An interview with the man who introduced the world to whale songs

Just over fifty years ago, scientist Roger Payne released the album Songs of the Humpback Whale to the general public. Audiences found the language of the whales moving, and in an era of commercial whaling, the album may have increased public support for the anti-whaling movement. In a recent interview, 87-year-old Payne reflects on his career. Stuart Firestein for Nautilus:

"Roger Payne sparked the anti-whaling movement. He's not done yet."

When asked about the threat of climate change, Payne expressed the importance of appealing to public emotion.

"I think we need something that appeals to the innermost values of our humanity. I'm talking about something that gets people deeply fascinated with nature. Perhaps something that makes people weep, or fills them with delight. After all, it is usually strong emotional reactions that trigger change—whether it is something utterly horrific, like people falling from planes while trying to escape the Taliban, or something beautiful like—dare I say it—whale songs."