Occident Prone

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Save the whale stories

Posted by occidentprone on September 25, 2008

Another day, another whale story. This time a baby humpback is stranded at Jurien Bay. It’s not just a whale, it’s a baby whale and this ill kid can’t be saved.

The media love a good whale story. Human reporters and near-human editors like to anthropomorphise animals of all stripes. What good is a fantastic creature picture if people aren’t ascribing human emotions and features to the characters in it?

Here in WA, a famous case is the picture of giraffe Makulu by West Australian photographer Ron D’Raine. The picture is aesthetically cute on its own but once we project our own very human feelings about motherhood and babies on to it, the image of mother giraffe kissing the top of baby giraffe’s head is unforgettable.

So back to the big lumps of blubber in the ocean. What’s the attraction?

Whales are mysterious creatures. They’re mammals, like us, but dwell in the depths of the unknown. It’s a primal thing maybe or perhaps we look for twists on Biblical Jonah’s journey into the belly of the whale. And that whale song – talk about haunting.

Every permutation on a whale story is exploited in newspapers and on telly  – us humans offering help to stranded whales, like mythical mermaids caught twixt land and sea; the barbaric foreigners harming whales for base purposes – food; whale watching as faux connection with nature.

Some whale stories from around the world:

‘Orphaned’ whale thinks mother is yacht. (NineMSN)

Japan might kill world’s only white whale (The Telegraph)

Adding Weight to Suspicion, Sonar Is Linked to Whale Deaths (New York Times)

Study fails to link naval sonar with whale strandings (New Scientist)

So save the whale stories, I say. More whale yarns for everyone and if they’re sad we can have a blubber.

Read more about strandings world wide at whales.org.au. The site also has a clip of Sir Anthony Hopkins speaking out for whales (good with some fava beans and a nice little chianti, no doubt).

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