As a soundscape ecologist, I study natural sounds produced in the landscape. And for the past 50 years, I’ve focused on the collective organic sound – or the biophony – that’s generated in any wild habitat. After nearly five decades of working in the field and recording almost everywhere, I’m often asked to reveal my favorite place. ‘Alaska, by far’ I reply, because it’s truly wild .
In late spring and summer, Alaskan habitats everywhere are pulsating with the sounds of wildlife.
(Sounds of the Yukon Delta)
Just inland from the west coast of the state, the tundra of the Yukon Delta Wildlife Refuge is the nesting and breeding site for millions of marine and inland birds that converge from as far away as New Zealand and even Africa.
We’ve been told by politicians wanting to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that there’s nothing there. Well…in June 2006 we found this:
Along the shoreline of the spruce rain forests of Alaska’s Southeast, across from Glacier Bay, American eagles scream, as humpback whales feed, rest, and blow twenty feet offshore from where we’ve set up camp on an island across from Glacier Bay.
(Sound of Humpback whale breath)
Alaska is one state where we can range over huge tracts of protected land in any direction and rarely hear another human noise, where there’s no eager ranger to tell you about the life-cycle of a grizzly, and, best of all, where there’s nothing to buy. Now that’s wild! And, to me, it’s my favorite kind of place.
With a Perspective, I’m Bernie Krause.
Bernie Krause is a naturalist, composer and soundscape ecologist. He lives in Sonoma County.