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Not many years ago, killer whales had a reputation that was even fiercer than their name. But in 1964 the Vancouver Aquarium obtained its first killer whale, Moby Doll, and for the first time the public got a personal look at one of these much-feared marine mammals. It was soon discovered that they were not the vicious man-eaters of legend. Attitudes began to change and today they are revered as loveable, intelligent creatures, iconic symbols of the marine environment.
In January 2002, a young killer whale was discovered alone in the waters of Puget Sound near Seattle. Determining that the whale would not survive alone so far from home, a team of scientists captured 'Springer' and transported her by boat north to her home range where she rejoined her family. At the same time Springer was making her historic journey, another lone whale turned up in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The people of Nootka Sound adopted 'Luna' as their own, but he was a large, boisterous youngster who liked to cuddle boats and the government feared he would get into trouble. Another rescue was planned to return Luna to his family but this time there was no happy ending.
In Operation Orca, award-winning author Daniel Francis gives breadth to the complications, contradictions, and political posturing that twice engulfed the debate of whether to interfere or let nature take its course. Through the amazing story of these two 'orphan' whales, "Operation Orca" tells the larger story of orcas in the Pacific Northwest, the people who have studied them and the transformation of the whale's image from killer to icon.