealed their personalities and then came revelations about their culture—the way they pass along their dialects, feeding techniques, beach rubbing and so on. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Moby Doll, it is great to have this refreshingly told account, seen through the lens of accomplished writer and film maker Mark Leiren-Young, and nicely published by Greystone Books with the David Suzuki Institute. Watch out for Mark's upcoming feature documentary on Moby Doll!
An incredible thing about Mark Leiren-Young's powerful recounting of the tale of Moby Doll is the number of decades it took after this EPIC thing happened until the full story appeared in book form! Reminded of when I read John Vaillant's wonderful The Golden Spruce many years ago: it happened in our BC backyard, and it changed the way we look at nature -- and human nature. It's impossible not to be inspired by The Killer Whale Who Changed the World to want to take care of, and fight for, all the miracles that swim in our oceans.