Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Nature Marine Life

Spirits of the Coast

Orcas in Science, Art and History

edited by Martha Black, Lorne Hammond & Gavin Hanke

Royal BC Museum
Initial publish date
May 2020
Marine Life, General, Mammals
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


"A magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life."?Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation

Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca.

Long feared in settler cultures as "killer whales," and respected and honored by Indigenous cultures as friends, family, or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas.

A richly illustrated literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.

About the authors

For twenty years the Curator of The Isaacs Gallery in Toronto, Canada, Martha Black was a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria, where she has taught Northwest Coast Native art history, at the time of the publication of Bella Bella.

Martha Black's profile page

Dr. Lorne Hammond has been a history curator at the Royal BC Museum since 1997. He has written extensively on energy history in the province and has curated museum exhibitions on many aspects of BC history.

Lorne Hammond's profile page

Gavin Hanke's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Its luminous, large-format pages offer everything from Haida storytelling to marine biology, all to show our too-often-ignored kinship with this astonishing animal."?Brian Lynch, The Georgia Straight

"The authors take you on a magnificent journey alongside orcas, bringing these beautiful creatures to life. Numerous perspectives that intertwine science, traditional knowledge and personal experiences reveal how strongly we're interconnected with these majestic, intelligent neighbours that live in the Salish Sea. The emerging picture shows how orcas are an integral part of human existence and fuels my personal and professional passion to do everything possible to help them thrive. These stories seamlessly make the reader a part of the orcas' history and fate."?Jay Ritchlin, Director General, BC and Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation

"In Spirits of the Coast...orca experts, artists, storytellers, and Indigenous wisdom keepers issue an invitation to understand, celebrate, and come together to protect these marvelous marine mammals."?Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews

Anyone looking for an introduction to the history, science and cultural significance of the orca could do no better than to start here.?Daniel Francis, Ormsby Review

"This book is the perfect blend of science, history, art, folklore and culture. Orcas are a huge part of life on the west coast of Canada and Vancouver Island. The image of the Orca is ever-present. This book is a wonderful trip into the world of these magnificent creatures and what they have meant to us over time."?Charlotte Kinzie, Kinzie Things

?This “literary and visual journey through past and possibility” is probably the best literary bargain you'll find this year. . . . It juxtaposes gorgeous photos with sketches, poetry, Indigenous stories and first-hand experiences and observations of experts.” “Cherie Thiessen, Pacific Yachting

Other titles by

Other titles by