Hot Best Seller

Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas

Availability: Ready to download

Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas   Ever since Eva Saulitis began her whale research in Alaska in the 1980s, she has been drawn deeply into the lives of a single extended family of endangered orcas struggling to survive in Prince William Sound. Over the course of a decades-long caree Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas   Ever since Eva Saulitis began her whale research in Alaska in the 1980s, she has been drawn deeply into the lives of a single extended family of endangered orcas struggling to survive in Prince William Sound. Over the course of a decades-long career spent observing and studying these whales, and eventually coming to know them as individuals, she has, sadly, witnessed the devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989—after which not a single calf has been born to the group. With the intellectual rigor of a scientist and the heart of a poet, Saulitis gives voice to these vital yet vanishing survivors and the place they are so loyal to. Both an elegy for one orca family and a celebration of the entire species, Into Great Silence is a moving portrait of the interconnectedness of humans with animals and place—and of the responsibility we have to protect them.


Compare

Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas   Ever since Eva Saulitis began her whale research in Alaska in the 1980s, she has been drawn deeply into the lives of a single extended family of endangered orcas struggling to survive in Prince William Sound. Over the course of a decades-long caree Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas   Ever since Eva Saulitis began her whale research in Alaska in the 1980s, she has been drawn deeply into the lives of a single extended family of endangered orcas struggling to survive in Prince William Sound. Over the course of a decades-long career spent observing and studying these whales, and eventually coming to know them as individuals, she has, sadly, witnessed the devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989—after which not a single calf has been born to the group. With the intellectual rigor of a scientist and the heart of a poet, Saulitis gives voice to these vital yet vanishing survivors and the place they are so loyal to. Both an elegy for one orca family and a celebration of the entire species, Into Great Silence is a moving portrait of the interconnectedness of humans with animals and place—and of the responsibility we have to protect them.

30 review for Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas

  1. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I started reading this book when Eva was in her last days, and somewhere in the middle of the book, she ventured into the realm of "and then..." So my heart is broken in two for the whales and for Eva. But I am in awe of this book--how it is biology and spirituality so inevitably intertwined. It's not necessarily a new way of seeing or understanding the natural world, but Eva found a way to put this way of knowing into words. I started reading this book when Eva was in her last days, and somewhere in the middle of the book, she ventured into the realm of "and then..." So my heart is broken in two for the whales and for Eva. But I am in awe of this book--how it is biology and spirituality so inevitably intertwined. It's not necessarily a new way of seeing or understanding the natural world, but Eva found a way to put this way of knowing into words.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amara Tanith

    A copy of this book was provided free via Edelweiss for the purpose of review. tl;dr version: It's been quite a while since a book has had as great an emotional effect on me as Eva Saulitis's Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas. By the end of the book, I was very close to tearing up; it's quite a touching story, and the reality of it resonates with me. My full review can be read at Amara's Eden. A copy of this book was provided free via Edelweiss for the purpose of review. tl;dr version: It's been quite a while since a book has had as great an emotional effect on me as Eva Saulitis's Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas. By the end of the book, I was very close to tearing up; it's quite a touching story, and the reality of it resonates with me. My full review can be read at Amara's Eden.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    I'm going to have to do a much bigger (and more polished) review of this later but I had to write something now: I loved slipping into the world of the Prince William Sound and the Chugach Transients with Eva Saulitis as a guide. Her writing is a pretty perfect mix of hard science but also emotion and personal reflection. Seeing her struggle with the horrific effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on the Sound, it's creatures (the transiet orcas in particular), and herself was incredibly m I'm going to have to do a much bigger (and more polished) review of this later but I had to write something now: I loved slipping into the world of the Prince William Sound and the Chugach Transients with Eva Saulitis as a guide. Her writing is a pretty perfect mix of hard science but also emotion and personal reflection. Seeing her struggle with the horrific effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on the Sound, it's creatures (the transiet orcas in particular), and herself was incredibly moving. One of the strongest parts of the book for me was how Saulitis continually debated whether it was possible to really understand orcas given that scientists only see a small fraction of their life with so little context. I admired how he struggled to balance her emotional attachment to the orcas with her scientific duty and also appreciated her refusal to anthropomorphize the whales and assign them equivalent human behavior and emotion. Her journal notes (which range from simple scientific observations to more personal and quite poetic entries) were wonderful additions. The only thing I wish I had access to is the audio files of her recordings of the orcas which seem so powerful and fascinating. And....here's that review!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin Hollowell

