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Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us Hardcover – 1 Apr 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345437942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345437945
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 509,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[Morton's] descriptions of [the whales'] lives and their haunting underwater communications are so vivid that they will remain with you long after you have read the last eloquent page."
--JANE GOODALL
"[A] WARM, ENERGETIC MEMOIR . . . An engaging tale of a woman's commitment to science and a life well lived."
--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
"AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK ABOUT AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN. . . . This is a species that has learned to live in tolerance with each other, and to share in the resources of their world so that all can survive. Would that our species could learn to do the same."
"--Hamilton Spectator
""A PASSIONATE MEMOIR BY A TRUE FIELD BIOLOGIST."
"--Natural History
""FASCINATING . . .
[Morton's] writing reflects a deep respect for whales in general and killer whales in particular. The reader will find her regard contagious."
"--Richmond Times-Dispatch
""This book will immerse you in a magical underwater world. It will bring you face to face with some of the most intelligent and mysterious creatures on earth. Alexandra Morton is a meticulous scientist, but she is not afraid to let her love for the whales illuminate her writing, nor her distress and anger at the harm we are inflicting on their world."
--JANE GOODALL
"One of the world's premier orca researchers . . . Morton has emerged as a champion for the welfare of whales and the preservation of their habitat. "Listening to Whales" is an unusual and involving tale of a life committed to interspecies communication."
"--The Olympian
""[Morton] is field scientist in the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. . . . Readers will be impressed by the physical hardships of field work, the moving account of the death of her marine photographer husband in a diving mishap, and her stories of rearing her children on shipboard and in an isolated coastal community."
"--Library Journal
"
"Morton's descriptions of individual orca movements, and how each relates to the species as a whole, course alongside her passionate defense of the ecological balance of the region; she infuses both with just the right amount of personal reflection."
--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
"Moments of quiet triumph illuminate this absorbing tale."
"--Christian Science Monitor
" (Selected as One of the Best Books of 2002)
"ABSORBING, MOVING . . .
[Morton's] book gives us invaluable insight into complex, wonderful creatures. It's an eloquent testament to one woman's efforts at interspecies communication."
"--The Calgary Sun
""Lyrical . . . Hopeful . . . "Listening to Whales" is a fascinating journey into the heart of a research scientist captivated by these magnificent creatures."
--"Miami Herald
""Leaves one questioning what we have done to our water-based, spy-hopping, family-loving cohabitants of this planet--and if we have not in the process diminished ourselves."
--"The Georgia Straight" magazine
"Remarkable . . . An extraordinary tale . . . Fascinating reading . . . Full of both poignant and distressing moments . . . One of the chief pleasures of her book is the straightforward quality of her prose; one finds oneself halfway through the book in the blink of an eye."
--"The Grand Rapids Press
""As she wisely points out, what the whales need to survive--clean water, clean air, forests, and salmon--happen to be what we need as well."
--"Sierra" magazine
"Remarkably diverting . . . In plainspoken prose, Morton relates her work afield . . . She writes of her personal life with unembroidered ease as well, which is extremely powerful."
"--Kirkus Reviews
""This is biographical natural history at its best."
--"Booklist
"

