“Little Flower” is the name of a sperm whale who loves interacting with whale watching boats; his appearance gets crowds of whale watchers waving and cheering. Unfortunately, news of Little Flower’s friendly behavior set off a fiery debate over marine conservation and education.
Whales have long occupied a special place in the public eye. Awe-inspiring in their grace and massive size, these incredible mammals serve as unwitting mascots of marine ecosystems. When we see pictures of starved whales lying on beaches, their bellies full of plastic waste, it touches us in ways that images of dead fish would not.
Yet, many argue, the best way to inspire an ecological conscience in a society is to bring people into direct contact with the animals that need protection. Taiwan maritime author Liao Hung-Chi, who is an avid whale watcher, believes that first-hand education is the only way to invest the citizens of his island nation in the health of the ocean that surrounds them. Thus, when he first came into contact with Little Flower, he felt like he’d been given a gift.
Little Flower is a sperm whale who, unlike others of her species, loves to interact with whale watching boats. When other sperm whales would swim off or dive deep at the first sight of a boat, Little Flower will come in close, then swim alongside or underneath the boat as if he enjoyed the company. His appearance inspires excitement and adoration from whale watchers. Yet when Liao Hung-Chi and others first wrote about his extraordinary behavior, they set off a firestorm of dispute in the local media over whether or not the humans’ exposure to the whale had gone too far for both parties. Liao’s book takes us through the storm of opinions, policies, and debates into the clear waters of first-hand experience with the marine world.