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

Overview

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.
Traveling the expanses of this beautiful northern ...

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Overview

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.
Traveling the expanses of this beautiful northern land, the three friends unwittingly find themselves at the center 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 mosquitos.
With its rich and passionate nature writing evoking lovely and remote landscapes, The Beluga Café 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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nollman, a nature writer and founder of Interspecies, a nonprofit organization that brings artists into animal habitats, writes of his latest adventure. Having already played music with whales and dolphins, Nollman and two friends prepare to go to the Arctic to see the beluga white whales. The trio becomes even more intrigued on learning that the whales seem to be leaving their native habitat. The book tracks the entire excursion from Nollman's efforts to get funds for the trip, believing that his desire to play underwater music is as deserving of a grant as other scientific methods. Along the way, the trio encounters harsh weather, unfriendly Native Americans and various illnesses. While such details are standard fare in accounts of explorations, Nollman's writing is far more original when he describes the setting and, of course, the whales. "The whale takes my breath away. It is eight feet long, composed of tightly overlapping driftwood chips bleached shiny silver from years of alternating sun and water. A bouquet of purple lousewort flowers forms the eye... From the whale's mouth issues a driftwood spiral as along as the whale's body, bound with features from a dozen or more bird species." The book will appeal most to animal-rights activists and readers wanting powerful descriptions of the Arctic wilderness. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578050871
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books
  • Publication date: 10/15/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Nollman has been involved in animal communications research for thirty years and is known around the world for playing music with whales. He directs Interspecies Inc., a nonprofit organization that brings artists into wild places to transform human perceptions about habitat and animals. He is the author of several books of nature writing, including Why We Garden: Cultivating a Sense of Place and The Charged Border: Where Whales and Humans Meet. His CD, Orcas' Greatest Hits, documents wild orcas improvising songs with human musicians. Nollman lives on an island in Puget Sound.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

1. Art as a Giveaway
2. The Great Accursed and the Great Sage
3. Crane-Racing
4. The Beluga Cafe
5. Falling in the Well
6. The Animals Are Listening
7. Circular Ruins
8. The Woman Who Wore a Whale Skull as a Hat
9. What the Raven Said
10. Not Talking to Beluga
11. The Art of Seeing
12. Avoiding Curupira
13. My Whale-Watching Guide
14. Temporary
Insanity
15. Wilma the Beluga Whale
16. Other People's Territory
17. The Wild Heart
18. Afterword

Notes

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