Kurt de SwaafMarine Biologist & Science Journalist
Biographer of the Sperm Whale
‘When you have an encounter with a sperm whale, you think: “Wow, they really do exist”. It’s incredible, a creature so big and so different from us, but nevertheless a mammal. A being that drinks milk as a child, but at the same time is able to dive a thousand metres deep into a world that would be hostile for us.’
Marine biologist and science journalist Kurt de Swaaf is deeply fascinated by the sperm whale, one of the largest creatures on earth. De Swaaf, born in Rotterdam, studied Ecology and Marine biology in Heidelberg, Germany. He still lives there and writes for newspapers including the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Der Standard. To share his knowledge on the giants of the oceans, de Swaaf recently published his book Der Geist des Ozeans.
The book surprisingly takes the perspective of a specific sperm whale to describe the species' life, language and pronounced social behaviour. The whale concerned is Physty, a sperm whale that was stranded off Long Island in 1981 and was rescued with the help of a lot of people. Based on the latest scientific insights, the book describes the incredible way of life of these highly intelligent animals.