KILLER WHALES by Seymour Simon


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Simon begins with a disingenuous attention-getter, opposing Antarctic explorer Scott's 1911 report of the terrific, ferocious, and bloodthirsty killer whale with more recent assertions by Cousteau and others of their tolerance, friendliness, affection, and intelligence. The ensuing ""careful examination"" of the killer whale's true nature touches lightly on whale taxonomy and evolution, then concentrates on what is known of the killer: observations of their stomach contents, experimental evidence of their sonar system and other forms of communication, social behavior of the pod, their voracious eating habits (though they may consume only the tongues of the blue whales they gang up on, the blue's tongue alone weighs over 6,000 pounds). As for stories of killers attacking humans, mistaken identity is the explanation: experts are agreed that it was sharks who chewed up all those boats, while the poorly sighted whales who ""endangered"" men on Antarctic ice floes were really after seals and penguins. That settled, Simon reports on the gentle Moby Doll and his successors at the Vancouver Aquarium and concludes that ""the bloodthirsty killer whale is just a product of our own bloodthirsty imaginations."" A bit sensationalized (even though the sensations are later discredited) and overdrawn, but Simon certainly makes his point, Illus. with photos.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1978
ISBN: 1587171422
Publisher: Lippincott