    Devastating and beautiful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    missy jean

    This book is memoirs of Saulitis's early years studying a family of orca whales in Prince William Sound. There is science about orcas here, and there is also the poetry of place, and ruminations on the fruited blank spaces (of species and individuals) across which science cannot reach. Eye to eye with an imprisoned orca, Saulitis writes: "Watching him, I felt the way I had the previous summer, seeing orcas swim through crude oil sheens--culpable, part of the mechanized world, reducible to the sum This book is memoirs of Saulitis's early years studying a family of orca whales in Prince William Sound. There is science about orcas here, and there is also the poetry of place, and ruminations on the fruited blank spaces (of species and individuals) across which science cannot reach. Eye to eye with an imprisoned orca, Saulitis writes: "Watching him, I felt the way I had the previous summer, seeing orcas swim through crude oil sheens--culpable, part of the mechanized world, reducible to the sum of my destructive, human parts." Which is how I feel so often in the company of non-human animals: This mourning about the choices humans have made, this irascible complicity, this keen wish to be something other than human. Reading about oil spill and imprisonment, thinking about the ways the human world intrudes on the profoundly complex orca world, made these feelings very present for me. And eye to eye with a free orca, she writes: "I could count on one hand the number of times a wild orca had looked me in the eye. What does it see? What does it think and feel? I know what I feel. I feel my heart pinned in its gaze. I feel seen and known in ways I could never see and know myself--the iceberg of my own being. I can't see my reflection in a wild orca's eye, and I can't ask for an interpretation. But there's no question who's in control, who's choosing to see and be seen. I'm never more alive than in that moment, exposed, a part of my soul stolen and given back, reshaped."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristal Cooper

    Eva Saulitis began studying a particular population of killer whales in Alaska's Prince William Sound a year before the Exxon Valdez disaster. One just has to look at the family tree illustration inside the back cover - or apply common sense - to know that it doesn't end well for these whales. Although every page I turned built my feelings of dread, I still enjoyed the journey thanks to the author's beautiful prose. She's a true naturalist and gives vivid descriptions of the weather, terrain, bi Eva Saulitis began studying a particular population of killer whales in Alaska's Prince William Sound a year before the Exxon Valdez disaster. One just has to look at the family tree illustration inside the back cover - or apply common sense - to know that it doesn't end well for these whales. Although every page I turned built my feelings of dread, I still enjoyed the journey thanks to the author's beautiful prose. She's a true naturalist and gives vivid descriptions of the weather, terrain, birds, flora and fauna she encountered on a daily basis. She also describes her scientific research in a way the layman can appreciate, while avoiding the temptation to anthropomorphize her subjects. I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a true tear-jerker.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lyssa deHart

    I really enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about orcas and the symbiotic nature of life. It's by turns very scientific by observations, but it is clear that Eva loves these whales. From one of the scientific observations around the hunting orcas, I thought one of the quotes to remember was, "if there's a conversation of death, there's also an equally inscrutable conversation of life. There is death and there is play, and both are mysterious." I learned something's I didn't know and I enjoyed to I really enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about orcas and the symbiotic nature of life. It's by turns very scientific by observations, but it is clear that Eva loves these whales. From one of the scientific observations around the hunting orcas, I thought one of the quotes to remember was, "if there's a conversation of death, there's also an equally inscrutable conversation of life. There is death and there is play, and both are mysterious." I learned something's I didn't know and I enjoyed to book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashes

