A book by Canadian author Farley Mowat, first published by Little, Brown and Company in 1972. Mowat tells the true story of a Fin Whale trapped by the tides in a coastal pond near his home of Burgeo, Newfoundland in 1967. The description of the pregnant female circling the pond day after day while her mate anxiously waits on the other side of the shallows is distressing enough, but there is more. The human population of Burgeo first uses the whale for target practice, then harasses her with speedboats, and finally exploits her for political and social gains. Mowat also writes in terrible detail of the history of commercial whaling, the decline of the population of whales of all species, and the unwillingness of any nation or group to protect the whales. It seems to him that whales, especially the Great Whales or rorquals, are to the oceans what humans are to the land. Human science has barely begun to understand anything about them, yet there are indications that these masters of the oceans are every bit as complex and intelligent as humans.
Mowat writes from the viewpoint of an outraged outsider, although he had been living in the community for several years before the whale tragedy. He recounts his admiration for the people of the little outpost, their self-sufficiency and their honesty, but he finds himself shocked by the dark side shown by his neighbors during the whale emergency:
The whale was not alone in being trapped. We were all trapped with her. If the natural patterns of her life had been disrupted, then so had ours. An awesome mystery had intruded into the closely circumscribed order of our lives; one that we terrestrial bipeds could not fathom, and one, therefore, that we would react against with instinctive fear, violence, and hatred. This riddle from the deeps was the measure of humanity's unquenchable ignorance of life. This impenetrable secret, which had become the core of our existence in theis place, was a mirror in which we saw our own distempered faces...and they were ugly.
Mowat and others, some from the far corners of the world, worked to save the whale, to feed her and to help her escape her prison. I wish that they had succeeded, that one day people from all walks of life worked together, and that they realized something good about one another as they watched the whale's joyful return to the sea. Unfortunately, Disney did not write this story and it does not have a happy resolution.