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Once almost wiped out by commercial whalers, the eastern population of gray whales has made an amazing comeback, and they now have a very special relationship with humans, coming so close to whale watching vessels, they sometimes rub against the boat or spy hop nearby, which has earned them the nick name, “The Friendlies.”
Not only that—the mist from their blows, seen from the air, is heart-shaped. What would the poets among us have to say about an animal nearly hunted to extinction that seems to effuse nothing but love for humans?
Well, when it comes to gray whales, there’s as much to enrich the mind as the heart. For example, they make an unbelievably long migration—10,000 to 14,000 miles round trip, one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal on earth.
Learn more about these fascinating animals with host Richard Nelson on the Gray Whale Program.
Entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris is one of the major threats to whales and other marine mammals. Here's a beautiful short film by award-winning documentary filmmaker Lou Douros, which explores these often deadly encounters—and efforts to reduce the number of entanglements.
Where else on public radio programming can you hear polar bears growl, peregrine falcons cry and killer whales splash? In an ever increasingly urban world, Encounters: Experiences in the North brings the sounds of the northern wild to the radio for a rare, entertaining and informative weekly program. Now in its ninth season, Encounters is heard throughout Alaska and around the nation—and has podcast listeners around the world. Alaska’s acclaimed cultural anthropologist and award winning nature writer, Richard Nelson is the host of Encounters. Each 29- minute segment contains a tight weave of scientific and indigenous perspectives as Nelson bubbles over with boundless enthusiasm for all things wild. Because it is recorded live to tape, Encounters has a refreshing immediacy that makes for exciting and entertaining listening.
The carefully researched material draws information from the best scientific investigations, from discussions with scientists about their work, from accurate interpretation of conclusions in a wide range of studies, and from direct experience in the field. The programs are recorded live in the field during close contact with the subject. Whether high atop a 65 foot tree to record a program on wind, kayaking along side a pod of sea lions or getting curiously close to a grizzly bear, Nelson engages the listener in feeling the place as well as the subject.
Dr. Nelson has spent forty years in the north living with indigenous people and writing extensively about human relationships to the natural world. He began Encounters as a volunteer for KCAW-FM, the voice and heartbeat of Sitka, a small island town on Alaska's north Pacific coast. Encouraged by its popularity among Sitkans, Nelson began to work with KCAW program director Ken Fate who edited the program and found distribution statewide. Today the show is still distributed by KCAW, Raven Radio.