In the non-fiction tradition of Rachel Carson, Rebecca Solnit, and Helen Macdonald comes a bold, lyrical exploration of our fraught relationship with the sea’s most charismatic mammal, the whale.
Whales loom large in the world’s environmental imagination. From a history of the animals being harpooned worldwide to today’s ecotourism operators and the work of marine biologists, the attachment of humans to whales is much more than metaphoric. That whales have, for centuries, attracted myth, symbolism, and significance has been a pivotal factor in determining their current protection.
And yet whales, and the waters that are their habitat, are changing. Even as the international community draws closer to a ban on factory whaling, whales surface with disturbing news from the deep. Whale strandings — once an encounter with wild, oceanic life — now force us to consider the complex contributions of humans to ecological change in the sea. Pollution and toxins accrued in whale bodies, plastics consumed by whales, the stress of exposure to industrial sound in the sea, and diseases contracted from livestock: all these, and more, are impacts linked to human activity.
Searching, thought-provoking, and timely, Fathoms pursues the stories we tell about whales, what those stories signal about how we imagine our own species, and what whales reveal about the health of the planet.