We were made and set here, the writer Annie Dillard once wrote, “to give voice to our astonishments.” Katy Payne is a renowned acoustic biologist with a Quaker sensibility. And she’s found her astonishment in listening to two of the world’s most exotic creatures. She has decoded the language of elephants and was among the first scientists to discover that whales are composers of song.
is a visiting fellow with the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. She was part of the research team that produced the original recording Songs of the Humpback Whale. Her book is Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants.