Why Whales Matter

A lecture and book signing with Joshua Horwitz, author of the new book: War of the Whales: A true story.

Thursday, August 14th at  7:00 p.m.
Reception at 6:00 p.m.

Whales have always mattered deeply to humans, going back to ancient times when they were revered by coastal dwellers as emissaries from their gods. For centuries, they mattered to whalers around the world as a highly-valued commercial commodity – until many species collapsed under the pressures of industrial whaling in the 20th Century. At the beginning of the Cold War, the U.S. Navy became intensely interested in the ability of whales and dolphins to hunt and navigate in the dark ocean depths using bio-sonar – a talent the Navy hoped to exploit by training and deploying cetaceans to patrol harbors and search for mines during the Vietnam and the Persian Gulf Wars.  When the rise of the Save the Whale movement coincided with mysterious mass strandings of whales during navy sonar exercises, the stage was set for a culture war and legal battle that rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a lively lecture accompanied by images, video and audio clips, author Joshua Horwitz will untangle the conflicted, but always passionate relationship between the top predators on land and in the sea. And he’ll address the question: Why — at a time when humans are struggling to adapt to accelerated changes in our own environment – does protecting whales and their habitats still matter?



War of the Whales is a gripping, brilliantly told tale of the secret and deadly struggle between American national security and the kings of the oceans.  At once thrilling and heartbreaking, this is a landmark book of deep, original reporting which could alter forever how we view our role as stewards of the seas.”


Purchase War of the Whales: A true story via the Museum’s secure online store.


Lecture: Why Whales Matter by Joshua Horwitz, author of “War of the Whales” from New Bedford Whaling Museum on Vimeo. Shot and edited by Eric R. Anderson of Gigs-to-Go Music Videos.

Last modified: August 30, 2016