    A poet and a marine biologist, Eva Saulitis started studying the Chugach transients right before the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and kept following them for over twenty years. Into Great Silence is a story of love, of loss. Of extinction.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Very interesting and was sad to see how much we mess up the planet and harm animals as well :( but overall a very good and informative read and made me want to go on a whale watch

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holly Madison

    I was so happy to receive this book from the Goodreads giveaway. As an Environmental Science major (and animal lover), I have always found the looming threat of animal extinction to be very close to home. Orcas in particular are such precious, gentle giants... it's difficult to imagine that we humans can have such substantial and devastating impacts on nature without even realizing it's going on. The world is crashing down around us and most of us don't even care. And in the wake of pollution, o I was so happy to receive this book from the Goodreads giveaway. As an Environmental Science major (and animal lover), I have always found the looming threat of animal extinction to be very close to home. Orcas in particular are such precious, gentle giants... it's difficult to imagine that we humans can have such substantial and devastating impacts on nature without even realizing it's going on. The world is crashing down around us and most of us don't even care. And in the wake of pollution, overpopulation and indifference, it is the animals who will suffer first. This memoir sheds some light on the subject and gives us a very real portrayal of one scientist's factual and emotional observations. This book will open up your eyes and show you a very dark side of human nature, inspiring anyone who reads it to get up and take action. It might be too late for orcas and other animals, but we still have a responsibility to fight for them and at least TRY to make a difference. This is a tear-jerker, and is definitely worth a read for anyone who ever wanted to make the world a better place.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Rau

    This is a humbling, and scientific story about a passionate, budding biologist and one of nature's mysteries, the bond between orcas and their loyalty to their home. The battle between the love of such a majestic animal and science showed the parallels of mind over matter, so to speak. A story that starts before the Exxon Valdez spill, and carries you through 25 years of heart breaking observations is beautifully written and poignant. Read this if you like orcas, passion or science. This is a humbling, and scientific story about a passionate, budding biologist and one of nature's mysteries, the bond between orcas and their loyalty to their home. The battle between the love of such a majestic animal and science showed the parallels of mind over matter, so to speak. A story that starts before the Exxon Valdez spill, and carries you through 25 years of heart breaking observations is beautifully written and poignant. Read this if you like orcas, passion or science.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    I still have tears drying on my cheeks from finishing this book. I'm grieving the whales and the life of before . . . I'm traveling the channels of orcas with my dreams. Saulitis' words are beautiful, honest, rich in science and beauty. I cannot recommend this memoir enough. This book has shifted something in me, something that had slid out of place. I don't yet know how I will live the days ahead, but I know I will live differently. I still have tears drying on my cheeks from finishing this book. I'm grieving the whales and the life of before . . . I'm traveling the channels of orcas with my dreams. Saulitis' words are beautiful, honest, rich in science and beauty. I cannot recommend this memoir enough. This book has shifted something in me, something that had slid out of place. I don't yet know how I will live the days ahead, but I know I will live differently.

  13. 4 out of 5

    AdiTurbo

    Very little about Orcas and their ways, to much about the life of the writer, long descriptions of nothing at all, no developments whatsoever. Just too bored to continue.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate Savage

