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Swimming with whales. We'll get up close with the largest, loudest, longest-lived animals on earth.

In this photo taken July 21, 2011, a baby gray whale is seen with it's mother in the Klamath River in Klamath, Calif. (AP)
In this photo taken July 21, 2011, a baby gray whale is seen with it's mother in the Klamath River in Klamath, Calif. (AP)

Whales thrill humans, and they always have.

The easy day-trip thrill of watching whales. The terrifying thrill of hunting whales. The ancient thrill of contemplating a creature of size beyond imagining. Even of being swallowed whole.

Philip Hoare caught whale fever in the pages of "Moby Dick," the giant skeletons of museum display and the sight of giant humpbacks breaching.

He ended up mid-Atlantic, swimming face to face with a sperm whale, overwhelmed by all the leviathan has meant and means today.

This hour in an archive edition of On Point: swimming with whales.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Philip Hoare joins us from New York. He's author of "The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea" and writer and presenter of the BBC documentary "The Hunt for Moby-Dick." He's also the author of five previous works of nonfiction, including "Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant," "Noel Coward: A Biography," and "England's Lost Eden: Adventures in a Victorian Utopia."

You can read an excerpt from "The Whale" at HarperCollins.com.

Rebroadcast Aug. 30, 2011 at 10 am.

This program aired on February 4, 2010.

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