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.
©2015 John Hargrove and Howard Chua-Eoan (P)2015 Random House Audio
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.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
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...
LOVED this book! Somehow I missed seeing Black Fish, so I watched it right after reading the book. What a journey Mr. Hargrove has been on. Everyone should read Beneath The Surface, it's a real eye opener about what happens behind the scenes. Great job Mr. Hargrove on getting this info to the public and I enjoyed your narration too!
Mother and catlover
It's hard to rate amongst them all, because it's a different genre. Amongst animal-rights and animal training, it rates very high!
I truly liked watching his change of attitude over time. He started out as a glassy eyed loving of the trade child; he learned the trade very well, and he learned about the myths and tragedies. And he kept his eyes open, the entire time, without ever going negative on the company, until it was clear that there was more involved than just "training whales".
YES! He had many personal stories of activities with orcas and people. He kept it believable and interesting, because the job was interesting and believable!
Wow! What a real and informative view from Sea World, and you see the different emotions through which John Hargrove went was realistic and emotional in the love of animals itself!
I enjoyed hearing about his life as a trainer of orcas at Sea World, of going through his trials with the whales themselves and with the administration, and experiencing over time his change of heart about the whole industry. And it was very telling to see his connection to the whales and the people WILL whom he worked. About three quarters of the way through, I felt necessary to go back and actually watch the movie "Blackfish" (free online) to get a feel for some of what he was talking about.
Like I said, wow! Highly recommended for anyone interested in seeing or participating in any kind of animal training! Depending on the particular breed of animal and conditions, well, let's just say that at least you should go in with your eyes open! We humans are constantly learning that we treat other animals WRONG, at least, as long as someone is making money off it :-(.
I always loved Sea World until a trip to Orlando in 2007 when I sudden realized that there wasn't some really huge tank in the back. When it dawned on me that the show tank was the best that it got for them was appalled and vowed that I would never go back. Blackfish confirmed many fears for the orcas that I had. Beneath the Surface then takes most of those stories even deeper. It is very interesting and sad all at the same time. I would highly recommend it.
YES! EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO READ THIS BOOK... (including age-appropriate children -- especially -- age-appropriate children. I still hold resentment to those who misled me when I was a child. Who lied to me? Who taught me that it was ok to kidnap, enslave and even kill whales and dolphins, as long as it makes big corporate bucks? Was it only my parents? My school; IE: fieldtrips? My church? HOW ABOUT TEACHING TRUTH AND COMPASSION NOW...? AND NOT WAIT UNTIL OUR KIDS GROW UP before they learn that this disgraceful treatment of animals is not standard operating procedure. Why wait another day?
"She was in charge now & my fate was of her choosing. I was desperate for some inkling that she might still be willing to cooperate with me and the other trainers, but Freya wasn't playing; I could see it in her wide open, upset eyes, the red veins showing around the blue iris's. The muscles of her back were tight. I recognized the sounds she was emitting..."
Passion in every word spoken, as he relives his time with orca whales since he was a young boy. Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts and for giving us the determination to fight even harder---until every tank is empty.
Seaworld cares just as little about the humans working for their corporation as they do the animals they enslave for "entertainment."Every human who has ever used these breathtaking, awesome, highly familial and intelligent creatures to make money should all serve prison terms: confined for 25-40 years in a concrete bathtub.... inside a prison cell. They can get out of it for a half hour 'show' every afternoon walking on their hands in the prison yard- maybe.
I am too well aware that preaching to the choir has often done more harm than good in this "movement." Not the case with "Beneath The Surface." From beginning to end, This book revealed things to (even) me about whales, and Seaworld, etc. that I was ignorant about. I used to love Seaworld when I was a kid, and, although I have always been uncomfortable with the confinement of animals, I didn't absolutely refuse to go until my parents gave me a "choice." One vivid memory I have while sittting in Shamu Stadium is watching the whales and dolphins wade in their small, concrete enclosures; waiting to be called out to the "bigger pool" to do their tricks. I always thought those smaller pools were merely "holding areas" before/during "show time." Little did I know that THOSE WERE IT! There were no huge swimming areas "behind the scenes" etc.It's hard for me to imagine anyone reading "Beneath The Surface" and still buying tickets. Absolutely mind-blowing. And after reading John talk, I don't wonder why Tillikum kills his trainers, I wonder why he doesn't kill ALL of them. (Except for the fact that he can no longer interact with people...and he doesn't even understand why!) I watched Blackfish a dozen times and cried every single time. I was mesmerized, traumatized, heartbroken, stunned. I learned a world of valuable information about Orcas that I never knew before. Seaworld surely isn't teaching it- and they put the CON in conservation. I think "Beneath The Surface" goes even deeper than Blackfish, because we are reminded about a little boy who's whole dream of life was to understand and work with the whales he loved so much. And how this same boy (at heart) left the animals he loved so much so he could create a platform and speak for them, shedding truth on corporate psychobabble.
