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The Witness Is a Whale

Nick Dean & Cheryl Dean

52 min 00 secs

United States


A detective story spanning 60 years and half the globe, The Witness Is a Whale documents the uncovering of a massive illegal and secret slaughter of over 200,000 whales by the Soviet Union and Japan in the 1960’s, an act described by scientists as “one of the greatest environmental crimes of the 20th century.” Using interviews with Soviet era whaling scientists and whalers, contemporary conservation biologists from around the world, along with rare personal archival material, The Witness Is a Whale tells this story for the first time. What starts as an exposure of Soviet illegal whaling leads into a larger and darker story, as former Soviet whalers accuse Japan of also secretly killing whales, an act that Japan has never confessed to, even now as they reinstate commercial whaling. The ramifications of removing so many whales from the ocean are revealed with examples of whales exhibiting both intimate and previously undocumented behavior. This is accompanied by descriptions of the successful recovery of many whale populations and our increasing scientific understanding of their importance in ocean ecosystems.

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