21 Jan 2006

More Thames Whale

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Every year, significant numbers of whales individually or en masse strand themselves on the world’s shorelines. Some 10 species of whales mass strand regularly and another 10 species do so occasionally. Most strandings are of toothed whale species.

In other times, the curious periodic behavioral choice of members of certain species of cetaceans, particularly bottlenose whales, stranding themselves on Northern European shores would have been regarded as evidence of the bounty of God, and taken as cause for celebration of the arrival of valuable supplies of meat and oil. Today, urbanized and deracinated humanity typically has forgotten all this, and has no use for whale meat.

But, even today, stranding whales continue to provide for the needs of at least select portions of humanity: for the Press, which covers each such incident as an unprecedented and astonishing 90 day wonder and a heart-rending tragedy; for do-gooders, environmentalists, and animal activists who come running to attempt to de-strand whales determined to strand themselves; and for sophisters, calculators, and economists who get to theorize about what exactly causes whale stranding.

Some humans-are-responsible whale stranding theories include:

naval sonar

increased pair-trawling

Other theories include:

sloping beaches and bubbles

inner ear infections

herd instinct

injury or disease

And what does modern Homo urbanensis do to help stranded whales?

call Big Brother!

throw water on them, and refloat them

shoot ’em

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Despite human and governmental efforts to return it to the sea, and limitless media concern, the bottlenose whale passed away (as it probably had been intending all along).

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