20 Jan 2006

Whale Attracts Attention of Media and Government

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Urban dwellers like their experiences of Nature pre-packaged and predictable, and anything out of the ordinary will invariably throw them into a tizzy. The Press will emotionalize the situation and self-importantly opine. The government will step forward, inform everyone that it’s in charge, and proceed to do something designed to make itself appear necessary.

The latest collision of Nature with urbanized humanity is occurring in London, where –as the BBC reports — a 16-18 foot Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) for reasons of its own has swum up the Thames directly through the heart of London.

The Press is describing the event as unprecedented, but one suspects that the same species probably visited the Thames fairly regularly before Industrialization rendered the river inhospitable to cetean visits. Contemporary environmental measures (and the outsourcing of industrial activity to more remote regions) have obviously made the Thames cleaner today than it has been for a couple of centuries.

Concerned authorities and solicitous private well-wishers are hovering around the whale (accompanied by media helicopters), trying to prevent its stranding itself, overlooking the fact that bottlenose whales make a regular practice of doing precisely that in all the Northern European waters they frequent. See this Faroese account.

MSN video


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