When photographer Bryant Austin came eye-to-eye with a humpback mother whale swimming with her calf, it changed his life. He decided he wanted to recreate that experience for others by making a life-sized print of a whale — something that had never been done before. So he quit his job, sold his house, and flew to the South Pacific armed with only a snorkel and a camera. Bryant Austin joins us to talk about his book, “Beautiful Whale,” and his secret to getting within three feet of the mammals, without them swimming away. We’ll also talk to a marine biologist about the efforts to protect whales.

Some photos from 'Beautiful Whale'

Humpback mother and calf, Ha'apai Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, 2005. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

Sperm Whale Composite Two, April 2011. It took Bryant Austin four months to raise sufficient funding to build a computer powerful enough to complete this image measuring 10 feet by 36 feet of Scar. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

Minke Whale Composite Portrait 1186, July 2009. This is a two-image composite photograph of Ella. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

A KQED Quest Profile of Bryant Austin

Bryant Austin, photographer and author of the book "Beautiful Whale"
Isidore Szczepaniak, marine biologist with Golden Gate Cetacean Research; he has worked as a naturalist for the Oceanic Society since 1982 and teaches classes on marine mammals at San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences

  • thucy

    These photos are so gorgeous. Thank you for this segment.
    There’s a great non-fiction book by science writer Dick Russell titled “The Eye of the Whale: Epic Passage from Baja to Siberia” which tracks the grey whale’s migration… and every way in which man has interacted with whales through time. Reading it changed the way I thought about whales, but also about our relationship to the oceans, and our strange collective maritime history (and even Herman Melville.) Couldn’t put it down. Hope more people will read it.

  • lj0ju9ar3z29aofl

    “farallon islands” “orca kills” “great white sharks” sfgate.com
    Kelp Forest – Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
    Biodiversity hotspot – Wikipedia
    Instrumental temperature record – Wikipedia
    Mediterranean climate – Wikipedia

  • mountain_webbie

    Thank you for these beautiful images. I hope they can inspire our younger generation and generations to come to make the survival of this and other special animals a priority.

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