The image most of us have of whalers includes harpoons and intentional trauma. Yet eating commercially caught seafood leads to whales ' entanglement and slow death in rope and nets, and the global shipping routes that bring us readily available goods often lead to death by collision. We – all of us – are whalers, marine scientist and veterinarian Michael J. Moore contends. But we do not have to be.
Drawing on over forty years of fieldwork with humpback, pilot, fin, and in particular, North Atlantic right whales – a species whose population has declined more than twenty percent since 2017 – Moore takes us with him as he performs whale necropsies on animals stranded on beaches, in his independent research alongside whalers using explosive harpoons, and as he tracks injured whales to deliver sedatives. The whales' plight is a complex, confounding, and disturbing one. We learn of existing but poorly enforced conservation laws and of perennial (and often failed) efforts to balance the push for fisheries profit versus the protection of endangered species caught by accident.
But despite these challenges, Moore's tale is an optimistic one. He shows us how technologies for rope-less fishing and the acoustic tracking of whale migrations make a dramatic difference. And he looks ahead with hope as our growing understanding of these extraordinary creatures fuels an ever-stronger drive for change.
1 Young Man, There Are No Whales Left
2 The First Whale I Had Ever Seen
3 Whaling with Intent
4 The Bowhead Is More than Food
5 Whaling by Accident
6 Treating Whales
7 Our Skinny Friend
8 Taking the Long View: Why Can’t We Let Right Whales Die of Old Age?
Postscript 1: Getting Really Cold
Postscript 2: A Lonely Tunnel with No Light at the End
"This is a truly compelling, captivating, and in places heart-wrenching story of one scientist's journey through a career dealing with a highly endangered species whose very predicament is our fault and whose recovery is also our responsibility, as bycatch is preventable. The power lies with the reader. We are all consumers and hence all culpable in the environmental costs of fish products and goods and services transported at sea. Coexistence is possible, perhaps within our lifetime, and Moore's book lays the foundation for work yet to come on how to make that coexistence a reality."
– Moira Brown, Canadian Whale Institute