Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fish With Wombs

A friend sent an e-mail/blog recently (notes from zone ten - blayney colemore) that told about being on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego when, low and behold, when told they could move about the cabin, penguins, bound for Sea World, began to stroll up and down the isle.  He had pictures to prove it.   (Being in his sixties, he never talks on a cell phone but finds it a handy portable camera). 

I was immediately reminded of the can-do penguin commando team in the Madascar movies.   

Mission accomplished, privates.  Not only are we going to Sea World easy street but we’re going first class.”

All the passengers were giddy with surprise and delight.   The penguins look relaxed and inquisitive and very much at home.  As a matter of fact, they look like house pets, cute and feathered.   I liked the fact that unlike dogs, they walk themselves.   I wondered if penguins shed.

Personally, I would like to see a walrus move about the main cabin of an airplane, begging for peanuts.  

(Wait, actually I have.   I was in the middle seat, Atlanta to Dallas and she sat next to me.   It was like sitting next to an overstuffed  mattress only you couldn’t sleep on it.)

I like walruses.

I like their size.  Their dignity.   At Sea World, which for the most part I detest – seen one fish, seen them all - they sit there like kingly Buddha’s, heads high, tusks forward, unruffled, dozing and wise.  In truth, of course, walruses are mean, territorial sons of bitches who will fight at the drop of a hat.

Walruses don’t seem to enjoy walking at all.  In fact, they look like they avoid exercise all together.   Good for them.

Walrus bulls maintain harems.  Good for them.

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.

Sounds like a congressional hearing, especially when you consider the fact that walrus like to bellow, snort and blow.  When they get in one another’s faces, their heads move forward and back like seesaws.

A walrus’s scientific name translates as tooth-walking sea-horse.

A dolphin’s name, taken from the Greek, translates as “fish with a womb”. 

I mention this because I like dolphins even more than I like walruses.  Dolphins seem to be laughing and playing all the time.   The first time I saw real live dolphins was on a boat out of Miami bound for Bimini in the Bahamas.  We crossed the gulf stream, the water turned aquamarine and suddenly there they were, surfing off the bow.  It was as if they’d come out to escort us in.

The Cove might be saddest movie ever made.  It is a documentary about Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are corralled to be sold alive to aquariums and marine parks, or are slaughtered for meat.

Dolphins have been known to commit suicide  because of the stress of being in captivity.  They go under water, they don’t come up.

This, and because of the seventy dollar ticket price, is another reason I detest Sea World.   Dolphins should not be in a place that is half water park.   Let’s not even talk about the trick killer whales.

To be fair, I also detest Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knottsberry Farms and Leggoland – all places I’ve been forced to go because of my children.

And also to be fair, one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen happened at Sea World.   They had created a short lived program for children on the autism spectrum where the kids got into wet suits and then were taken into the Dolphin pens by the trainers.   The dolphins, ever curious, came up to the children and allowed themselves to be touched and even climbed upon.   I’m not sure if they didn’t give the children quick rides around the pen.  I’d like to think they did. 

Children who rarely made eye contact with fellow human beings communed contently with the fish with wombs.

There was one boy in attendance.   Deep on the spectrum.  Non-verbal.  Disconnected.   When he saw the dolphins, his body and soul shook with ecstasy.    His parents and trainer took him down to sit at the edge of the pool and the dolphins approached and he reached out and he touched them. 

Dolphins, he cried!   Dolphins!   And he laughed.   It was one of the most joyful laughs I’ve ever heard.


It was as if he was recognizing and greeting long lost relatives. 

1 comment:

  1. Stephen, I read your frustration in that comment about a many my age never using his cell phone except for an occasional photo. But I ma not in my 60s. I left them behind a year ago. And a month ago I learned how to text from my children who refuse to be drawn into lengthy philosophical email exchanges, telling me if I want to hear from them – and continue to hold out on Facebook and Twitter – texting is my only hope.

    It's raining in Vermont and the game warden shot the swan on our pond. More about that outrage later.