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L’uomo che ama ascoltare le balene [EN]

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In un articolo a firma di Dyllan Furness pubblicato su Outside, Paul Knapp Jr. racconta le curiose origini della sua ossessione per il canto dei grandi cetacei e il lavoro che ne è scaturito. Secondo le dichiarazioni di Knapp e di alcuni ricercatori, l’inquinamento acustico prodotto da una determinata classe di attività antropiche costituirebbe un serio problema per la vita delle balene e in particolare per quella delle megattere.

A thunderhead loomed to the south of the island of Culebra, in Puerto Rico, threatening to drench Paul Knapp Jr. and the three passengers of his 18-foot inflatable dinghy, the Little Compass. The sticker at the helm of his boat read: “I Speak Whale.” A sun-swept couple from Michigan waited toward the bow, while I sat beneath the Bimini top. As we exited the harbor, Knapp punched the engine and headed northwest, the wind to our stern. The Little Compass skimmed across the blue swells like a well-skipped stone.

After 20 minutes, we reached Knapp’s most reliable listening location, an indistinctive stretch of open water just west of a peninsula. Knapp cut the engine, plugged a hydrophone into a pair of boat speakers, and dropped the device into the water. “OK,” he said as the cable ran through his fingers, falling to 50 feet below the surface. “Let’s see if we hear anything.”

Within seconds, a chorus of cetacean song filled the air—humpbacks emanating a series of elevated chirps and bellows and downward-spiraling moans. I’d listened to countless whale recordings in preparation for the trip, but they failed to convey how haunting the songs are in person. Knapp fell silent for a few minutes before rattling off guesses at the whales’ numbers and distance from us—two or three of them, maybe three or four miles away.

Immagine da Wikimedia Commons


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