Senior Scientist and Executive Producer
Home: Woodstock, VT, USA
Dr. Roger Payne is best known for his discovery (with Scott McVay) that humpback whales sing songs, and for his theory that the sounds of fin and blue whales can be heard across oceans (a theory that has recently been confirmed by one of Payne's students working with blue whales). He has studied the behavior of whales since 1967 and is founder and President of the Ocean Alliance (formerly, the Whale Conservation Institute). His BA degree is from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. from Cornell.
He has led over 100 expeditions to all oceans and studied every species of large whale in the wild. He pioneered many of the benign research techniques now used throughout the world to study free-swimming whales, and has trained many of the current leaders in whale research, both in America and abroad. He directs long term research projects on the songs of humpback whales, and on the behavior of 1300 individually known Argentine right whales the longest such continuous study.
Payne publishes technical articles and writes for general audiences. One of his three articles in National Geographic Magazine contained a record of whale sounds for which 10.5 million copies were printed still the largest single print order in the history of the recording industry. His publications include the book, "Among Whales" (1995) and three recordings: "Songs of the Humpback Whale" (1970 still the best selling natural history recording in history), "Deep Voices", (1975), and "Whales Alive" (1989 compositions composed by whales but arranged and played by humans, in this case by musician Paul Winter). Payne has lectured at most major universities in the U.S. and England, and has appeared on most major TV and radio talk shows. He is a writer and presenter for television documentaries, and co-writer and co-director of the IMAX film "Whales" a co-production of The National Wildlife Federation, Destination Cinema, and Payne's Company, Zephyr Productions (much of the material in "Whales" is based on Payne's research).
Payne's honors and awards, include: a knighthood in the Netherlands, a MacArthur Fellowship, the similar Lyndhurst Prize Fellowship, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal of the Humane Society of the U.S., The Albert Schweitzer Medal of the Animal Welfare Institute, and a United Nations, UNEP, "Global 500" Award. His films have received seven major awards including two Emmy nominations. His hour-long interview entitled One on One with Charlie Rose won the Emmy for best interview in 1992.