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Beneath the Surface Audiobook

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Marsha L. Woerner Chicago area 06-23-15
    Marsha L. Woerner Chicago area 06-23-15 Member Since 2005
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    "Animals, Vs. the Bottom Line"
    Where does Beneath the Surface rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's hard to rate amongst them all, because it's a different genre. Amongst animal-rights and animal training, it rates very high!


    What did you like best about this story?

    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".


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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!


    Any additional comments?

    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 :-(.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sealilly34 04-10-15
    Sealilly34 04-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing Story"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Boeder Baton Rouge, LA 07-24-17
    M. Boeder Baton Rouge, LA 07-24-17
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    "Excellent book to read after watching 'Blackfish'"

    This is a moving and detailed account of what it takes to become a sea world trainer with a clear progression from sea world fan/protector to animal advocate. With his story John makes you love his former job and the orcas yet by the end you feel sick and hopefully you'll become an advocate like John and many others did. This is a perfect companion book if you are planning on watching 'Blackfish'.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Olivia 07-11-17
    Olivia 07-11-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Such an awesome book!"

    This book is a must read for anyone who watched the documentary Blackfish! It is such an intelligent, thrilling story, and the fact that John Hargrove narrated it is absolutely perfect!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Huerta 06-13-17
    Ray Huerta 06-13-17
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    ""Great Book""

    John Hargrove did a great job on this book. He's the man. This book was phenomenal. I need more!!!!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-16-15
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-16-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Tragic, Brutal"

    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...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill BUENA PARK, CA, United States 04-04-15
    Jill BUENA PARK, CA, United States 04-04-15 Member Since 2017
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    "RIVETING!!!!!"

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yolanda S. Bean Chicago, IL 04-21-17
    Yolanda S. Bean Chicago, IL 04-21-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Wow!!!"

    This book has been on my wishlist to read since I watched Blackfish over the holidays a few years ago. Though heart-breaking, the documentary is so well done and informative. When I saw that one of the ex-trainers who had participated in the documentary wrote more about his own experiences, I knew that I wanted to read it - and then when I found out that he performed the audio version, I knew that was the way I wanted to experience it - and I am so glad that I did!

    There is definitely some overlap from the documentary (which I would actually recommend viewing before listening/reading to this one, or even watching it during the same time period). It is an engaging experience and one that I definitely found myself listening to at every opportunity - not just during my commute. It definitely made me cry at times, but I think that Hargrove's story comes across very clearly and it is easy to sympathize with him, even as others criticize him for the time he spent "on the other side". But his story - because he clearly shows both sides of being within SeaWorld and being outside of it - is all the important and one that I am sure one that many will find moving. After finishing it, I only wanted to listen to more about these amazing creatures!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Blondie California 04-14-17
    Blondie California 04-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "very good and interesting"

    I love it . tried to read it on my own in paperback I couldn't get through it . found it on Audible it's so much better when somebody read's it to you its even better the narrator is John Hargrove .. some. audible book's I can't stand The narrator's Voice... even if it is the author of the book but John has nice voice recommended to anybody who is interested in killer whales in general ..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace Bellevue, WA 02-01-17
    Grace Bellevue, WA 02-01-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Couldn't stop listening"

    I oftentimes get bored with books. This one however held my intrigue from start to finish. This is a beautiful story and the author does a great job narrating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • James
    Gloucester, United Kingdom
    8/22/16
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    "Great"

    Very informative and haunting in some parts. I hope one day these magnificent animals are left alone to live a normal life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • jennifer
    3/14/16
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Frankimunk
    Bristol, UK
    1/6/16
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gemma
    6/7/15
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    "Eye-opening!"

    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.
    Y

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Christopher C.
    5/5/15
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    "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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cheryl Cromie
    4/22/15
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    "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!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anita
    4/13/15
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    9/6/17
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    "great listen very entertaining and informative"

    great listen very entertaining and informative very sad at times I also learnt a lot

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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