    So...how does Exxon still exist? This is just a destroyer of a book. It covers the author's studies of a group of orcas in the Gulf of Alaska -- a group with their own unique behaviors and language, which some argue should be seen as a separate species. She begins studying them in 1988. The next year, the very-foreseeable Exxon Valdez disaster happens. Oil coats the gulf and the seals the orcas hunt. Over the following years, the orcas experience extremely high mortality rates. None of the survi So...how does Exxon still exist? This is just a destroyer of a book. It covers the author's studies of a group of orcas in the Gulf of Alaska -- a group with their own unique behaviors and language, which some argue should be seen as a separate species. She begins studying them in 1988. The next year, the very-foreseeable Exxon Valdez disaster happens. Oil coats the gulf and the seals the orcas hunt. Over the following years, the orcas experience extremely high mortality rates. None of the survivors have ever given birth since then. They are "functionally extinct." I knew this when I began the book, so I started already with a heavy heart (and a sense of astonishment that I was willingly putting myself through this experience). But so much of the book is just joy and wonder over these animals and the place where they live. I told people it wasn't as depressing of a book as you'd expect (every dying species is a living species, after all). But then came the ending, where Saulitis releases all of her scientific restraint and allows her full deep-hearted grief loose, mourning for particular wonderful whales she has known who are now dead. Just completely gutting. I recommend this book if you believe that sometimes it's better to face grief head-on, rather than repress it. Or if you'd like an experience to jostle you out of petty concerns and remind you of the big important things. Or if you need more reasons to hate Exxon. But it might be best to take this book slowly, maybe in conjunction with some lighter reading. It's also just a great example of a scientist using the humanities to make her research full and alive and vital to the general public.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    Eva Salautis began her life's work in 1987 when she signed on to volunteer with whale researcher Craig Matkin in Prince William Sound. This is when and where she discovered her identity as a marine biologist dedicated to the study of an extended family of Chugach transient orcas. In 1988 she spent an idyllic summer among the orcas, living in a tent on a remote beach, and finding beauty and peace in the Alaskan wilderness. When she returned in 1989, the place had been fouled and permanently chang Eva Salautis began her life's work in 1987 when she signed on to volunteer with whale researcher Craig Matkin in Prince William Sound. This is when and where she discovered her identity as a marine biologist dedicated to the study of an extended family of Chugach transient orcas. In 1988 she spent an idyllic summer among the orcas, living in a tent on a remote beach, and finding beauty and peace in the Alaskan wilderness. When she returned in 1989, the place had been fouled and permanently changed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She continued to study orcas, paying particular attention to their communication with each other, writing out echolocations and bodily movements like an orchestral score. Still, what tantalized her was what she couldn't see below the green, blue, black surface of the Sound. As a scientist, her attempts to assign meaning to sounds met with resistance. Salautis describes a doomed orca family, its numbers diminishing each year by premature death. She helps us understand humans' inability to comprehend the fullness of the natural world we live in, where species depend upon each other and send out signals to the world that we can't comprehend except in a clumsy, human-centric way. The world changes, adapts, recovers from catastrophe, but it does not return to what it was and much of value is lost.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Naylor

    This is a sad book, as it's Eva's story of the loss of orcas after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. She studied the transient orca population in Alaska for over 20 years. My husband and I traveled to the Kenai Peninsula to celebrate a big anniversary. I understood how people could get bit by the Alaska bug, as nature there is like nowhere I have ever been. This moving story took me to a place inside that I didn't know I had. While in Alaska we had seen some Orcas do their wonderful dance. I bonded wi This is a sad book, as it's Eva's story of the loss of orcas after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. She studied the transient orca population in Alaska for over 20 years. My husband and I traveled to the Kenai Peninsula to celebrate a big anniversary. I understood how people could get bit by the Alaska bug, as nature there is like nowhere I have ever been. This moving story took me to a place inside that I didn't know I had. While in Alaska we had seen some Orcas do their wonderful dance. I bonded with the sea life we saw from our outdoor seats on a day long boat ride, not far from where Eva was by Alaska standards. Eva is such a good writer I felt like I was by her side looking for and finding orcas; listening to their sounds, and wondering about their feelings. I could feel her excitement as she named them early on, and bonded with them, especially a male orca named Eyak. I could feel her sorrow in each passing year, as their numbers dwindled and there were no offspring. I loved her poetry and the history of the native people that she shared along the way. I loved how she vividly described and enjoyed all the nature that Alaska has to offer. I especially felt her sorrow at the loss of Eyak, for whom the book is dedicated.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Keel

