Following the saga of the mother/child whale combo taking a detour in their migration to visit California’s capital takes me back.
I was living in Sacramento when the last humpback made the trip upriver and still feel privileged by the visit. That massive, intelligent presence made mince out of the ‘experts’ determined in their conviction that they knew more than he about where to go and what to do, but then, like now, it turned out that the whale ended up heading back out to sea when good and ready.
Of course, not every whale tale ends happily. Like all living creatures, whales die, and given the size of the part of themselves left behind the death looks dramatic.
Take for example a mid-May find on a Vietnamese beach near Da Nang … a seven-and-a-half foot long, 485 pound ‘white whale’ I’ve dubbed “Moby Dead”.
A blip of an article ends the few sentences covering the alleged find by saying the local fisherman who found the carcass buried it, “the same day according to their traditional customs.”
Even with the photo, I’m leery of this story … as leery as a river-traveling whale should be of guys with loudspeakers shouting who-knows-what down a tube upstream. (Seeing that no one really speaks fluent whale, the message could be very different from what’s meant.)
A local Vietnamese fisherman with a camera and motivation to get a story in the papers? And ‘traditional customs’ on whale funerals? Seems a bit odd that a fisherman would get all sensitive over what he would have to think of as just a big old dead fish. (Yes, I do know that whales are mammals, and perhaps I’m being a snotty elitist in assuming that rural citizens of developing countries may have more on their minds than classifications of animals, but that’s me this morning.)
But I wonder if this story isn’t just a bit too much like that giant dead pig Anderson Cooper is so fascinated with these days. You must know the one. If I’m hearing about that all the way over on this side of the planet on this smaller-than-a-giant-pig-sized island, I have to think y’all are sick to death of the big pig.
Anybody buy the pig story? And any thoughts on Ahab’s nemesis washing up near Da Nang?
I should send this to my dear friend, Roger Payne, he being THE whale guy in the world, and ask his opinion.
I think I will. Watch this space.