How to Blow Up a Whale

Last night I read that a beached Southern Right Whale had been euthanased near Cape Town. I seems like the event drew quite an interested crowd...

It's sad, but it seems like it was the only option. The sheer volume and weight of a whale makes it very difficult to deal with.

I used to live in a small village near Cape Town, called Scarborough, where the whale population has steadily increased over the years, and whale watching has now become a major tourist attraction.

Arriving home from work one day I spotted a whale in the little bay. I rushed down to the beach and found that there were two whales, and I could hear the sounds they were making - not the beautiful lyrical sounds they use to communicate, but perhaps the sound of breathing - like air and water down a hollow pipe into an empty container - hard to describe but very eerie and beautiful. I sat watching in awe as the sun went down - wishing I could just swim closer and touch them... That night I slept under the stars again as I often did then - and until late that night I could still hear the occasional sound of the whales.

That same year, a dead whale washed up on the rocks at Scarborough. No one seemed to know what to do with it, so my landlords, Terry and Janice Corr, asked me to search for some advice on the 'Net. I emailed the WhaleNet mailing list with the question: "What does one do with a dead whale?" Someone responded with the story of the Expolding Whale. Well, I guess some people like guns and some people like blowing things up and some people want to solve the world's problems with brute force and ignorance. Believe me, a decomposing whale is a smelly affair. So I can imagine that chunks of rotting blubber flying through the air ain't a pretty sight. Anyway, we decided that explosives would definitely not be the way to go, and this led to the story of Misty.

Terry and Janice organised a talk by Lyall Watson, author of Supernature, at the Scarborough Community Centre. Lyall described in a captivating manner how he dived down to a whale mother with her calf nearby, and how she embraced him in the same manner she would do to protect her calf. As I sit here in my cubicle, surrounded by technology in a European city, I am reminded of the natural beauty of Africa that I used to live so close to.

Comments:

Hi Johan,

I heard today that Lyall Watson had passed away so i started thinking about writing the story about our experience with Lyall and Misty and a dolphin called freedom. I stumbled across this blog and thought i must contact you.
If you have any more recollections about the story it would be great.

Still in Scarborough, where are you based?

Regards,

Terry and Janis and Aaron and Hope

Posted by Terry Corr on July 06, 2008 at 08:43 AM IST #

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