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Drawing on interviews, official records, private archives, and his own family history, Jason M. Colby tells the exhilarating and often heartbreaking story of how people came to love the ocean’s greatest predator.
Historically reviled as dangerous pests, killer whales were dying by the hundreds, even thousands, by the 1950s — the victims of whalers, fishermen, and even the US military. In the Pacific Northwest, fishermen shot them, scientists harpooned them, and the Canadian government mounted a machine gun to eliminate them. But that all changed in 1965, when Seattle entrepreneur Ted Griffin became the first person to swim and perform with a captive killer whale. The show proved wildly popular, and he began capturing and selling others, including Sea World’s first Shamu.
Over the following decade, live display transformed views of Orcinus orca. The public embraced killer whales as charismatic and friendly, while scientists enjoyed their first access to live orcas. Yet even as Northwesterners taught the world to love whales, they came to oppose their captivity and to fight for the freedom of a marine predator that had become a regional icon.
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