Sunday, 11 February 2018

Review: Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, Seaworld & The Truth Beyond Blackfish

Good Evening Bookworms

It was John Hargrove's childhood dream to become a whale trainer.  He worked hard to make that dream come true and over two decades worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of Sea World's facilities in the US.

His account of his relationship with the whales is deeply moving, especially those with his favourite Orcas, Kasatka and her daughter Takara.  Over time Hargrove loses faith in Sea World and sees the captivity of whales as detrimental to this highly social creature, as well as a danger to the trainers.

After two orcas kill two of Hargrove's colleagues he leaves Sea World and speaks out publicly about the conditions in which the orcas are held and the safety of the trainers.  He contributes to the controversial but award-winning documentary Blackfish, and uses his expertise to convince federal and state governments to act. 

I was moved to tears many times whilst reading this book.  The orcas are held in a small facility (no better than concrete swimming pools), asked to repeat the same tasks day after day for (rewards) food, they are bred against their will as part of an artificial insemination programme and will never experience the freedom of the ocean.  This is only a small part of awful events surrounding the capture and captivity of orcas.  Their lives are a microcosm that does not even begin to compare to anything they would experience in the wild.  Indeed Hargrove admits that ultimately the orcas are prisoners.  However, what took me by surprise was the clear love and adoration Hargrove and his fellow trainers had for the orcas.  They tried their best to act in the interests of the orcas but Hargrove and some of his fellow trainers realised that to act in the best interests of these creatures they need to remove themselves from the facilitator of their captivity.

This really is an interesting, if upsetting. look at orcas in captivity, the unsafe environment for the trainers and the first step in ending the captivity of these intelligent and beautiful animals.

You will see that I have preferred to use Orca rather than killer whale, this is for two reasons; firstly orcas are part of the dolphin family they are not whales, and secondly the name Killer Whale conjures up all sort of negative connotations.

Although Sea World has ended it's orca breeding programme, there are still orcas held in captivity not just at Sea World but at marine parks all around the world, and I feel it's time to give these animals the respect their deserve.  Wild release may not be an option but sea sanctuaries are a real possibility. 

Bookworm Blessings.  x

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Review: Aunt Dimity and the Duke

Good Afternoon

Today's review is the second novel in the Aunty Dimity series.   

Blurb courtesy of Goodreads website.
Emma Porter is forty, fat, frumpy, and a passionate amateur gardener. When her longtime lover dumps her for a younger woman, Emma escapes the cloying sympathy of family and friends by setting out on a summer-long driving tour of England's glorious gardens. A Dimity-contrived coincidence brings her to Penford Hall, a sprawling Gothic mansion in Cornwall, where she finds a duke in search of a missing lantern with extraordinary powers. Suspecting there's more than one mystery to be solved at Penford Hall, Emma accepts the duke's invitation to stay on and restore the once glorious chapel garden to its former beauty. The dark rumors surrounding a rock star and the near-death of the duke's beautiful cousin confirm Emma's suspicions, and set her--with Aunt Dimity's ghostly guidance--on the path to Penford Hall's secrets and the pleasure of unexpected love.

Published in 1994 by Penguin Books.

Another solid, quaint and cosy mystery from the pen of Nancy Atherton.  This book is a prequel to the first in the series and is about Emma (one of the caretakers of Aunt Dimity's cottage in the first novel).  This novel tells us the story of how Emma falls in love with Derek and how they become the caretakers of the cottage.

The current Duke is keen to return the Hall to it's form glory after the previous Duke sold all the assets and sacked the staff.  Penford Hall's residents have strong admiration for the Duke but just how far will they go to help. 

This second book has a great twist solving the mystery of a dead rockstar and the unfortunate accident of the Duke's cousin. 

Bookworm Blessings and may 2018 be full of bookshelf beauties!