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Review - "Beneath the Surface" by John Hargrove

John Hargrove’s Beneath the Surface is an honest, in-depth look at the reality of his childhood dream of becoming an orca trainer. Having worked at two separate SeaWorld parks, as well as Marineland Antibes, Hargrove has seen these animals that he loved put into the most unnatural situations. He has also experienced his safety and the safety of his friends and co-workers compromised repeatedly for the sake of the show.

The book opens with a terrifying experience with Freya at Marineland Antibes, as he narrowly escaped her aggression and was reminded that in the end the whales are in control. As Hargrove moved up the ranks to be one of the top trainers, he came to realize that killer whales are not suitable for captivity and the park stops at nothing to hide that fact from the public. He grew tired of incidents being blamed on trainer error, even in their death. He grew tired of seeing female whales being turned into baby-making machines with no consideration for their health and well-being.

While out on medical leave after work-related injuries, he finally realized that it was time to move away from the whales that he loved. Hargrove was featured in the film Blackfish, and was able to co-sponsor California’s “Orca Welfare and Safety Act” and support New York’s “Blackfish Bill.”

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Photo by Ocean Advocate News

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