Thursday, January 28, 2016

look, it's moby's dick

Couple of further cetacean observations: firstly that there was a bit about the whale strandings on the Today programme this morning which included the claim that the sperm whale's brain is the largest of any animal that has ever lived. I'm not disputing the claim, since it's true, but it does seem to be begging a flippant response along the lines of: well, that's as may be, but they're not very fucking bright, are they? The big blubbery cretins. Harsh? Perhaps.

Secondly, there seems to be a bit of a journalistic thing of calling sperm whales "gentle giants". I'm not sure where this comes from, but while you could argue for the description being appropriate for the big filter-feeding rorquals like the blue whale, sperm whales are actually some bad-ass motherfuckers. For one thing, they eat squid, including the big ones, and they have been rumoured to attack and sink ships, though there's some doubt as to how likely that is. It hasn't stopped Hollywood basing the plot of the new movie In The Heart Of The Sea around it, though. The film is a fictionalised version of the story of the ill-fated whaling ship Essex as previously mentioned here - I couldn't speak for the whole film but the trailers are heavy on the whale-wrangling and boat-smashing and light on the murder and cannibalism.

Lastly, most of the news stories about the recent strandings mention that the whales were all male - as it happens you ought to be able to work this out just by looking at the pictures of the corpses. Honestly, you don't know where to look. Gentle giants? More like genital giants, amirite?

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