John Hargrove's poignant and thoroughly engaging writing mirrors his deliberate and fearless approach to the majesty of the beings he so openly loves. With the martial foresight of a judo master and the lithe aggression of a Greco-Roman wrestler, he calls out all takers to the mat to grapple the truth to exhaustion from every angle, whether they be seemingly impregnable or heart-wrenchingly vulnerable. He teaches by his example the importance of both honest spiritual integrity and brazen accountability with the ferocious innocence of his beloved orca. Tough and toughly written, he reminds me that after all, the heart is a muscle designed for wrenching. Brilliant.
While many will simply write off this as a disgruntled trainer getting back at Seaworld, it isn't. It's the story of boy with a dream who worked hard to achieve it and then learned the insider truth about the animals he loved so much. Compelling story and eye opening about the conditions these majestic and intelligent animals are kept it.
This book is great! Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The only thing I did not like was the author/narrators voice. It lacked emotion and is very mono-tone.
Fascinating stories and revelations about orcas and about SeaWorld. At some points I was deeply moved by Hargrove's passion. More than discussing the evils of SeaWorld, this book is a rare account of the lives of Orcas (both on captivity and in the wild), and the truly astounding relationships they can form with humans.
Very informative and haunting in some parts. I hope one day these magnificent animals are left alone to live a normal life.
"very powerful, and emotionally moving "
It is a wonderful insight into the world of captured orcas, the truth being told and bringing out the sad truth about the people and Wales exploited by Seaworld.
"ESSENTIAL READING FOR THIS TOPIC"
This is a fantastic exposure of the dark side of keeping Killer Whales and Dolphins in captivity in conditions so far removed from their natural habitat that it is pure cruelty.
Anyone considering buying a Ticket to SeaWorld or MarineLand would be well advised to read this and watch the film BLACKFISH.
John's love for the Orca's he worked with is clear and his story inspiring. It is refreshing to hear the truth about seaworld from within the corporation itself. I grew up going to the Shamu show and noted that I always ended up crying, usually happy tears because shows such as 'Believe' could evoke such emotion and 'brainwash' you into thinking that the bond between whale and trainer was magical almost. Some of the stories in the book were hard to listen to, especially the separation of mother daughter whales when tier bond is so strong. Overall, a very well put together book and I am pleased that we finally have the truth.
"Orcas in captivity"
Read this after seeing Blackfish, a must read and good insight into orcas in captivity and life for the trainers. It's a no brainier these animals should not be in captivity, they are being exploited for amusement and greed, read and make up your own mind
"Everyone should listen to this story!"
Loved this audio! As an Orca lover since the age of 10 when I visited Seaworld Florida for my first and only time. I knew from that young age that I had to learn more about them and I was positive they DID NOT BELONG IN CAPTIVITY!!
This audio describes in detail just how much Orcas suffer being held captive and I have been wanting them to be freed like they all should be however a chapter in this book has made me realise that this will never be possible in the same way wild Orca are free! These captive Orcas are to badly damaged due to the way they have been treated.
This realisation saddens me deeply as I have spent the last 21 years hoping that one day they would be free!
I thank John Hargrove and all the other ex trainers for now standing up against Seaworld and I hope and pray that for all the captive whales over the world that if there is no way to free them into the wild then they are provided with a much better environment than they are in now and treated with more respect as the magnificent animals they are NOT MONEY MAKING PROPERTY OF HUMANS!!
"A MUST for all!"
If you've seen documentaries such as 'blackfish' and 'the cove' then this book will be a big hit with you!
John has produced a raw, captivating and eye opening book about what goes on 'behind the scenes' at seaworld and no doubt other animal entertainment establishments world wide.
Just like 'blackfish' and 'the cove' this will leave you angry and saddened by what is happening to these poor animals in captivity.
This book should be read by all animal lovers and non animal lovers alike. For educational purposes alone.
Thank you John for being brave, bold, open and honest about seaworld and it's wrong doings.
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