Jason Colby on the history of humans and orcas at the library

  • Tue Sep 11th, 2018 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by the Lopez Island Library

The Lopez Island Library is pleased to feature the second program in the HUMAN/NATURE Fall Speaker Series. On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., Dr. Jason M. Colby from the University of Victoria will present “Orca: How we Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator” at Grace Church.

Since the release of the documentary “Blackfish” in 2013, millions around the world have focused on the plight of the orca, the most profitable and controversial display animal in history. Yet, until now, no historical account has explained how we came to care about killer whales in the first place. Drawing on interviews, official records, private archives and his own family history, Colby tells the exhilarating and often heartbreaking story of how people came to love the ocean’s greatest predator. Historically reviled as dangerous pests, killer whales were dying by the hundreds, even thousands, by the 1950s — the victims of whalers, fishermen and even the U.S. military. But that all changed in 1965, when Seattle entrepreneur Ted Griffin became the first person to swim and perform with a captive killer whale. The show proved wildly popular, and he began capturing and selling others, including Sea World’s first Shamu. Over the following decade, live display transformed views of Orcinus orca. The public embraced killer whales as charismatic and friendly, while scientists enjoyed their first access to live orcas. In the Pacific Northwest, these captive encounters reshaped regional values and helped drive environmental activism, including Greenpeace’s anti-whaling campaigns. As Northwesterners taught the world to love whales, they came to oppose their captivity and to fight for the freedom of a marine predator that had become a regional icon. Colby offers a definitive history of how the feared and despised “killer” became the beloved “orca” — and what that has meant for our relationship with the ocean and its creatures. Colby will be selling and signing books after the presentation. Due to anticipated interest and limited seating, the library is issuing free tickets for Colby’s presentation. Come pick up your ticket at the library circulation desk. The limit is two tickets per person. Sponsored by the Friends of the Lopez Library. All library programs are free and open to the public; Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., Grace Church.