The Saddest Song

The Loneliest Whale in the
Ocean Can’t Find Her Mate

Her voice was first heard in 1989. Oceanographers have been following her songs for two decades. It all indicates that she’s a baleen whale, a subspecies that includes the great Blue, the Fin and the Humpback whales. But there’s something very sad about this creature.
Unlike any other in the ocean, she (or he, no one knows its gender) sings at a 51.75Hz frequency, way above the 12 to 25Hz range of every other whale. It’s a frequency her kind can’t hear and as she ages, her songs are getting lower and lower in pitch too.
A study in 2004 determined that the sounds come from a single animal whose movements “appear to be unrelated to the presence of other whale species.” In other words, she’s always alone and even the migration paths that she follows year after year are unique.
And yet she sings. Her elaborate songs come in groups of two to six calls, lasting for five to six seconds each. But it’s unlikely that this whale will ever mate, which is tragic since cetaceans have such a rich and complex social life.
Some insist that there must be something wrong with this whale, called 52 Hertz, in the cold, unsentimental jargon spoken by most scientists. Others blame sound pollution of the oceans, for many, the main reason why large groups of marine mammals beach themselves to death.
In our flawed taste for anthropomorphizing animal behavior, we just feel for this creature, however misplaced the sentiment may be. Of course, we imagine ourselves out there, in the vast ocean with no one
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Read Also:
* Floating Enigmas
* Great White Cafe
* Beneath the Waves

to love, talk to, play with, and we feel like crying. Really.
Which would be completely silly and self serving. Still we hope, without any basis on reality, that things are not that bad for this individual who, if life runs its course, still has at least some 20 years left of solitude.
We should always be careful when observing non-human species, though. The sheer brain size of whales, for example, may not add any rationality to their world but certainly gives pause to those quick (and shallow) assumptions about animals.
In terms of species, no other is more solitary than ours. We can’t even imagine a different world without using some hard-wired empathy mechanisms to analyze it. So here’s to the sad songs of an unique marine creature and to the even sadder state of the human condition.

* Originally published in March 2011.

Great White Cafe

Waiting Anxiously for a Ping
From Our Local Shark Mary Lee

Excuse me for a second, but let’s give a shout out to a creature no one has seen or heard from since last year: Mary Lee, where are you? People are concerned, you know? They wonder if the battery of your tracking device has expired. Or it was just you who’s stopped running.
We’d totally understand, of course, but it’d make us terribly sad. You see, Shark Week came and went, your kind has been seen up and down the coast. Even a couple of crooks tried to steal a horn shark on a baby stroller in San Antonio, for crying out loud. But from you, not a beep.
Mary Lee, you see, is a 16-foot, 3,456-pound great white shark who’s been visiting this corner of the Atlantic for the past several years. Since she’s been tagged by Ocearch, tracking her swimmings have become the stuff of dream vacations to many. Florida, Bermuda, well, yes, the Jersey Shore.
Then, sometime before June of 2017, puff, silence, worry, and now, apprehension: is she still alive? Thus, plain calling out her name may just do the trick for bringing her back to our lives. All else has failed so far. Either way, she won’t be forgotten.
Our local shark must have won many battles, and the hazards of celebrity are certainly not of her concern. Still, the allure of the big fish never seems to phase out. Just the other night, Jaws was playing on a small bar. And the place would still get very quiet at times.

THE RUMBLE OF 300 TEETH
People feign fear of great whites (in the safety of land), but are actually obsessed by them. Surely way more than the small number of annual attacks would justify it. In fact, sharks face extinction, (more)
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Read Also:
* Beneath the Waves
* The Whale Report
* Flipper Backlash

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One if By Land, Two if By Sea

Rats Against Mines &
Piranhas at the Beach

Without scientific research, we’d be probably living in Revolutionary War conditions. But no matter how far we’ve advanced, we still count on animals to do our own heavy lifting.
Take the technology developed for war, for example. Since immemorial times, we’ve been perfecting the art of killing each other and who has been our unwilling partner on such a devilish enterprise?
An animal, of course. The same being that we alternately treat as company, food, and deity representation, according to the mood that suits us best at any given moment.
Let’s no mention when we combine two or all of these Continue reading