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Photographer's Note

UNUSUAL AUDIENCE

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the largest in the world, with a total tank capacity of 227,000 cubic meters (8 million gallons) of water. Its rich collection of sea creatures include killer whales, barracudas, hammerhead sharks, as well as schools of the dreaded piranas from the Amazon… and in one tank, five white beluga whales. Happily, the experts know how to separate the species, keeping the prey and predators in separate tanks.

The photos I submit to Trekearth generally echo the diversity of my world. Although I have long been a professor of physics, during my career as an academic I’ve given lectures on a wide variety of topics, and to small and large audiences. I’ve spoken in the United States and abroad, and served as a special topics lecturer on cruises connecting the seas between the continents. Last month I gave a talk to a group of approximately 100 high school science teachers in an auditorium inside the Atlanta Aquarium. What made the experience different was the large plate glass window in the rear of the auditorium that offered a view of white beluga whales dancing in choreographed motion, in eerie silence — entertaining, awe inspiring, and a bit distracting. During an intermission in the talk, I grabbed my camera and shot a few images of the whales. The two creatures in the foreground, seemingly dancing to my lecture, measure 4-5 meters (12-16 feet) in length and weigh in excess of 1500 kg (3300 pounds) each. They comprised the most unusual audience I’ve addressed in my career.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6000 W: 457 N: 10393] (34795)
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