By Mark-Ellis Bennett

WaterRock Institute will bring New York Times bestselling author Dr. Carl Safina to Asheville on Feb. 17 to give a presentation about his latest book, “Beyond Words, What Animals Think and Feel.”

Safina brings together decades of field observations with new discoveries. We now know that cats, dogs and some other mammals can see ultraviolet light, which is optically invisible to humans. This might explain why we sometimes observe a cat apparently watching something we can’t see.

Safina takes his readers to Samburu National Reserve in Kenya to observe elephant behaviors such as greetings, mating, and birth. Between the effects of droughts and poachers their survival is a critical challenge. Safina observes the primal social behavior of wolves in Yellowstone National Park from status territorial fights and grieving of the deceased members of the pack.

Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs the steering committee of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and is the founding president for the nonprofit Safina Center. He hosted the ten-part series “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.” His writing appears in The New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, and Orion.

WaterRock Institute predident Heidi Campbell-Robinson serves on the board of Leadership Asheville Forum, and was their immediate past president. She has also served on the board of WCQS Public Radio Station, and the board of Leadership Asheville. WaterRock Institute is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to life enrichment. Particular focus is given to programs that highlight leadership, creativity, and spirituality.

Campbell-Robinson said the institute also offers professional development services including coaching.

“Through programs and engaged learning opportunities featuring outstanding presentations by guest speakers, we plan on attracting not only the local community, but also audiences from all over Western North Carolina and beyond who will invest in our local economy by patronizing our restaurants and hotels,” she said.

The presentation will be preceded by a mixer at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17 at 36 Montford Avenue, the Asheville location for Lenoir-Rhyne University and headquarters for the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

Safina’s keynote presentation will be at 6 p.m. with a book signing to follow. Copies of the book are currently available at Malaprop’s Book Store at 55 Haywood Street.

Admission will be $20, or $10 for students with college identification. Tickets can be purchased online at

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