    I received this through First Reads Giveaways. This book was so heartbreakingly sad but beautiful. I am an animal lover through and through, and I will admit it. There were several times during this book when I started crying. I just couldn't help myself. Part of it had to do with the story itself, but part of it was the beautiful writing style of Ms. Saulitis. She writes wonderfully. I highly recommend this book to... well... anyone. I received this through First Reads Giveaways. This book was so heartbreakingly sad but beautiful. I am an animal lover through and through, and I will admit it. There were several times during this book when I started crying. I just couldn't help myself. Part of it had to do with the story itself, but part of it was the beautiful writing style of Ms. Saulitis. She writes wonderfully. I highly recommend this book to... well... anyone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ecoute Sauvage

    This is a great book on several levels. The author clearly loves orcas and has done wonders communicating with them - one wishes that she wouldn't call them "whales" though, as she obviously knows they are large dolphins. This is a great book on several levels. The author clearly loves orcas and has done wonders communicating with them - one wishes that she wouldn't call them "whales" though, as she obviously knows they are large dolphins.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    warning: the "loss" in the title refers in part to the results of the Exxon Valdez oil spill... which makes parts of this book very bleak (though still more than worth one's time). warning: the "loss" in the title refers in part to the results of the Exxon Valdez oil spill... which makes parts of this book very bleak (though still more than worth one's time).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    Into Great Silence, by Eva Saulitis, is a moving memoir of her time spent in Prince William Sound studying the AT1 Transient pod orcas, better known to the author and reader as the Chugach Transients. Saulitis starts her story by showing the reader exactly how she started her study and how her fascination with the orcas began. Interestingly enough, her first encounter occurred while she was working at a fish hatchery, in which she saw the pod of orcas swimming nearby. Seeing as she was already i Into Great Silence, by Eva Saulitis, is a moving memoir of her time spent in Prince William Sound studying the AT1 Transient pod orcas, better known to the author and reader as the Chugach Transients. Saulitis starts her story by showing the reader exactly how she started her study and how her fascination with the orcas began. Interestingly enough, her first encounter occurred while she was working at a fish hatchery, in which she saw the pod of orcas swimming nearby. Seeing as she was already into the field of biology, her interest grew and – in an amazing stroke of luck – was chosen to help work on a boat called Lucky Star for Craig Matkin, who studied resident orcas. From there on, her love for the animals was fueled and – for her graduate thesis – she decided to study the habits of the Chugach pod. It wasn’t but a couple of years after she started to help Matkin and others that the Exxon Valdez spill occurred, forever changing the Sound and surrounding waters. Into Great Silence is largely focused on the life of the orcas after the fateful spill and how such a disaster affected their lives. Saulitis tells the reader up front that this will not be a book with a very happy ending. In the prologue, she is already lamenting the great loss of life in the pod and – as we read through the subsequent chapters, Saulitis – with her beautiful and poetic storytelling – is able to instill in the reader love and great respect for the gentle giants of the Sound. By the end of the story, my heart was breaking for the poor animals who – against all odds – still try to live in the Sound to this very day, though their numbers are greatly dwindling. Saulitis herself wonders whether the pod will continue to survive or if there will come a day where she wakes up and discovers that the last of the whales she had come to know and love have perished. Into Great Silence is a reminder to readers of the beauty and fragility of nature, that one single moment in time can forever alter a way of life that has existed for several thousands of years. It is a stunning, albeit tragic, story of love, loss, and human attempt to right a wrong great done over twenty-three years ago.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tim Anderson

