In this commentary, I tune into the soundwork of cetacean communicability and whalesong in US environmental activism beginning around 1970. In the same period that whalesong attained popular audibility, the cetacean sensorium attained an exceptional status, akin to (or even superseding) human exceptionalism. This episode suggests that whales were assigned value due to possessing racially coded “hyperbrains,” and that listening for racialization can add nuance to anthropomorphism in broader considerations of animal and environmental ethics.

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