Communicating with Orcas: The Whales' Perspective

Mary J. Getten, Author . Hampton Roads $15.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-57174-466-1

In an early scene that sets the tone for this unconvincing book, the author describes a group of whale-watching students who hold hands and send "rays of love to the orcas." Getten (The Orca Pocket Guide ) claims that she talks to whales using telepathic animal communication and that she and a friend spent a year interviewing wild and captive orcas (known as killer whales), including a matriarch she calls Granny, who lives in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, and Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy . Getten uses these "conversations" to convey factual information about whales: the sounds they use to communicate with each other, their lives in extended family groups, their feeding and sex habits, and the effects ocean pollution is having on them. But Getten does the whales a disservice by anthropomorphizing them: she loses the reader completely when Granny makes statements about whale spirituality and the meaning of life, and advises her human friends to tune in with nature and end war. A more satisfactory account of the extraordinary lives of whales and their relationship to humans is Douglas Chadwick's The Grandest of Lives: Eye to Eye with Whales (Reviews, Apr. 10). B&w photos. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 07/01/2006
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Paperback - 229 pages - 978-1-55369-834-0
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