[Morton s] descriptions of [the whales ] lives and their haunting underwater communications are so vivid that they will remain with you long after you have read the last eloquent page.
JANE GOODALL
[A] WARM, ENERGETIC MEMOIR . . . An engaging tale of a woman s commitment to science and a life well lived.
"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK ABOUT AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN. . . . This is a species that has learned to live in tolerance with each other, and to share in the resources of their world so that all can survive. Would that our species could learn to do the same.
" Hamilton Spectator
" A PASSIONATE MEMOIR BY A TRUE FIELD BIOLOGIST.
" Natural History
" FASCINATING . . .
[Morton s] writing reflects a deep respect for whales in general and killer whales in particular. The reader will find her regard contagious.
" Richmond Times-Dispatch
" This book will immerse you in a magical underwater world. It will bring you face to face with some of the most intelligent and mysterious creatures on earth. Alexandra Morton is a meticulous scientist, but she is not afraid to let her love for the whales illuminate her writing, nor her distress and anger at the harm we are inflicting on their world.
JANE GOODALL
One of the world s premier orca researchers . . . Morton has emerged as a champion for the welfare of whales and the preservation of their habitat. "Listening to Whales" is an unusual and involving tale of a life committed to interspecies communication.
" The Olympian
" [Morton] is field scientist in the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. . . . Readers will be impressed by the physical hardships of field work, the moving account of the death of her marine photographer husband in a diving mishap, and her stories of rearing her children on shipboard and in an isolated coastal community.
" Library Journal
"
Morton s descriptions of individual orca movements, and how each relates to the species as a whole, course alongside her passionate defense of the ecological balance of the region; she infuses both with just the right amount of personal reflection.
"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
Moments of quiet triumph illuminate this absorbing tale.
" Christian Science Monitor
" (Selected as One of the Best Books of 2002)
ABSORBING, MOVING . . .
[Morton s] book gives us invaluable insight into complex, wonderful creatures. It s an eloquent testament to one woman s efforts at interspecies communication.
" The Calgary Sun
" Lyrical . . . Hopeful . . . "Listening to Whales" is a fascinating journey into the heart of a research scientist captivated by these magnificent creatures.
"Miami Herald
" Leaves one questioning what we have done to our water-based, spy-hopping, family-loving cohabitants of this planet and if we have not in the process diminished ourselves.
"The Georgia Straight" magazine
Remarkable . . . An extraordinary tale . . . Fascinating reading . . . Full of both poignant and distressing moments . . . One of the chief pleasures of her book is the straightforward quality of her prose; one finds oneself halfway through the book in the blink of an eye.
"The Grand Rapids Press
" As she wisely points out, what the whales need to survive clean water, clean air, forests, and salmon happen to be what we need as well.
"Sierra" magazine
Remarkably diverting . . . In plainspoken prose, Morton relates her work afield . . . She writes of her personal life with unembroidered ease as well, which is extremely powerful.
" Kirkus Reviews
" This is biographical natural history at its best.
"Booklist
"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

For the past twenty-five years, Alexandra Morton has been at the forefront of whale and dolphin research, dedicating her life to the study of orcas (also known as killer whales). Now in "Listening to Whales, Morton shares the spellbinding story of her career, her adventures in the wilderness, the heartbreak she has endured, and the rewards of living her life on her own terms.
Born into an artistic family in Connecticut, Morton experienced a seismic jolt when at age twelve she first read the work of primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall and knew she wanted to study wild animals. Soon afterward, listening for the first time to orcas communicating with each other, she knew she had found her life work. In the late 1970s, while working at California's Marineland, Alexandra pioneered the recording of whale sounds by dropping a hydrophone into the tank of two killer whales. She recorded the varied language of mating, childbirth, and even grief after the birth of a stillborn calf. At the same time she made the startling observation that the whales were inventing and perfecting wonderful synchronized movements, a behavior that was soon recognized as a defining characteristic of orca society.
In 19784, Alexandra moved with her husband, photographer Robin Morton, to a remote bay in British Columbia to continue her research with wild orcas. For a few idyllic years, Alexandra and Robin shared their passion for whales, cruising the green northern waters and raising a baby boy. But tragedy struck when Robin died in a terrible accident. Only the love of her son and her abiding dedication to whale research gave Alexandra the strength to continue her groundbreaking work. Her recordings of the whalesthat swim by her house have led her to a deeper understanding of the mystery of whale echolocation, the vocal communication that enables the mammals to find their way in the dark sea. She continues to be among the renowned researchers attempting to break down the barriers of interspecies communication.
At once an inspiring story of a woman's determination to live her life on her own terms and a fascinating study of the profound communion between humans and whales, this book will open your eyes anew to the wonders of the natural world. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If I believed in parallel universes I would think that somewhere there is another version of me, living in another version of Earth, in a place a bit like British Columbia in Canada. I'd live on the sea, somewhere rugged and remote and study marine mammals. The version of me writing this review took a different path in life but this book is as near as I'll get to that alternate life: and it does a pretty good job.

