Andrea Lynn, Writer
Andrea Lynn, Writer

As shared at the Yale Graduate Conference in Religion and Ecology 2024

(and featuring a live performance by Dutch musician Tristan Visser!)

Whale Voices

Before the fires devastated Lahaina, when the soundscape still seemed, balanced and serene, I was invited to be a part of a collaboration: humans with their instruments joining humpback whales vocalizing on their winter breeding ground in Māʻalaea Bay.


The generous invitation was from musician, composer, author and philosopher-naturalist David Rothenberg. Too insecure to take part as a musician (David is incredibly accomplished, and of course, famous), I listened and wondered at the beauty of it all.


David's bass clarinet and Dutch musician Tristan Visser's bowed guitar sometimes added texture and depth as they accompanied the whales' songs. Many moments were purely composed of whale melodies. There are typically thousands of humpbacks on the breeding ground this time of year. They are the Hawaiʻi Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of humpback whales, a portion of the North Pacific humpback population, which includes about 21,000 individuals.