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John Atkinson has always maintained a child-like wonder with the natural world. All of the inspiration for his books comes from his profound fascination with Mother Nature and all of her magical mysteries. With this in mind, he has written five of what he calls “chapter books for young and inquisitive minds.”

He has also written four as-yet-unpublished literary fiction books for adults. To research one of these books, he spent six weeks living with a Cuban family in Havana. To research another, he lived for five days with the homeless on the streets of New York City.

John graduated from the University of Western Ontario and promptly took a well-salaried position with a respected international company. Four months later, he succumbed to what would become a lifelong passion: to explore the world, meet people of varied cultures, and experience some of the very best Mother Nature has to offer. First step was to resign from his secure job and join a sailing expedition in the Bahamas.

From the Bahamas, he ventured down to Patagonia in southern Argentina and through a mutual friend, met Dr. Roger Payne, credited as being one of the leading global experts on whales and founder of the non-profit Ocean Alliance. (www.oceanalliance.org).

While in Patagonia, John assisted Roger Payne in an aerial photographic survey of the local population of endangered Southern Right whales. The following year he took over the role of aerial photographer in what has since become the world's longest ongoing scientific survey of any great whale.

For the past seventeen years, he has traveled once a year to Patagonia, donned a survival suit, and strapped himself into a seat bolted to the frame of an Argentine Navy airplane. With the six-foot wide door removed, he hangs out of the airplane (circling three hundred feet above the water) and takes pictures of the Southern Right whales that gather to mate and one year later, return to give birth to their calves in the waters of Peninsula Valdes.

John’s photographs are used to identify individual whales, thus giving the scientists vital information they need to track the health and survival rates of these gentle giants. The picture to the left is of a mother and baby sleeping.

John has played a key role in the production of three Discovery Channel documentaries, an IMAX film titled “Whales”, and numerous other environmental productions.

He has participated in many ocean and whale-related expeditions around the world. In April 2005, he completed his first trans-Atlantic crossing aboard the whale research vessel Odyssey, sailing from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa to the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean.

He has raised funds for, designed and built a special floating chair for a beloved quadriplegic friend named Ed Roberts, credited as the “godfather” of the global disabled movement and founder of the non-profit World Institute on Disability. (www.wid.org)

John and Roger Payne fulfilled one of Ed's dreams when they took him in the floating chair to swim with dolphins in the Florida Keys, and with a pod of whales in open waters off the west coast of the big island of Hawaii.

For the past four winter seasons, he has volunteered as an instructor with the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiers.

In May 2007, as a Mother’s Day gift, John donated his left kidney to his mother.

John has learned just enough Spanish to get into lots of trouble all around the world!
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