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"A magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life." —Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in settler cultures as "killer whales," and respected and honored "A magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life." —Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in settler cultures as "killer whales," and respected and honored by Indigenous cultures as friends, family, or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas. A richly illustrated literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.


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"A magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life." —Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in settler cultures as "killer whales," and respected and honored "A magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life." —Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in settler cultures as "killer whales," and respected and honored by Indigenous cultures as friends, family, or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas. A richly illustrated literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.

35 review for Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in science, art and history

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eve Rickert

    Full disclosure: I am the publisher and the proofreader of this book. I don't normally review books I work on, but this one is special. Because oh my god, this book is beautiful. I have actually cried multiple times working on it, reading a passage or coming across a photo...ever time I turn a page, I am amazed—or gutted—by something new I see. This is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful things I've ever worked on, and I hope, one of the most important. Spirits of the Coast is an antholog Full disclosure: I am the publisher and the proofreader of this book. I don't normally review books I work on, but this one is special. Because oh my god, this book is beautiful. I have actually cried multiple times working on it, reading a passage or coming across a photo...ever time I turn a page, I am amazed—or gutted—by something new I see. This is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful things I've ever worked on, and I hope, one of the most important. Spirits of the Coast is an anthology of writing, original artwork and photography by scientists, artists, wilderness guides, activists and elders from across cultures and generations. In its pages, we learn the stories of Luna, Skana, Granny, Tahlequah, Haida and Tilikum, Namu and Shamu, Rhapsody, and many more...and of course, our beloved and imperilled Southern Residents. You'll love them, you'll cry for them, and I hope you'll put the book down wanting to help them. This book is an introduction to the biology, ecology and culture of orcas. It's a celebration (and sometimes a critique) of the many varied relationships we humans have had with them over millennia. It's a collected testimony of eco-grief. But more than anything, it's a love letter to the Salish Sea, and the non-human people we share it with, and must protect it for.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Madison

