We Are All Whalers

Michael J. Moore / University of Chicago Press / 224 pages 

With We Are All Whalers: The Plight of Whales and Our Responsibility, Dr. Michael Moore proves definitively that he is no ivory tower scientist. He speaks with passion about his decades-long research on whales and his fascination with these intriguing animals. At the outset of the book, Moore issues readers a challenge, admitting that he is hoping to convince us that the welfare and very survival of the fewer than 340 remaining North Atlantic right whales are in our hands. 

There is no one better suited to take on this task. Moore has solid academic credentials, including a veterinary degree from Cambridge University and a doctorate from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to having studied whales for more than 40 years, he has an in-depth knowledge of the whaling industry. One of his early jobs was as an International Whaling Commission observer on an Icelandic whaling vessel, monitoring the time it took harpooned fin whales to die. 

Ably threading the needle between science and activism, Moore paints a vivid, heart-wrenching picture of the lingering suffering that whales—the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, in particular—experience when they become entangled in fishing gear or are struck by ships. While many researchers shy away from emotion, Moore openly moves into the minds of individual right whales, inviting the reader to feel both a whale’s despair and his own. Moore’s absolute honesty helps build his case as he directly links the plight of the North Atlantic right whale to the choices individuals make regarding seafood products and maritime industry services. 

Despite the oft-times grim reading, Moore provides the reader with a list of actions that they can take, thus providing cause for hope. He remains optimistic that the right whale can be saved, if we whalers demand meaningful changes in the seafood and maritime industries.

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