The Breath of a Whale: The Science and Spirit of Pa­cific Ocean Gi­ants

Leigh Calvez

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction - ANNA CALL

Sasquatch Books (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $19.95 (240pp), 978-1-63217-186-3

With style, ac­ces­si­ble writ­ing, and a nar­ra­tive of per­sonal growth and dis­cov­ery, Leigh Calvez’s The Breath of a Whale is both more pos­i­tive and more per­sonal than other books of its type. It is a softer take on the en­vi­ron­men­tal calami­ties that dev­as­tate whale pop­u­la­tions and hu­man morale.

Calvez’s semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ac­count of sev­eral close en­coun­ters with whales and dol­phins, as well as with the re­searchers who ded­i­cate their lives to the study of ma­rine mam­mals, is un­abashed in call­ing for the con­ser­va­tion of whales and pro­tec­tion of their en­vi­ron­ment. It does so with per­son­al­ity, sen­si­tiv­ity, and clear love for cetaceans.

While the whales star, Calvez’s spir­i­tual jour­ney is a sig­nif­i­cant and im­por­tant part of the book. She ref­er­ences her ca­reer, per­sonal life, emo­tional state, and health reg­u­larly, usu­ally ty­ing them back to her work in con­ser­va­tion and es­pe­cially with whales. The per­sonal lives of whales fea­ture promi­nently; whale fam­i­lies, whale cul­ture, and whale tool cus­toms all serve to make th­ese gi­ant and still mys­te­ri­ous sea crea­tures more fa­mil­iar.

The book walks a fine line be­tween ac­knowl­edg­ing the com­plex be­hav­iors of whales and pro­ject­ing hu­man­ity onto the crea­tures. It in­vests it­self in hu­man­ity’s role as guardians of the en­vi­ron­ment. It nods to the fact that stay­ing strong in the face of en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion is dif­fi­cult, but ul­ti­mately ex­presses faith in hu­man­ity and hope for the fu­ture of whales world­wide.

The Breath of a Whale will please those who love whales and dol­phins, as well as ci­ti­zen en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists who ded­i­cate them­selves to ocean ecol­ogy. This book deal­ing with the en­vi­ron­ment dur­ing a fraught time is still light, en­joy­able–– and rec­om­mended.

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