Alexandra Morton started her career at a marine park in California in the late 1970s. She began studying communication between dolphins but then changed her attention to the killer whales at the park and pioneered the recording of orca sounds using a hydrophone. Becoming increasingly perturbed by the concept of captive marine mammals, in 1984 she moved to a remote community in British Columbia changing the emphasis of her research from captive to wild orca.

Alexandra recorded the whales during mating, childbirth, training and grief and became to recognise the various patterns and what they mean. Her recordings have led to a deeper understanding of whale communication by echolocation and of the effects that modern fishing techniques and other human activities are having on the whales today.

I enjoyed the way this book was written: it is scientific but also deeply moving. She describes the tedious and meticulous job of recording and analysing the sounds recorded on her hydrophone: I'm not certain that the other version of me would have the patience for that. She describes how the whale researchers all interact to piece together what they can about the behaviour of whales in a way that makes you feel as if you have met them in person.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book and if you are looking for a summer read which will allow you to think about our wider world rather than another chick lit novel about kooky girl meeting normal guy etc., then look no further. This beautifully written book that will make you appreciate the wonderful world of the sea and it's inlets. It will make you think differently about the captivity of these beautiful creatures for our entertainment. It is illegal to caputre humans and keep them in captivity for the entertainment of other humans, so why as intelligent beings do we do the same to highly intelligent sea life and other creatures. (I don't include environmental Zoos in this just entertainment parks and circuses).

Read this book and if it changes just one person's view about the beautiful and highly intelligent Orca it will be worth it. It has changed my view and where before I was ambivalent about places that use these beautiful creatures for our entertainment, now I abhor them and would never set foot inside of one or hopefully buy any product or visit any place that is owned by the same corporation.

If you are expecting to head to one of these places during your summer holiday this year please give some time to reading this book first and I hope it will change your viewpoint.

Farmed salmon also comes under scrutiney because of the damage it has done during the time it was allowed to be an unregulated activity.

Whilst I have not decided to up sticks and move to a such a remote place to protect the environment, I like one of the other reviewers would like to think that in a parellel universe there is another me doing just that.

Thnak you Alexandra for opening your science, your research, your world and most of all your heart to me.
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This book is captivating, you really feel like you are there with the author through all the experiences and trials. I was a bit disappointed with the last few chapters as they focus more on the aftermath of the fish farms and I would have liked it to go back to the whales but without giving too much away I understand why it did.
This really is a fantastic book and I was gutted when I finished it, there are constant suprises and I would definately read it again and again.
Thank you very much Alexandra Morton x
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Format: Paperback
Alexandra Morton takes you into the wonderfull underwater world of the whales and their enviroment. There are moments that will make you laugh and cry and also be ashamed to be human. It will leave you in awe of orcas and marvalled by the intelligence that these sentient animals show. A definate for all animal lovers out there our any body considering visiting marine parks as this will open your eyes.
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Format: Paperback
This book is out of this world.
I could not put it down once the working with Orky and Corky came up.
Beautiful photos and a beautiful book by Alexandra Morton.
The only disappointment was I had to finish it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is such a beautiful book!
It pulled me in straight away to Alex's story and kept me gripped to the end. I adore animals and Orca have to be one of my favourite as they are magnificent creatures and she describes them as such. What I love about this book is that not only are you getting to know about her life but it is informative about Orca, the behaviour of the Orca she worked with and also about some of the politics and issues facing commercial fishing in the area that can have a detrimental affect on the environment and the lives of the people who reside there. I also found it to be quite emotional through the highs and lows of her life as she describes everything so well.
I would certainly recommend this book to everyone! I loved it!
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