Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Close Encounters of a Deep Kind

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Close Encounters of a Deep Kind

Article excerpt

Anne Collet's love affair with marine mammals began in college, when a friend took her diving off the coast of France. There, Collet came face-to-face with a lone, female dolphin - all 10 feet of her. At first, Collet was frightened, but she quickly became enamored with the gentle giant with wrinkled eyelids. The subsequent seven-year relationship that developed between the two set Collet on her life course.

Collet, a world-renowned marine biologist and director of theMarine Mammal Research Institute in La Rochelle, France, has studied whales and dolphins from Antarctica to the Arctic over the past 20 years. She brings her respect for and love of marine mammals to life in "Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins, and Seals."

The writing, with the help of translator Gayle Wurst, is colorful and detailed. The book's charm comes in its blend of self- discovery and adventure with scientific study. Collet begins by regaling us with tales of her childhood adventures in Brittany with her eccentric Uncle Jacques, a veteran of the Royal Navy who imparted his love of the sea - and pastries - to his young niece. From morning till night, she paddled and splashed near the shore, collecting crabs in water holes and taking in the smell of sea- bottom slime, which she found invigorating rather than nauseating.

But she found taking on the formal study of marine biology in college tedious, and she day-dreamed of walking along the coastline. That is, until the day she met Jean-Louis, the dolphin, which renewed her zeal and eventually launched her career.

From France, Collet traveled the world, meeting the subjects of her study face to face, or more accurately, eye to eye, in their own underwater homes. On one trip off the coast of Argentina, she ended up riding a 50-foot-long southern right whale. The whale came upon Collet by surprise, and then suddenly began a series of body rolls that Collet feared might kill her. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.