Eye of the Whale

Eye of the Whale

Epic Passage From Baja to Siberia

Book - 2001
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
Chronicles the existence of the gray whale, exploring its history and migration, the people who have devoted their lives to studying it, the native peoples who continue to hunt it, and the controversies surrounding this enormous mammal.

Baker
& Taylor

An intricately woven tapestry of nature and humankind chronicles the existence of the gray whale, which was originally named "Devil-fish" by nineteenth-century whalers, exploring its history, migration, the people who have devoted their lives to studying this creature, the native peoples who continue to hunt it, and the controversies surrounding this enormous mammal. 25,000 first printing.

Simon and Schuster

Inches below the surface, [the whales] appear not so much gray as whitish blue. The immensity of these creatures is overwhelming. Fully grown they reach at least thirty-five feet in length and weigh more than thirty tons -- ten times the size of a large elephant. The mother dwarfs our little boat. The calf is nearly one-third her size. With a mere flick of the tail, either whale could overturn us.


Eye of the Whale focuses on one great whale in particular -- the coastal-traveling California gray whale. Gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal -- from the lagoons of Baja California to the feeding grounds of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia (nearly 6,000 miles). That the gray whale exists today is nothing short of miraculous. Whaling fleets twice massacred the species to near extinction -- first during the nineteenth century and again during the early part of the twentieth century. As they moved in for the kill, whalers claimed their prey by naming it: "Hard-Head"; "Devil-fish"; "sea-serpent crossed with an alligator."

These ominous tags suggest a fearsome creature, yet today the grays are most commonly known as the friendly whale, the species that inspired the whale-watching industry. Eye of the Whale shows the life-changing effect the gray whale has had upon people past and present -- whalers, hunters, marine scientists, whale watchers, and even businessmen -- who have looked into the eye of a whale and have come away transformed. Over the course of this astonishing book, the gray whale emerges as a millennial metaphor, mirroring a host of ecological, political, and social issues concerning our relationship to nature.

The book also traces the remarkable story of Charles Melville Scammon, the whaling captain responsible for bringing gray whales to the brink of extinction after discovering the Baja lagoons in the 1850s to 1860s. Paradoxically, he went on to become one of the most renowned naturalist writers of his time, and in 1874 authored and illustrated a still-definitive work, The Marine Mammals of the North-Western Coast of North America.

More than a hundred years later, author Dick Russell sets out to track the migration of the gray whale and to retrace Scammon's own path. This epic journey stretches from Mexico to California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver Island, Alaska, and into Siberia and even remote Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. In these exotic locales seethe the current controversies surrounding the gray whale: an effort by Mitsubishi and the Mexican government to build a massive new salt factory within its pristine nursery area; the Makah tribe's renewed hunting of gray whales after a hiatus of seventy years; Japan's recruitment of the Makah and other indigenous peoples in their quest to resurrect commercial whaling.

Eye of the Whale is a stunning work of scientific reporting and travel writing that greatly advances our understanding not only of the gray whale but of the natural world. While it may be impossible to know for certain the fate of this majestic creature, with Russell's sage guidance we may glimpse it -- in the eye of the whale.

Inches below the surface, [the whales] appear not so much gray as whitish blue. The immensity of these creatures is overwhelming. Fully grown they reach at least thirty-five feet in length and weigh more than thirty tons -- ten times the size of a large elephant. The mother dwarfs our little boat. The calf is nearly one-third her size. With a mere flick of the tail, either whale could overturn us.


Eye of the Whale focuses on one great whale in particular -- the coastal-traveling California gray whale. Gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal -- from the lagoons of Baja California to the feeding grounds of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia (nearly 6,000 miles). That the gray whale exists today is nothing short of miraculous. Whaling fleets twice massacred the species to near extinction -- first during the nineteenth century and again during the early part of the twentieth century. As they moved in for the kill, whalers claimed their prey by naming it: "Hard-Head"; "Devil-fish"; "sea-serpent crossed with an alligator."

These ominous tags suggest a fearsome creature, yet today the grays are most commonly known as the friendly whale, the species that inspired the whale-watching industry. Eye of the Whale shows the life-changing effect the gray whale has had upon people past and present -- whalers, hunters, marine scientists, whale watchers, and even businessmen -- who have looked into the eye of a whale and have come away transformed. Over the course of this astonishing book, the gray whale emerges as a millennial metaphor, mirroring a host of ecological, political, and social issues concerning our relationship to nature.

The book also traces the remarkable story of Charles Melville Scammon, the whaling captain responsible for bringing gray whales to the brink of extinction after discovering the Baja lagoons in the 1850s to 1860s. Paradoxically, he went on to become one of the most renowned naturalist writers of his time, and in 1874 authored and illustrated a still-definitive work, The Marine Mammals of the North-Western Coast of North America.

More than a hundred years later, author Dick Russell sets out to track the migration of the gray whale and to retrace Scammon's own path. This epic journey stretches from Mexico to California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver Island, Alaska, and into Siberia and even remote Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. In these exotic locales seethe the current controversies surrounding the gray whale: an effort by Mitsubishi and the Mexican government to build a massive new salt factory within its pristine nursery area; the Makah tribe's renewed hunting of gray whales after a hiatus of seventy years; Japan's recruitment of the Makah and other indigenous peoples in their quest to resurrect commercial whaling.

Eye of the Whale is a stunning work of scientific reporting and travel writing that greatly advances our understanding not only of the gray whale but of the natural world. While it may be impossible to know for certain the fate of this majestic creature, with Russell's sage guidance we may glimpse it -- in the eye of the whale.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2001
ISBN: 9780684866086
0684866080
Characteristics: 688 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at SSFPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top