Beneath the Surface

  • by John Hargrove, Howard Chua-Eoan
  • Narrated by John Hargrove
  • 8 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Over the course of two decades, John Hargrove worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of SeaWorld's U.S. facilities. For Hargrove, becoming an orca trainer fulfilled a childhood dream. However, as his experience with the whales deepened, Hargrove came to doubt that their needs could ever be met in captivity. When two fellow trainers were killed by orcas in marine parks, Hargrove decided that SeaWorld's wildly popular programs were both detrimental to the whales and ultimately unsafe for trainers.
After leaving SeaWorld, Hargrove became one of the stars of the controversial documentary Blackfish. The outcry over the treatment of SeaWorld's orca has now expanded beyond the outlines sketched by the award-winning documentary, with Hargrove contributing his expertise to an advocacy movement that is convincing both federal and state governments to act.
In Beneath the Surface, Hargrove paints a compelling portrait of these highly intelligent and social creatures, including his favorite whales Takara and her mother Kasatka, two of the most dominant orcas in SeaWorld. And he includes vibrant descriptions of the lives of orcas in the wild, contrasting their freedom in the ocean with their lives in SeaWorld.
Hargrove's journey is one that humanity has just begun to take - toward the realization that the relationship between the human and animal worlds must be radically rethought.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Tragic, Brutal

I remember my sister and I went whale watching once over in the Pacific Northwest. From our boat, we could see another one almost tipping over because everyone was crowded on one side, oohing and ahhing at a multitude of orcas who were watching the humans just as intently, "smiles" on their faces. It was hilarious, and they were, and are, the most precious, gentle creatures imaginable.
So this book is a real kick in the gut, and some of it is so brutal that it's downright painful to hear. But it needs to be listened to because only public awareness and action will stop it. I've always believed that by turning away to spare myself pain, I'm only perpetuating the pain and suffering of others.
Hargrove spares nothing here as he spent countless years at SeaWorld and, he admits, was a believer for so long. These animals were denied food as punishment, were put in pens with other whales who would attack. Captivity caused almost constant aggression, illnesses, neurotic behavior (like eating paint and sand): all unheard of in the wild. And this is what the whales live with year after year, one agonizing day at a time.
The separation of mothers and calves caused me grief, and SeaWorld's artificial insemination program is so graphically described that I can't help but think of it as one of the grossest violations possible.
This is an extraordinary book, and though I've listed only the things that incensed me, there are other enlightening and inspiring things. (Phew, right?) It drags a bit at the beginning, but it's well worth the credit.
If killer whales and man are the two "apex predators," man is by far the more brutal of the two...
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- Gillian "SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!"

Incredible!

I couldn't stop listening. Anyone who has seen Blackfish definitely needs to read this. Thank you, John Hargrove, for speaking out about the truth behind Sea World's killer whale program and the first-hand, eye-witness truth about the dangers faced on all sides when whales are kept in captivity for public spectacle.
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- teri

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-24-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio