The Lost WhalePosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 6, 2014
This week in ALDF’s Animal Book Club, we are reading The Lost Whale: the True Story of an Orca Named Luna, by Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm (St. Martin’s Press). There’s been a lot in the news lately about the plight of orcas—from the raging controversy sparked by revelations about SeaWorld’s mistreatment of whales in the stunning documentary Blackfish, to ALDF’s lawsuit with NRDC against the U.S. Navy for planning to kill thousands of endangered whales and dolphins (and harm millions more) with underwater sonar and explosives testing in southern California and Hawaii. And of course, ALDF was delighted with the recent news that finally Lolita, the orca held captive in illegal and miserable conditions at the Miami Seaquarium for 43 years, may receive the protections she is due under the Endangered Species Act. ALDF—along with PETA—will continue to do everything we can to give Lolita her freedom.
So in a sense, The Lost Whale addresses these issues about the harms our society brings upon all these giants of the sea, by telling the tale of one particular whale. It is the heartbreaking and true story of a lonely orca named “Luna,” who befriended humans in Nootka Sound, off the coast of Vancouver Island. One of the beauties of this story is the deeply personal connection between humans and orcas that reflects the great emotional intelligence that orcas possess. In this way, we cringe all the more to think of Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium, or Tilikum at SeaWorld, languishing miserably in pathetically tiny tanks—tanks so shallow they can’t ever dive or engage in true swimming behaviors, and so lonely it defies all natural and social experience that is their birthright as wild animals.
In The Lost Whale, Luna becomes separated from his pod, and his desperation to make connections reminds us of our common plight with nonhuman animals. Unable to find his own family (orcas are extremely family-oriented, social animals), he attempts to bond with humans. As is the case with Lolita and Tilikum, amongst animal lovers, scientists, and lawmakers controversy surrounded the issue of how best to help Luna. But one thing becomes clear—orcas belong in the wild, with their families, protected by law, safe from explosives and sonar testing, and that is why ALDF is working so hard to ensure this.
Part journalistic exposé of a national scandal, part personal tale of an interconnection between humans and animals, the charming story presented here makes The Lost Whale a book worth reading. The Lost Whale also expands upon the authors’ critically acclaimed films The Whale (narrated by Ryan Reynolds and produced by Scarlett Johansen) and Saving Luna.