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  Field Notes From
Oceans of Plenty



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On Assignment
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From Author

Kennedy Warne



On Assignment

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From Photographer

David Doubilet



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by David Doubilet


 

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Oceans of Plenty

Field Notes From Author
Kennedy Warne
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At Gansbaai, in the southwestern cape, I had the opportunity to swim with southern right whales. These whales are among the largest mammals in the sea. One whale seemed especially curious about humans, coming right up to the boat and rolling over onto its back. It had what looked like a large black inkblot on its pure white belly, reminding me of one of those Rorschach tests. While I was snorkeling, the same whale rose out of the water in front of me like a huge intercontinental ballistic missile emerging from a silo. I stretched my hands out and felt the thick, rubbery skin of its throat as 60 tons (50 metric tons) of whale launched itself out of the sea. It doesn’t get any better than this!



I was standing on the tip of the Cape of Good Hope with my dive partner on September 11 when he received a cell phone call about what had just happened in the U.S. and that we were “on the brink of World War III.” It was a very strange and surreal moment. Later it struck me as ironic that—on the very day that all hope seemed to drain out of the world—I was standing in a place that got its name because it gave the hope of new trade routes and discovery of the wider world.



A solar eclipse occurred while I was in South Africa. David Doubilet and I were in the midst of the sardine-hunting part of our fieldwork, and we’d just come up from a dive about 3 p.m. when the eclipse was beginning. I had read somewhere that a good way of viewing an eclipse was through a piece of foil. It’s thick enough not to damage your eyes but thin enough to see the sun’s disk. I scouted around for something on the boat that I could use and noticed some KitKat candy bars. So there we all were, viewing an eclipse through chocolate candy wrappers.





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