Fishing in Public

Whale Tales

Hey folks. How’s things? I’m fine mostly. I came across a subject I’d just love to have a good discourse about: cetaceous animals. Or, should I say, I got a whale of an idea!

I enjoy whales as much as anybody — more, even. They are the one animal I’d like to talk to. They talk to each other, so why not me?

OK, it’s singing, but it’s still a form of communication. Them sons of bitches can carry a tune better than I can! Not all of ’em sing, though. There’s certain ones with molars, but even they’ve learned to click out a number.

I’ve heard folks remark that whales are “one hell of a fish!” We all know that’s a misnomer, don’t we? They are mammals that actually were land animals to start, maybe 30 or 40 million years ago, but then along the way they took to the water. Who knows why? Maybe the weather, better grub, that evolution crap. Then, about 5,000 years ago, we figured out how to hunt ’em, and what a fuckin’ ride they’ve had since then, huh?

People have yet to stop persecuting the poor fucks. Goddamn Eskimos really did a job, used ’em for everything. And the manner of their demise is a sin too — getting stuck repeatedly with a spear until light out. Least them guys didn’t waste nothin’: food, shelter, weapons (to kill more whales).

“Hey, better get a whale, huh?” says Joe.

“Yeah,” Jim responds, “that igloo-raising might take all day.” So there’s nice Ma Whale taking the kids for a plankton picnic and wham!

Course, we Americans did the same thing. Boy, the shit I’ve heard about those old whaling ships. The old timers could smell a whaler a mile away on the open sea. Before we found petroleum in Titusville, Pennsylvania, whale oil was the thing. Whale bones were also used in the corset industry, but I don’t want to go there. Actually, let’s get off the whole whale-killing thing altogether for a minute.

You know, one of the wildest things is what they eat. The biggest animal eats the smallest animals, and they don’t mind traveling the globe to do it — breakfast in Bermuda, then maybe a late-night snack in Antarctica. And hey, the dinner bell could be ringing off the coast of Maine, which apparently it does, quite often, for four species: the humpback, finback, minke and the right whale. What’s on the menu for our visitors? Basically any large group of fish that swims by. Sand eel appetizers with a school of herring for the main entrée and perhaps some smelts for dessert. The amount of food they consume is astounding. Man, we’re talking thousands of pounds of raw fish in one sitting.

Now I can hear you say, “What about orcas?” Well, they are a bit different, but doesn’t every family have at least one black sheep? Did you know that orcas and humans are the only animals that hunt for sport? They’ll toss about a seal like a game of catch, and chase and bite another whale until they’re tired of making sport of the poor hapless thing.

The four species that visit Maine tend to hang around the cliffs out where the ocean floor gets really deep, but will come closer to shore on the prowl for a warm meal. The minke seems to be the least shy. That’s grand for the whale-watch tours, but I doubt it was so grand for them back in the heyday of whaling. The finback is our biggest visitor, and boy, you gotta set a mean table for him, alright. He’s the guest that wants seconds.

The whales we get are more like Free Willys than killer orcas. Makes you wonder why more folks aren’t of my persuasion — there’s more money in tourism than there is in whale blubber. Oh, I suppose it is great lubricating oil, but that still don’t justify butchering the poor things.

The whale slaughterhouses in Japan are still going strong. Japan has the fucking gall to fish for whales under the guise of — get this — “scientific inquiries.” Good one, huh? I think Japan says they only caught (murdered) about 600 of the poor buggers last year. Must be some science project! Pisses me off to no end.

Why? Because, like I said, they’re mammals, like us. Because they’re warm-blooded, with feelings, and they care for their young. Because they sing, and because we know and love them.