    I won this in a giveaway and was hoping I would. Thank you so very much. It was a great read. I was drawn into the mystery of Chugach transient orcas from the beginning. Eva's passion was infectious. I got so caught up in her search for answers that I kept turning to the front to follow on the map. Regretfully I had to google and find a better map. I tried to figure out where whale camp was located and exactly where the Valdez ran aground. This was my only downfall with the book. I was inspire I won this in a giveaway and was hoping I would. Thank you so very much. It was a great read. I was drawn into the mystery of Chugach transient orcas from the beginning. Eva's passion was infectious. I got so caught up in her search for answers that I kept turning to the front to follow on the map. Regretfully I had to google and find a better map. I tried to figure out where whale camp was located and exactly where the Valdez ran aground. This was my only downfall with the book. I was inspired by her poetic way of describing the tragedy caused by the spill. I was filled with outrage and sadness at not only the damage from the spill, but the negative effects of most of the cleanup processes. I became so ensconced in her research of Eyak, that I found myself searching Eva's website for his calls and sounds. I became fascinated by the language enigma. To any other readers, this is a mistake for I did not find any recordings but tainted the ending of the book. If one should happen to find Eyaks calls let me know. I want to thank Eva for the glimpse she gave me not only into the world of the Orca, but into her life as well. I wish you continued good health and keep us posted on the transients on your website. Strangely, I'm sorta glad there is still so much mystery surrounding them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Smith

    We travelled to Alaska this summer and on a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park, were fortunate enough to see three of the Chugach transient orcas. We learned that they had names--Marie, Paddy, and Ewan--and that they had survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1988 (through Marie has not calved since). The tour boat guides, Justin and Clint, mentioned that a book had been written about these whales, "Into Great Silence," by Eva Saulitas. My wife put it on hold at the Austin Public Librar We travelled to Alaska this summer and on a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park, were fortunate enough to see three of the Chugach transient orcas. We learned that they had names--Marie, Paddy, and Ewan--and that they had survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1988 (through Marie has not calved since). The tour boat guides, Justin and Clint, mentioned that a book had been written about these whales, "Into Great Silence," by Eva Saulitas. My wife put it on hold at the Austin Public Library and it was waiting for us when we returned. Without this book, I would never have known the full significance of what we saw that day. The whales we saw were three of only seven whales that survive from before the oil spill. They cannot reproduce and when they are gone, this sub-species of transient orcas will be extinct forever. Saulitas recorded and categorized their unique language so that language will be gone as well. The depth of the author's knowledge of and passion for these whales is stunning and I've seldom read a more emotional evocation of place. And what a stunning place it is. This is a moving, heart-rending book from a scientist and poet who, sadly we have learned, died in 2016. At least she didn't have to see the final passing of the last of her beloved AT1 Chugach transients.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    It was...okay. Eva Saulitis is definitely not a minimalist in her writing style. I found 2 big things lacking in this book. #1 - I know this may be a small detail to some, but the map was too minimal. How ironic?! Ms. Saulitis believes in writing in such a flowery style, but leaves major details out of the map. She keeps talking about Whale Camp. I'd refer to the map to see where she was talking about...nothing. Then she kept talking about the Labyrinth. Again, I went back to the map...nothing. It was...okay. Eva Saulitis is definitely not a minimalist in her writing style. I found 2 big things lacking in this book. #1 - I know this may be a small detail to some, but the map was too minimal. How ironic?! Ms. Saulitis believes in writing in such a flowery style, but leaves major details out of the map. She keeps talking about Whale Camp. I'd refer to the map to see where she was talking about...nothing. Then she kept talking about the Labyrinth. Again, I went back to the map...nothing. I finally gave up after trying to find Dangerous Passage. #2 - Pictures? Where are the pictures? This whole memoir talked about the importance of taking pictures. Documenting the lives of these transient whales and the lives of the people playing a part of this ongoing story. Where are some of these pictures? I count four pictures in the book...all of whales. I was ready to stop reading when I got to the comment on page 162 saying, "...he snapped a picture of Molly Lou and me standing in a field of fireweed taller than our heads. It sits on my desk to this day." I would have loved to see the picture. What a disappointment. It would have helped make connections. So sad...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Lahn

