Top critical review
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Let them be free
on 2 September 2014
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that the only reason that dolphins and whales are kept in captivity is because the money that is generated out of their exploitation. Orcas are charismatic and awe-inspiring animals that captivate all those who see them - this is why people go to places like SeaWorld. However, there is no place in a civilised society where other beings that have the same right as humans to live peacefully on this planet are systematically subject to abuse for the sake of entertainment.
I have been aware of the issues surrounding the captivity of whales and dolphins for some time before reading Mr Kirby's book. I ordered the book wanting to know more about the plight of these animals and the psychological strain it puts on them. I found the book somewhat disappointing for the following reasons:
1. There is a lot of supporting evidence to back up the premise that keeping dolphins and whales in captivity cannot be justified, but I feel the `thriller' style of the book compromises the message that needs to be heard. The book essentially uses sensationalism, shock and horror to awaken the public (but sometimes, we need that).
2. The book also spends too much time on Naomi Rose. Great swathes of the early part of the book is spent on the life and ruminations of Naomi Rose and I was left wondering what role does this woman play in this book other than being a token orca researcher. There is little mention of other pioneering scientists in the field of wild orca research. In addition, I came to dislike Dr Rose as my reading progressed. This is not a reflection of the individual, but Mr Kirby's representation of her. She came across as a sanctimonious, arrogant person.
3. There is no continuity in the book. The chapters jump around on different topics. One moment you're reading about the incidents at SeaWorld and the next you're reading about Dr Rose's personal struggles.
4. There appears to be a lot of `artistic licence' used in this book. For example, I find it hard to believe that former SeaWorld trainers and others would remember verbatim conversations that occurred more than a decade ago.
This book had so much promise, but for me, it has failed to deliver. Marine parks must be stopped and only hard science and public opinion will sway the legislators. Mr Kirby had the ammunition, but people who are not familiar with the research and the plight of orcas will only read the sensational bits and not grasp the bigger picture.
Notwithstanding my comments, the book is a valuable source of information and adds o the argument that these creatures must be released.