Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us by David A. Neiwert

Review published on November 15, 2017.

Intelligence is not a trait solely linked to humans, it is present across the whole animal kingdom. Some of the mammals with the highest intellect are the cetaceans, in particular dolphins and killer whales. Better known as the orca, these beautiful creatures have been tormented and persecuted by us for a long time, but things are changing as we learn more about their amazing abilities. It was known that they travel around in small family pods, but it has only recently been discovered that there are several sub-species of orca. Each of these sub-species has developed their own language and culture, have astonishing echolocation and form lifelong bonds.

In the wild they are ruthless hunters, they have developed sophisticated hunting techniques for a particular prey. For example, orca in one part of the world will eat fish, they have a penchant for salmon and in other parts of the wild, they hunt seals, seabirds and even moose. Yet they are gentle and kind with there being almost no known incidents of people being killed in the wild. There have been a few deaths, but these have happened in places where they have been held captive. There is a large chapter on those orcas that have been taken from the wild and held in captivity; holding a creature as magnificent as this in a concrete tank is equally cruel and unnecessary.

This is a fascinating book on these awesome creatures. Neiwert clearly explains the latest research and explores the myths and legends associated with them, as well as information on the perilous state that they are in because of our scant concern for the environment. There are some heart-stopping and wondrous moments he has experienced with them whilst bobbing around in his kayak in the ocean near his home. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book on these stunning whales.

Paul Cheney 4/3

Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us by David A. Neiwert
Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd 9780715652213 pbk Aug 2017

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