    As a lover of all thing orca I knew I just had to read this book. And it was beautiful from cover to cover. There are many books out there about orcas, from introductory marine science books for kids to exposés about orcas in captivity. Spirits of the Coast captures all of that, as well as the elements I have often found to be missing from previous books, most notably that of an indigenous perspective. Through stories, poems, retellings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, museum exhibits, reflect As a lover of all thing orca I knew I just had to read this book. And it was beautiful from cover to cover. There are many books out there about orcas, from introductory marine science books for kids to exposés about orcas in captivity. Spirits of the Coast captures all of that, as well as the elements I have often found to be missing from previous books, most notably that of an indigenous perspective. Through stories, poems, retellings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, museum exhibits, reflections, and articles, Spirits of the Coast captures a wide perspective on the amazing orcas and their history of interactions with humans. From the heartbreaking and despairing to the hopeful and uplifting, Spirits of the Coast is a powerful compendium. Spirits of the Coast is divided into three main sections: Connection, Captivity and Consciousness. Throughout each, the power and magnificence of the orca is clearly portrayed. There is respect and awe and it seeps through every word, photograph and artwork. At all times this is a book about orcas from a human perspective. That perspective spans many generations, cultures, opinions and angles. I loved that it contains many works of art, stories, and retellings from an indigenous perspective. Other books on orcas and their interactions with humans often neglect this perspective. It is so important. As I read the foreword I discovered that Spirits of the Coast is a companion to the Royal BC Museum’s 2020 feature exhibition Orcas: Our Shared Future. I talked myself out of immediately booking myself a plane ticket (can’t justify the waste of out planet’s resources to fuel my own desire to be there in person) and contented myself with reading this book from cover to cover. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking journey. As they so often do, the stories about orcas in this book brought me to tears and the poignant history is both informative and captivating. The contributors to this book vary greatly and come from a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives, including scientists, first nations peoples, museum curators, photographers, historians, artists and more. Yet, despite the investigation of the past, like the exhibit, this book points to the future and the importance of the orca’s role in it. Spirits of the Coast is perfect for historians, researchers, museum visitors or lovers of orcas. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This book begins where it should, with a tale of supernatural Orcas told by GwaaGanad Diane Brown, Ts'aahl Eagle woman of the Haida Nation, to her daughter-in-law Kihlgula Gaay-ya Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Some young Haida men embarked on a hunting trip only to be lost at sea. They returned after three years with a tale of living in Japan, then having the privilege of being guided back to their home by the Orcas. With this story begins, a lovely book about Orcas and their interconnectedness to us. Th This book begins where it should, with a tale of supernatural Orcas told by GwaaGanad Diane Brown, Ts'aahl Eagle woman of the Haida Nation, to her daughter-in-law Kihlgula Gaay-ya Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Some young Haida men embarked on a hunting trip only to be lost at sea. They returned after three years with a tale of living in Japan, then having the privilege of being guided back to their home by the Orcas. With this story begins, a lovely book about Orcas and their interconnectedness to us. This book is a collection of essays, stories, photos, and art. As one might expect from a book curated by the Royal BC Museum, this is a respectful, factual and beautiful account of Orcas. The written contributions cover a wide variety of topics: political discussions about the health and future of Orcas, their captivity for study, the distinctiveness of the BC Coastal Orca pods, multiple threats the whales face, stories told by Indigenous people. One of the common themes of the Indigenous stories in the book is the connection that is felt between the Orca and the various peoples of the Coast. Agreements were made in the past with the Orcas to exist in harmony, the Orcas have saved Indigenous people who were in danger. there is a beautiful Haida story that reveals that Orcas are the "embodied souls of humans" who drowned at sea.  This book isn't all history and science. There is a fascinating chapter on pop culture and the ongoing evolution of its relationship with the Orca. We have gone from hunting to watching them in captivity, to wanting to free them. The easily recognizable image of the Orca has been in films, books, TV shows, on baseball caps and lunch boxes. There are famous Orcas that we have embraced over the years, not all of whom have lived happily or in the wild. But we've always been intrigued by them. This book would make a beautiful gift for someone with connections to the Salish sea, but it's also amazing to read if you just love Orcas. This is such an interesting mix of stories, essays, photos, and artwork. I would gladly recommend this to any reader.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D.J.

    Many trips to the BC Coast and to be able to see the Orcas was always a highlight of my time there... there are many books and stories of the Orcas. However this book is a collection of essays, stories, photos, and art giving the respectful, and beautiful account of Orcas as one might expect with a book curated by the Royal BC Museum. It starts with the tale of supernatural Orcas as told by the Haida Nation, covers a wide variety of topics: political, health, future, captivity, distinctiveness an Many trips to the BC Coast and to be able to see the Orcas was always a highlight of my time there... there are many books and stories of the Orcas. However this book is a collection of essays, stories, photos, and art giving the respectful, and beautiful account of Orcas as one might expect with a book curated by the Royal BC Museum. It starts with the tale of supernatural Orcas as told by the Haida Nation, covers a wide variety of topics: political, health, future, captivity, distinctiveness and threats of the Orcas, but isn't all history and science, includes stories as told by the Indigenous people the ongoing evolution of our relationship with the Orcas, we have always been intrigued by them. A beatuiful book for yourself and as a gift to someone who wants to have the connections with the BC Orcas.

  5. 4 out of 5

    CR

    This was an amazing title about some of the most magnificent creatures on our planet. From science to art this book gives you a well rounded and beautiful look at Orcas. I could not put it down and myself and my kids were amazed at all the information thats in this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    ZMJ

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kait Barber

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kay Card

  11. 5 out of 5

    A

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Santiago

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kit Fox

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Harless

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Francine

  20. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shantel May

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Coridan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bannister

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  28. 4 out of 5

    CS Taylor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

  31. 4 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  32. 4 out of 5

    amy

  33. 5 out of 5

    G.

  34. 5 out of 5

    Traci

  35. 4 out of 5

    Scott Frost

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