    This book took a while for me to get through, but it was beautiful and poetic throughout. The author really captured the sense of excitement and wonder seeing these animals inspires, followed by the sense of mystery and awe at how little we know about their lives after they disappear beneath the waves. The loss of this unique group of orcas is heartbreaking when experienced through Eva's eyes. This book took a while for me to get through, but it was beautiful and poetic throughout. The author really captured the sense of excitement and wonder seeing these animals inspires, followed by the sense of mystery and awe at how little we know about their lives after they disappear beneath the waves. The loss of this unique group of orcas is heartbreaking when experienced through Eva's eyes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Another wonderful and sad book about orcas. I have been mildly obsessed with reading about Orcas since I saw blackfish. I guess there are not many happy books about orcas these days.... one of my lifelong dreams is to go see some orcas in the pacific northwest..

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pam Kirst

    Knowing the end of Eva Saulitis's story made reading this tremendously poignant. The fact that she grew up six miles from my hometown, and attended the same undergrad school caught me, too. https://pamkirst2014.wordpress.com/20... Knowing the end of Eva Saulitis's story made reading this tremendously poignant. The fact that she grew up six miles from my hometown, and attended the same undergrad school caught me, too. https://pamkirst2014.wordpress.com/20...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathi

    an amazing book by a scientist poet. stunning at every level

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kogiopsis

    I think part of why I feel sort of conflicted in my opinions about this book is that I didn't really know what to expect going in. I've read and loved quite a few autobiographies by cetacean researchers, and find the particular combination of science and personal history that categorizes them to be fascinating. Starting this book, I anticipated something like that - but that isn't what this book is. Where other memoirs tend to be predominantly narrative, Saulitis's book is much more descriptive I think part of why I feel sort of conflicted in my opinions about this book is that I didn't really know what to expect going in. I've read and loved quite a few autobiographies by cetacean researchers, and find the particular combination of science and personal history that categorizes them to be fascinating. Starting this book, I anticipated something like that - but that isn't what this book is. Where other memoirs tend to be predominantly narrative, Saulitis's book is much more descriptive - instead of building towards a research goal or larger conflict, as Alexandra Morton does in Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us or Diana Reiss in The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives, Saulitis is just... meditating on her life and studies. Part of that, I suppose, is that the conclusions of much of the research described herein are foregone at best. The ecology of Prince William Sound has been irrevocably altered by the Exxon Valdez spill, to its great detriment; there is no other logical end for the small group of whales at the top of the Sound's food chain than extinction. The other part of that, though, is in the title - and really, I should have expected this - a memoir. This is a subgenre categorized by self-reflection more than science, so it makes sense that that's what the book is. It's still a worthwhile read, if portraits of fieldwork and place appeal to you. Saulitis clearly loves both Prince William Sound and the Chugach Transient orcas who live there, and it comes through on every page of the book. The descriptions of the destruction wrought by the oil spill are both poetic and tragic, particularly as they pervade even the pre-spill parts of the book: Stare hard at the water, which will darken and die. If language is a reflection of place, as linguists claim, then the language of the Chugach transients, both acoustic and behavioral - no, everything about them, including their dying - was a reflection of place. Nine subtractions. Nine silences. I was almost disappointed that I didn't find this book heartwrenching - and then I got to Saulitis's description of seeing the bones of a whale she had studied, Eyak, hanging in a museum. That moment, and all it represented, was incredibly powerful and really brought home the somber quality of the rest of the memoir. I'd have still liked more scientific content (and it's strange to me that the book doesn't have a bibliography, though I suppose its focus doesn't require one) but this was a worthwhile read nonetheless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    M

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Lynn

    I really enjoyed this book. A beautiful story of the life of a field biologist and a woman who saw magic and beauty in the lives of the orcas, seals and other inhabitants of the Sound. The way she explains the complicated emotions she felt about the spill and the loss of orcas is incredibly poignant and haunting.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...