The Beluga Café : My Strange Adventure with Art, Music, and Whales in the Far North

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Key Porter Books, 2002 - Mackenzie River Delta (N.W.T. and Yukon) - 307 pages
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Animal communication expert Jim Nollman has sung with orcas, plucked a Jew's harp in waters teeming with humpback whales, and shaken rattles in the company of bottlenose dolphins. Now, in this heartfelt and quirky true adventure story, Nollman and two artist friends set out for Canada's vast Mackenzie Delta, electric guitar and underwater sound equipment in tow, to make music with belugas - the elusive white whales of the Arctic. Travelling the expanses of this beautiful northern land, the three friends unwittingly find themselves at the centre of a heated controversy over the Beaufort Sea belugas: Why have the whales stopped coming into the Mackenzie Delta, possibly jeopardizing their own calves, who live the first part of their lives in these shallow, warm waters? As they attempt to unravel the mystery, they encounter various intriguing characters now laying claim to the resources of the Mackenzie Delta region - Native people (who are allowed to hunt the whales ), wildlife officials, and oil company engineers - all vividly described by Nollman. Along the way, he also conveys both the wonders and the realities of being deep in the wilderness - experiencing the connectedness of all living things while scratching the bites of the world's most fearsome mosquitoes. With its rich and passionate nature writing evoking lovely and remote landscapes, The Beluga Caf suggests profound metaphors for our time about animal rights and animal intelligence, the role of science in conservation, the politics of extinction, and the place of art in the epic struggle to save the natural world.

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