Orca: The Whale Called Killer


287 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920656-29-3





Reviewed by Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer is a Toronto-based free-lance writer.


Erich Hoyt is a film sound technician who set out in 1973 to help make a documentary on Orcinus orca, the killer whale. This book is his account of five expeditions to the waters off the coast of British Columbia. Hoyt is an excellent writer. His prose is engaging and vivid. He counterpoints his own experiences with stories from various aquariums in Canada and the United States where killers have been studied in captivity. Scattered throughout the book is most of what humanity has gleaned through the ages about these great mammals of the sea: excerpts from Pliny’s writings, a discussion of how killer whales make sounds, a description of feeding habits, an evolutionary tree. However, Hoyt never loses sight of what he set out to do: tell an exciting, first-person story about contact between humans and whales. The eight full-colour plates leave the reader hungry for more. There are also 16 black-and-white photos, plus a handful of line drawings and maps. Orca: The Whale Called Killer is the ideal starting point for a research project: it’s thoroughly indexed, has a 16-page fine-print bibliography, and eight appendices, including “Diet of the Killer Whale: A List of Known Prey,” “World Catch Statistics for Killer Whales,” and “Institutions That Have Kept Killer Whales Captive.”


Hoyt, Erich, “Orca: The Whale Called Killer,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37865.