Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A 50-ton bowhead whale killed by Alaskan whalers in May was found to have the remnants of a 19th century explosive harpoon lodged in its neck.

Calculating a whale's age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses. It's rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old.

Imagine a possible 200 years in the depths, sentinel to all of that which is still unknown to us -- amazing.

I am so enchanted by the sea and pre-mechanized mariner life, and as such I was fascinated and excited by the find. But I am also melancholy about the end for this whale.

I recognize that there are Inuit and other indigenous cultures who still follow the old ways, and honor whales like many Native Americans honored buffalo. And yeah, who am I to talk -- I still eat meat. But I am still thinking: with all we (even indigenous peoples) have to eat, how can we continue to kill creatures like this, and kill them so brutally -- these grand beings left over from a time before our time?

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Blogger Trevor said...


Thanks for sharing this news. It is meloncholy--but on the other end, the whale lived long past the life expectancy normally believed--150 years, so at least take solace in that the whale lived a long, and by the look of it, adventurous, life.

Oh, and as usual, your writing is so elegant! "200 years in the depths, sentinel to all of that which is still unknown to us" is quite heartfelt and evocative. Kudos on the strong writing. You give blogging a good name. :)


June 13, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM PDT  

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