College professor Thomas Martindale is teaching a summer writing workshop at the university's Marine Center. A marine biologist dies under bizarre circumstances and his assistant, Tom's former lover, is arrested for the murder. The death occurs while a conference of the International Whaling Commission is going on. In Martindale's mind, there are more likely suspects than his friend: the Japanese fisheries minister, an Eskimo whaling commissioner, and several radical environmentalists. His investigation uncovers the murdered man's involvement in the death of a graduate student at sea and his collaboration with the Japanese to alter whale population data.