The Killer Whale Who Changed the World: 

Published by Greystone in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute

Until July 16, 1964 the world thought killer whales were monsters - then the world met Moby Doll. 
  • "Outstanding and inspirational." Marc Bekoff
  • "Lively and entertaining." Jason Colby
  • "Detailed, edifying and amazing." Philip Hoare

Why Wait? Get the book now (from Amazon):

Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

"A much appreciated history of the very first Orca captured and placed in captivity.

This story is especially poignant to me. [...]

This series of events that began in 1964 with Moby Doll led to Vancouver becoming the birthplace of both the Greenpeace Foundation, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Save the Whales movement, a movement inspired by the first victim of the horrific slave trade in Orcas and Dolphins."

Maclean's 2016-09-17

"A superb and well-told history lesson spiced with sharp-witted asides.

In many ways, in fact, humans are Leiren-Young's real subject.  He effectively argues we can be incredibly blind and unreasoning.  that's the costly bad news.  That we're also capable of reformulating our thinking and can achieve species-wide change in an eye blink is the hopeful bit.  Given the manifold threats to the natural world and our part in them all, the author's view is a welcome one.?"

In the Book, You Will Discover:

When Killer Whales Were Monsters

"Burich takes his place behind an antique muzzle-loaded Norwegian harpoon gun and lines up his target. The bigger whales seem to sense trouble and swim back out to sea. But the smallest one looks Burich right in the eye.  Burich stares back at his prey and gauges the distance. It’s no more than ninety feet away. His gun’s range is a hundred .  He braces for the recoil from the gunpowder charge and fires."

How the World Fell in Love with Whales

"As daylight faded— along with the shock of what they’d done—they felt it was less like having a killer on the end of the line than a dog on a leash. And now that their captive had become their companion, it needed a name. Although the Beatles were taking over the teenaged world, for adults this was still the age of Elvis. Burich dubbed the killer Hound Dog."

The Secret Origins of Greenpeace

"It wasn’t Skana who initially caught Spong’s attention, though. It was Moby Doll. I walked into Dr. Pat McGeer's lab on the UBC campus nd the first thing I encountered was this huge jar with a massive brain sitting in the corner. That was the brain of Moby Doll."

 Save the Orcas

"Orcas have a language and a culture that predates ours, so how do we justify imprisoning them or, more importantly, destroying their habitat? Orcas may not need the right to vote, but if they are declared “persons,” then it becomes di cult to argue that human rights supersede their rights—and orcas still live in every ocean on the planet."

About the Author: Mark Leiren-Young

Mark Leiren-Young is a journalist, filmmaker and author of numerous books, including Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, for which he won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and The Green Chain, which is based on his award-winning film of the same name. His article for the Walrus about Moby Doll, the first orca publicly exhibited in captivity, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and he won the Jack Webster award for his CBC Idea's radio documentary Moby Doll: The Whale that Changed the World. Leiren-Young is currently finishing a feature length film documentary on Moby Doll.

What People Are Saying

Marc Bekoff, Author, University of Colorado

“The Killer Whale Who Changed the World is an outstanding and inspirational 'autobiography' of Moby Doll, the first publicly exhibited orca captured off the west coast of North America.  Most people don't know what happens to these magnificent sentient beings behind closed doors or beneath the surface, and when they discover the miserable lives -- the deep pain, suffering, humiliation, and death -- these icons of the ocean are forced to endure, they are shocked.  Similar to the award-winning Blackfish, this book could be a game changer.  By seeing just whom these 'blackfishes' are, people can rewild themselves and connect with them so that these awesome giants will benefit.  It's high time to get these beings out of their aquatic prisons once and for all.”

Philip Hoare, Author of The Whale and The Sea Inside

“Our relationship with cetaceans has changed dramatically, and generally for the better in the past fifty years.  But there is a dark story to be told of our use and abuse of these animals, for our own entertainment.  Mark Leiren-Young lays out the distressing tale of the capture of wild orca in the 20th century, and how one particular whale, Moby became a kind of martyr.  His book is detailed, edifying and amazing; it speaks to our dysfunctional relationship with the wild.  It seems like ancient history now.  Yet it was only a generation ago that killer whales were misdefined by their name and our sense of dominion.  But out of this terrible narrative, Leiren-Young looks to a better future for whales, and the way we see them.  Have we learned Moby's message?"

John Ford, Department of Zoology & Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia

“Once widely feared as dangerous vermin to be shot on sight, killer whales are today cherished icons of the wild west coast.  In this highly readable and engaging book, Mark Leiren-Young documents in extraordinary detail the events surrounding the capture of the killer whale Moby Doll, the world's first captive killer whale displayed to the public.  Despite surviving only a few months, Moby doll was pivotal in triggering this sea change in public attitudes towards orcas, from pests to paragons.”

Dave Neiwert,Author of Orcas and Men

“An utterly fascinating read - full of revealing detail, rich with insight an, in the end, a profoundly moving work that illuminates the history of the fast-evolving changes in our relationship with one of the planet's most intriguing and intelligent creatures.”

Jason Colby, Associate Professor and specialist in the history of killer whales, University of Victoria

“In this lively and entertaining book, Mark Leiren-Young tells Moby Doll's story as no one has before." 

Erich Hoyt,Author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer

“The story of Moby Doll is one of those turning point tales that shows how far we've come in our relationship with animals and the sea. Bravo to Mark Leiren-Young for going back and digging into the deep layers and muck of some of these stories and giving us the perspective of time and a measure of the wisdom that we are now gaining about the amazing orca. ”

Scott Renyard, director of Who Killed Miracle

“Leiren-Young's account of Moby Doll's story is captivating, in more ways than one.  But in the end, it's Moby Doll and this highly evolved that now captivates us.

Leiren-Young's account of Moby Doll's story is chilling  . . .  I couldn't help but think how awkward we humans can be.  This story begins with the task of collecting, effectively a museum sample.  But the bungled attempt at killing an Orca, changed the way we see them.  An insightful read." 

Library Journal,2016-01-08

“(Leiren-Young) skillfully weaves whaling history and information about the growth of scientific knowledge of the whale life cycle and social behaviour into this account . . . This well written book will appeal to general readers interested in the topic."

Michael Byers,Author of Who Owns the Arctic?

"I devoured this new book by Mark Leiren-Young last week and cannot recommend it strongly enough. If you live on Canada's West Coast, read this book. If you want to understanding why people in BC love this coast and want to protect it from pipelines and tankers, read this book.”

Times Colonist,2016-10-02

"It is a brilliant piece of work, one of the most engaging and readable works of British Columbia history in years. That Leiren-Young is a master with words is evident on every page."

Vancouver Sun2016-09-17

Whale of a tale sketches out shift from assassin to orca.

The Killer Whale Who Changed the World is the result of his two-decade relationship researching the blackfish, in particular, the icon of the species, Moby Doll . . . Leiren-Young puts it all out there, without censor.

His tribute is a compelling compendium and a love letter to a threatened population that deserves your attention and affection." 

Meet Moby Doll - The Killer Whale Who Changed the World 

Available in bookstores everywhere.

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