As the Right Whale team arrives in Patagonia for our 43rd field season we wanted to share with you a unique opportunity to learn more about Península Valdés – the people, the setting and the whales. The Old Man and the Whale is a small treasure of a book that will transport you to our whale camp, written by a man who knows it well. John Atkinson has been traveling to Patagonia from Canada every year for over 21 years, for the sole purpose of hanging out of an airplane to take aerial photos of the whales. He has immersed himself in the culture, so it only made sense for him as a full-time writer to write a story about a place he loves.
This is a story about respect – for the wisdom of our elders, and for the wildness of a place. Not only does it capture the place but it moves quickly with the action of a crisis. Here’s an excerpt:
The old man’s lip twitched. He caressed the mane of his horse. After a moment’s pause, he said, “Montana. Abajo.”
The horse knelt down and he slipped off the horse’s back. He walked over and stood alongside the three boys. His two dogs trailed closely behind him.
The boy turned his back on the old man and said to his friends, “Come on guys. Let’s get this boat in the water.”
The old man shifted three feet to the left and stood between the boat and the water and placed his hand on the engine and said, “I’m telling you again that you can’t put this boat in the water here.”
The boy glared at the old man and said, “And I’m telling you that we are.”
“My job is to protect these whales from people like you.”
The boy raised his voice a notch and said, “Your only job right now is to get out of my way.”
The book is available at a sale price now in paperback for $4.49 and the Kindle version is only $2.99 here.
“Few books convey the sanity that the wild world offers. This one does. Read it.”
–Dr. Roger Payne
John Atkinson and friend Dylan at Whale Camp