Sometimes I look at our species, with all of our technology and ‘intelligence’ and I do wonder what the hell we’re up to… we really seem to be missing the point as we charge about the planet fighting and killing and generally making a bloody awful mess.
Now whales, they seem to have got this whole intelligence thing sussed. They have massive brains, not too different in complexity to our own, we know they are clever – probably more so than we give them credit – they are perfectly adapted to their environment; they do not degrade or deplete the resources which they rely on to live; they have evolved into the perfect animal to dwell on this planet, a planet that is approximately 70 percent water. Whales basically rock and yet we continue to massacre them in their hundreds.
Here is what the poet Heathcoat Williams has to say on the matter:
From space, the planet is blue.
From space, the planet is the territory
Not of humans, but of the whale.
Blue seas cover seven-tenths of the of the earth’s surface,
And are the domain of the largest brain ever created,
With a fifty-million-year-old smile.
Ancient, unknown mammals left the land
In search of food or sanctuary,
And walked into the water.
Their arms and hands changed into water-wings;
Their tails turned into boomerang-shaped tail-flukes,
Enabling them to fly, almost weightless, through the oceans;
Their hind-legs disappeared, buried deep within their flanks.
Free from land-based pressures:
Free from droughts, earthquakes, ice-ages, volcanoes, famine,
Larger brains evolved, ten times as old as man’s…
Other creatures, with a larger cerebral cortex…
Whale families, whale tribes,
All have different songs:
An acoustic picture-language,
Spirited pulses relayed through water
At five times the speed sounds travels through air,
Varied enough to express complex emotions,
A sense of the unknown.
A lone Humpback may put on a solo concert lasting for days.
Within a Humpback’s half-hour song
There are a hundred million bytes.
A million changes of frequency,
And a million tonal twists…
An Odyssey, as information-packed as Homer’s,
Can be told in thirty minutes;
Fifty-million-year-old sagas of continuous whale mind:
Accounts of the forces of nature;
The minutiae of a shared consciousness;
The accumulated knowledge of the past;
Rumours of ancestors, the Archaeoceti,
With life-spans of two and three hundred years;
Memories of loss;
Memories of ideal love;
Memories of meetings…
(Extracts taken from the book-length poem Whale Nation by Heathcoat Williams – Blue whale image created by the brilliant artists of Disney/Pixar)