Saanich resident and orca activist Mark Leiren-Young holds up his recently published children’s book, Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich orca activist publishes children’s book

Mark Leiren-Young’s new book is an ‘introduction to the orca-verse’

When Saanich resident and orca activist Mark Leiren-Young was growing up, he didn’t enjoy science class and had no plans to be an author. Yet, he has been writing about orcas for over 20 years and recently published his second book about them.

Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales, published by Orca Books, is aimed at middle school students and is the first in the Orca Wild series that will feature various authors. Leiren-Young refers to his book as an “introduction to the orca-verse.”

The book is a reference guide to orcas around the world. Leiren-Young hopes the book will appear everywhere from classrooms to BC Ferries to bed and breakfasts for folks of all ages to enjoy.

READ ALSO: Incredible Central Saanich orca encounter captured on video

Leiren-Young wears many hats – he’s an actor, comic, documentary filmmaker, science journalist and now a children’s author. However, he feels the title “orca activist” has replaced all others. He spends so much time writing about, filming, and advocating for orcas, he feels he’s almost a member of J pod – the name given to the southern resident orca pod near Vancouver Island.

In 2016, Leiren-Young’s first book, The Killer Whale Who Changed the World, was released. It outlined the history of Moby Doll, an orca who lived at the Vancouver Aquarium after being accidentally captured. Moby was the first orca in the world to be captured and displayed. Before her, people thought orcas were monsters, Leiren-Young explained.

He became interested in orcas about 20 years ago – he felt the concept of humans meeting what they thought was a monster sounded like “real-life science fiction.” After having no luck pitching a documentary film about Moby, Leiren-Young wrote feature articles and produced a radio documentary on the subject. When he won a Jack Webster Award for the radio documentary, Moby Doll: The Killer Whale that Changed the World, Greystone Books approached him with a book deal.

After Moby Doll’s story hit the stands, Orca Book Publishers asked Leiren-Young to translate the story into something for kids and Orcas Everywhere came to life.

READ ALSO: Remains of local mother orca and calf reunited in upcoming exhibit at Royal BC Museum

He said his lack of a background in science helped him ask “kid questions” when interviewing the world’s top oceanographers and Indigenous folks. His lack of confidence in his own knowledge also encouraged him to fact-check rigorously.

What’s next for Leiren-Young? He’s still in orca-mode.

“The number of things I’m doing on whales is loopy,” he said.

He’s currently writing the Royal B.C. Museum resident whale exhibit and has begun working on a picture book as well as a baby book about orcas.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

Sidney councillor predicts developers will take liberties after retroactive approval of beach stairs

Developer built stairs in an environmentally sensitive area without prior approval

Trans ID Clinics provide folks with pro bono legal advice

Free info sessions for people looking to change their name, gender marker on their identification

Plant-based pizza restaurant to open its doors in Victoria this December

Virtuous Pie has locations in Vancouver, Toronto and Portland

Oak Bay ready for 19th annual Light Up

Games, crafts, live music, roasted chestnuts mark Sunday’s Light Up

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Four arrested after report of shots fired in Nanaimo

RCMP arrest four suspects in high-risk takedown in Cedar

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

Companies calling on the federal government to ‘do everything in its power’ to end the strike

Most Read