People sometimes ask if I am fearful when I am in such close proximity to animals. I can only say that the only way that I’ve been ripped open is by having to leave behind elephant friends, orangutans, cheetahs, caracals, manta rays, or whales. But I would do every hello and goodbye over again as long as it meant that I would have a chance to share their stories. Animals help me to remember all the dreams I thought I had forgotten and remind us to dream as though we will live forever while living as though we shall die today.

—Gregory Colbert

A shell that sings the songs of whales. —Gregory Colbert

A shell that sings the songs of whales.

—Gregory Colbert

The whales do not sing because they have an answer. They sing because they have a song.
—Gregory Colbert

The whales do not sing because they have an answer. They sing because they have a song.

—Gregory Colbert

In the presence of the whales, a childhood memory returned to me. On my last day of primary school, the teacher had my entire class lie down end to end on the floor of the gymnasium. “Together,” she said, “you are still shorter than the longest blue whale.”
 
I was humbled and confused, yet full of wonder. I told myself that when I grew taller, I would explore the mystery of the whales. I am taller now, but I still feel no closer to understanding the mystery of the whales.
 
Perhaps I misunderstood the lesson that the whales and my teacher were trying to give me—that you embrace wonder, that you feel wonder without ever really understanding it. 
—Gregory Colbert

In the presence of the whales, a childhood memory returned to me. On my last day of primary school, the teacher had my entire class lie down end to end on the floor of the gymnasium. “Together,” she said, “you are still shorter than the longest blue whale.”

 

I was humbled and confused, yet full of wonder. I told myself that when I grew taller, I would explore the mystery of the whales. I am taller now, but I still feel no closer to understanding the mystery of the whales.

 

Perhaps I misunderstood the lesson that the whales and my teacher were trying to give me—that you embrace wonder, that you feel wonder without ever really understanding it.

—Gregory Colbert

Under the ocean there is bliss—it is this, it is this, it is this.
—Gregory Colbert

Under the ocean there is bliss—it is this, it is this, it is this.

—Gregory Colbert

As I dove, a pod of whales gathered around me. Warm shafts of sunlight streamed down as if through stained glass. The whales scissored the water with their pectoral fins and cocooned my body in air bubbles. They fanned and rolled me in their tail flukes. I felt as if I were falling weightlessly upward.I could feel the rhythms of the sea.—Gregory Colbert

As I dove, a pod of whales gathered around me. Warm shafts of sunlight streamed down as if through stained glass. The whales scissored the water with their pectoral fins and cocooned my body in air bubbles. They fanned and rolled me in their tail flukes. I felt as if I were falling weightlessly upward.

I could feel the rhythms of the sea.
—Gregory Colbert

Gregory’s images return us to the sanity of our undeniable, unavoidable, inextricable connection to nature. And they do it with beauty, grace, lightness-of-being, strength. His images, like whale songs, are the last wild voices calling to the consciousness of terminally civilized humanity, our last contact with nature before we submerge forever in our own manufacture and lose forever the final fragments of our wild selves.
—Roger Payne
Roger Payne is the world’s preeminent whale biologist. He is famous for the discovery, with Scott McVay, of whale song among Humpback whales. In 2010 he joined Gregory Colbert on a filming expedition in Antarctica.

Gregory’s images return us to the sanity of our undeniable, unavoidable, inextricable connection to nature. And they do it with beauty, grace, lightness-of-being, strength. His images, like whale songs, are the last wild voices calling to the consciousness of terminally civilized humanity, our last contact with nature before we submerge forever in our own manufacture and lose forever the final fragments of our wild selves.

—Roger Payne

Roger Payne is the world’s preeminent whale biologist. He is famous for the discovery, with Scott McVay, of whale song among Humpback whales. In 2010 he joined Gregory Colbert on a filming expedition in Antarctica.

Gregory Colbert will be on continuous filming expeditions in the Caribbean Sea, Africa, and points north for the next two months. While he is away team Colbert will resume sharing the story of Ashes and Snow and its migrations. And as May is a prime month for observing whales in most oceans on the planet, we will be featuring a selection of Gregory’s encounters with this magnificent mammal over the next several weeks.

Gregory Colbert will be on continuous filming expeditions in the Caribbean Sea, Africa, and points north for the next two months. While he is away team Colbert will resume sharing the story of Ashes and Snow and its migrations. And as May is a prime month for observing whales in most oceans on the planet, we will be featuring a selection of Gregory’s encounters with this magnificent mammal over the next several weeks.

A Captain’s Log [GC]

A hurricane smashed the hull of a ship called Dreamsong. The boat broke apart on a coral reef near the island of Borneo. They were carrying precious cargo—one thousand cellos and a herd of Asian elephants. From the shore, the orangutans watched from high up in the tree canopy. The captain remained with the elephants while the crew abandoned ship. As the boat rocked and listed to one side, the elephants carefully removed the cellos from their cases and nimbly plucked the strings with their trunks. They began playing a cello suite called One Thousand Rivers.

The orangutans signaled to a pod of whales who soon gathered round the ship. Enraptured, the whales silenced their blows and listened. They lined up end to end on the water’s surface and invited the elephants to cross.

The elephants continued playing as they walked across the bridge of whales. When they touched shore their last note kept resonating on the water. 

A Captain’s Log [GC]

A hurricane smashed the hull of a ship called Dreamsong. The boat broke apart on a coral reef near the island of Borneo. They were carrying precious cargo—one thousand cellos and a herd of Asian elephants. From the shore, the orangutans watched from high up in the tree canopy. The captain remained with the elephants while the crew abandoned ship. As the boat rocked and listed to one side, the elephants carefully removed the cellos from their cases and nimbly plucked the strings with their trunks. They began playing a cello suite called One Thousand Rivers.

The orangutans signaled to a pod of whales who soon gathered round the ship. Enraptured, the whales silenced their blows and listened. They lined up end to end on the water’s surface and invited the elephants to cross.

The elephants continued playing as they walked across the bridge of whales. When they touched shore their last note kept resonating on the water. 

At the beginning of my journey, I was told, “If you wish to learn of your past, you must go to it. Begin with rivers, elephants, and whales.” I said goodbye to the elephants, knowing I would return to them, and set out to join the whales, the trunkless elephants of the sea.
—GC

At the beginning of my journey, I was told, “If you wish to learn of your past, you must go to it. Begin with rivers, elephants, and whales.” I said goodbye to the elephants, knowing I would return to them, and set out to join the whales, the trunkless elephants of the sea.

—GC

I dove deep and curled my body into a ball. A pod of whales gathered around me. Warm shafts of sunlight streamed down as if through stained glass. The whales scissored the water with their pectoral fins and cocooned my body in air bubbles. They fanned and rolled me in their tail flukes. I felt as if I were falling weightlessly upward.

I could feel the rhythms of the sea.

Under the ocean there is bliss—it is this, it is this, it is this.