Have you ever seen a whale? Face-to-face with the world’s largest creature, sadly beached on the coast of Western Australia, Rebecca Giggs was captivated. The dying humpback “inspired wonderment, a dilation of the ordinary”.
She went on to write Fathoms, an extended meditation on whales and their place in history, ecology, economy, and mythology. The wonderful team at Scribe were kind enough to send me a copy for review.
Much of our general knowledge about the whale is derived from its symbolic significance for the burgeoning green movement of the ’70s – we’ve all heard the catch-cry, seen the bumper stickers, “Save the whales!”. Giggs takes us back much further than that, to when the whale’s evolutionary ancestors walked on land.
She brings us further forward too, to a world where the whale faces more threats than ever before. Plastics, sound pollution, even supposedly-responsible eco-tourism – all could be death knells for the whale.
Fathoms is a meticulously researched book, rich in detail and emphatic in tone, one that draws our attention to something perhaps even larger than the whale: the legacy of humanity’s impact on the sea and skies.