Hanne Strager

Jun 29, 2023

The Killer Whale Journals

Our Love and Fear of Orcas

Johns Hopkins University Press 2023

Like wolves, orcas have been loved and loathed throughout history. What created this complicated relationship between humans and whales? And have we changed our attitudes toward them and their habitat needs in time to save them? Science writer and biologist Hanne Strager joins us to share:

  • How a conversation in a cafeteria led her to remote corners of the world.
  • Why her sister helped her be in two places at once.
  • How she learned about whale dialects.
  • Why the loss of a pod member matters so much.
  • A discussion of the book The Killer Whale Journals: Our Love and Fear of Orcas (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2023).

Today’s book is: The Killer Whale Journals: Our Love and Fear of Orcas, by Hanne Strager, which opens as intrepid biology student Hanne Strager volunteers to be the cook on a small research vessel in Norway's Lofoten Islands. This trip would inspire a decades-long journey to learn about the lives of killer whales—and an exploration of people's complex relationships with the biggest predators on earth. In The Killer Whale Journals, Strager brings us along with her as she battles the stormy Arctic seas of northern Norway with fellow biologists intent on decoding whale-song and dialects, interviews First Nations conservationists in Vancouver, observes Inuit hunters in Greenland, and witnesses the dismantling of black market "whale jails" in the Russian wilderness of Kamchatka. Featuring photographs from Paul Nicklen, The Killer Whale Journals reveals rare and intimate moments of connection with these fierce, brilliant predators.

Our guest is: Hanne Strager, who is a biologist, whale researcher, and the future Director of Exhibitions and Visitor Experience at The Whale, a museum in Norway set to open in 2025. She cofounded a whale center in Norway and has served as the Director of Exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. She is the author of A Modest Genius: The Story of Darwin’s Life and How His Ideas Changed Everything, and The Killer Whale Journals: Our Love and Fear of Orcas.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who holds a PhD in American history. She has served as creator and producer of the Academic Life since she launched it in 2020. The Academic Life is proud to be an academic partner of New Books Network.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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