What happens when man so warps nature that following inherent animal instincts leads to extinction? Abbey answers in extravagant yet clear prose that evokes the precarious miracle of mammalian sea life. A female Southern Blue Whale, in heat for the first time, contacts an ailing male Northern Blue Whale (accompanied by four dolphins newly released from captivity) searching for his missing mate and child. They also encounter an ancient female Fin Whale who has survived by ignoring the urge to migrate and herd, at the cost of excruciating loneliness. The first of these creatures to die prematurely is the one dolphin taught to use weapons. Other strategies also fail against menaces that damage even the survivors: chemicals, rips in the ozone layer and radiation released into the atmosphere. Victory after victory culminates in a defeat that suggests the possibility of other victories and defeats beyond the end of this never-preachy allegory, which reads like a gripping and relentless adventure, not a sermon.