War of the Whales is a must read!

by Carolyn Kraft on 08/10/2014

War of the Whales book cover

War of the Whales” is a must read! This is one ocean journey that everyone should take, and that’s the beauty of reading…you can traverse the depths of the ocean and the hallways of the Supreme Court all without leaving the comforts of your living room.

The story centers around marine biologist Ken Balcomb and NRDC attorney Joel Reynolds as they fight to save whales from navy sonar. For me, getting to know these men over the course of 355 pages was what truly made the book great.

Both Balcomb and Reynolds gave author Joshua Horwitz full access to their personal lives and relationships (both past and present), which to me is an even greater act of courage than taking on the U.S. Navy. Everyone has details about their lives that they would prefer to keep contained within a small circle of friends and family and certainly not thousands of people reading a book.

But taking the risk of sharing their stories, makes perfect sense once you get to know them. Balcomb and Reynolds have dedicated their lives to pursuing their respective passions of studying whales and protecting the environment, both at great personal costs.

In addition to getting to know two ocean heroes, you will learn a great deal about the politics of whale research (many scientists are funded by the Office of Naval Research), the challenges of confronting the navy in court during times of war, the way sonar travels through the deep ocean, and the biology of whales and dolphins that puts them at great risk for acoustic trauma. In particular, you will have the chance to learn more about beaked whales, fascinating creatures that spend much of their lives diving in the deep oceans.

On top of that, “War of the Whales” reads like a thriller from beginning to end. Horwitz meticulously researched this book over the course of six years and in the process captured many of the events as they were happening. He is an excellent writer and master story teller, which makes the book not only informative, but a pleasure to read.

So if you still haven’t, dive in and read this book because navy sonar is an ongoing issue and understanding the back story is key to understanding where things stand today. It’s a must read for everyone who cares about the ocean and some of its most mysterious and magical beings…whales.

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Summer Reading: War of the Whales

by Carolyn Kraft on 07/13/2014

War of the Whales book cover

It’s that time of year when bookstores everywhere showcase “summer reading” options. But take a pass on the books touted as easy reading and pick up “War of the Whales” by Joshua Horwitz instead. Just released on July 1, 2014 by Simon & Schuster, this book takes you behind-the-scenes during the battle to protect whales from Navy sonar.

The book opens with marine biologist Ken Balcomb giving an orientation to Earthwatch Institute volunteers who have just arrived on Abaco Island in the Bahamas to help with a photo-identification survey of beaked whales. As Balcomb is managing volunteers’ expectations about whale sightings and fielding questions about sharks, suddenly his research assistant rushes in and announces, “There’s a whale on the beach.”

Everyone runs out to discover a Cuvier’s beaked whale stranded and alive. That’s where the story takes off as Balcomb and his volunteers race to save whales and dolphins during “the largest multispecies whale stranding ever recorded.”

I’m 50 pages in and hooked! It’s a great nonfiction book about saving whales that is incredibly well-written and reads like a mystery. Horwitz is a master of creative nonfiction, the art of conveying factually accurate information using literary styles and techniques. From page one, Horwitz sets the scene in a way that makes you feel like you’re there with Balcomb and the volunteers as they frantically try to save whales while fending off sharks.

Horwitz also provides the perfect amount of background information on science, beaked whales and whale research to help the reader be informed without feeling overwhelmed by statistics and facts. And for those craving for more information, there’s a detailed list of endnotes at the back of the book for each chapter.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book and getting a much better understanding of Navy sonar use and how its killing whales. Some of the story will most likely be infuriating, but knowing the truth is better than not knowing. So join me in becoming informed and dive into “War of the Whales!”

(Stay tuned for another post once I’ve finished the book, but so far it’s a great read and I wanted to get something up right away. Also, check out the video below to learn more about the book and hear from author Joshua Horwitz on what inspired him to write “War of the Whales.”)

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Honor July 4th throughout the year by saying something

July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July! This day is all about celebrating independence, democracy and freedom. But what is the point of celebrating these gifts every July if we don’t make the most of them during the rest of the year? This has been the question on my mind since I attended the Pacific Fisheries Management Council […]

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A trashy start to July

July 1, 2014

July started with trash on the streets. In my Los Angeles neighborhood, it’s common practice for people to leave flyers on car windshields. Alas, this advertising method leads to trash everywhere: on the street, sidewalks, driveways and grassy areas. Flyers end up on the ground in a variety of ways. Sometimes the wind catches them, […]

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Pink the brown pelican flies free!

June 5, 2014

Hooray, Pink the formerly mutilated brown pelican was released on Tuesday, June 3rd, and flew back to his pelican compatriots in the wild! Before being released, he was banded with a blue band printed with V70 on it, this is to help identify him in the wild as part of International Bird Rescue’s Blue-Banded Pelican […]

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Update on Pink the mutilated brown pelican

May 31, 2014

Great news, Pink the brown pelican has fully recovered from a severe mutilated pouch wound! After two operations that lasted a total of six hours and involved hundreds of stitches, it’s almost impossible to see the scar and Pink looks good as new (see photo). “Over the course of treatment, I’ve seen Pink transform from […]

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