OUR COUN­TRY Daily Planet host Ziya Tong on the magic of the bel­uga whale mi­gra­tion in Churchill, Man.

The host of Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s hit sci­ence show Daily Planet on ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mag­i­cal mo­ment near Churchill, Man.

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - —As told tothomas Hall

Peo­ple talk about an­i­mal mi­gra­tions in the Serengeti, but the most mag­nif­i­cent mi­gra­tion I’ve ever seen was 50,000 bel­uga whales in the Seal River, near Churchill. It was pretty spec­tac­u­lar to be out on the wa­ter and see what looked like lit­tle bob­bing pieces of ice ev­ery­where — and then re­al­ize that they were ac­tu­ally bel­uga whales. I was there to do a story on mon­i­tor­ing bel­uga es­tu­ary habi­tats, which is in­cred­i­ble to see, too. The sci­en­tists have to be like cow­boys and jump onto the bel­u­gas — safely, of course, with vets present — to cap­ture and tag them. Af­ter we did the story, I was with the folks at the Seal River Her­itage Lodge, and they ba­si­cally tied my feet to­gether, gave me a snorkel and a mask, and told me to lie face down as they dragged me back­ward through the murky wa­ter. I felt like I was in an episode of The So­pra­nos. But then they told me to sing. And when I did, the bel­u­gas came right up to me. It was pure magic. I was very blessed to be there in the wa­ter with them. I think that in this dig­i­tal world peo­ple are in­creas­ingly look­ing for true won­der and so­lace, and that they find it when they go back out into the real world. I never thought you could go to Churchill and see some­thing that would blow your mind, but you can. You’re there with the po­lar bears, the north­ern lights, the bel­u­gas. All the crea­tures are just go­ing about their busi­ness, and there’s this tremen­dous sense of peace and or­der. I think it’s calm­ing, be­ing out there and know­ing that you’re a part of some­thing that’s so much big­ger than you are.

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