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A detailed personal account, by a committed ally; of five summers spent observing killer whales off Canada's Pacific Coast. Hoyt started out on a commercial film project; but the ill-matched team broke up, the Hollywood producer/director went on to film captive whales for a TV movie called Jaws of Death, and Hoyt joined other orca watchers in a documentary pleading for a whale preserve. He learned early on that killer whales are neither vicious maneaters nor cute pandas-of-the-sea, but fellow creatures with whom many human observers have felt close bonds. His first awed interaction with whales came when several of them imitated, in harmony, the pre-recorded whale song he played for them on a synthesizer. Later, he and his colleagues came to know individual whales and to romp with a pair of young twins; and he tells of one buoyant celebration on a boat, with whales leaping and playing nearby: ""Either they crashed our party or we're crashing theirs."" A rare white whale is sighted, and a nursing calf observed at close range. Finally, Hoyt and a companion are tolerated at the whales' secret hangout, a cove where, natives reported, the rocks were worn smooth from centuries of whale rubbing--and where the two men are privileged to witness the exuberant communal sex and mating session they had previously been barred from. Now, with public indignation turned against capture of Puget Sound whales for the seaside entertainment business, Hoyt's efforts are directed toward saving the ""rubbing beach"" from logging companies. For similarly appreciative readers, a chance to share some close encounters in orca territory.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1981
Publisher: Dutton