CRY OF THE SEALS by Jeremy Lucas


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An adventure/polemic about the hunting of harp seals on the ice off Newfoundland--as a small British scientific expedition ends up in hunter-vs.-scientist violence. Lucas' narrator is English biologist Jamie, who has gotten permission to lead the first non-Canadian research team into the western Atlantic drift ice. His fellow scientists will be wife Sarah (secretly pregnant) and young grad-student Bob. Their transport will be a wooden trawler, the October Spray, captained by Scottish veteran Peter Sutherland with assistance from burly deckhand lain. And their guide through the ice will be old seal-hunter Murdoch Campbell, Jamie's hermit-like mentor/crony--who, guilt-ridden about his hunting days, must be dried out from an alcoholic binge on the transatlantic crossing. Once in Newfoundland, Jamie and Sarah travel by land while the others go around to meet them with the ship. The journeys are uneventful, though stocked with heavy foreshadowing (""And deep inside I can hear the beginnings of a primordial scream, one that will build throughout these pages. . . ."") Eventually, then, the team, reunited on the trawler, sails into the ice, locates a herd of seals (in a non-hunting area), and lovingly examines the animals--quickly finding evidence of ""a zoological catastrophe"" caused by indiscriminate culling. And when the researchers are soon ordered to leave, they realize that these very seals (whom they've come to love) are about to be savagely hunted--so they refuse to leave, attempt to interfere with the culling . . .and suffer two human casualties in the ensuing conflict. A small, obvious message-tale, with all the action bunched up at the end and heart-on-sleeve sentiments throughout--but the zoological detail, the trawler technicalities, and the finely sketched scenery all help to fill out Lucas' predictable save-the-seals outline

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1984
Publisher: Macmillan