Oil on canvas, 20×30″, November 2008.
This painting’s story is a little long and windy. Allow me to explain:
Only 6 miles or so off the cost of Monterey, California, a great deal of whales travels past more or less all year. Grey Whales and Humpback Whales travel to Baja Mexico for mating. Orcas travel along for hunting, while some Orcas even became resident in Monterey bay, feeding on seals and the occasional whale calf.
Oh, and there are Blue Whales, too. A great number of them. They weren’t known to be traveling through that stretch or water until not long ago, or they changed their routes in the early eighties, but they now come along every mid summer. I haven’t had luck with spotting a Blue Whale myself yet, but I have been out watching for whales a couple of times. The Whale Watching company of choice has marine biologists on board, and they tell me how elusive those big animals are:
Scientists have tried tagging Blue Whales will all kinds of high-tech and low-tech gizmos and contraptions, yet have still to find out where the whales go, and where they mate.
I can’t help feeling smug about this. I don’t understand why we cannot accept not to understand something. Some things should just be left in peace and on their own devices.
Take, for example, the finding of an ancient tomb. Scientists will be hugely disappointed and frustrated to find that it has been opened and raided two centuries ago, and will be delighted if not – only then to proceed raiding the previously untouched tomb. All in the name of science of course.
So anyway, those biologists tell me that one could try to renegotiate international shipping routes, for example, if those were found crossing the Blue Whales’ routes or mating grounds. I don’t know. Since hunting stopped, the animals are recovering. I am sure they’d be most happy to be left in peace.
Not through scientific instruments, but by sheer contemplation, however, I have now successfully determined the location of the Blue Whale’s mating grounds: They go to that other place that we have so far failed to find.
Finally, here’s an 2017 epilogue to that tale. Scientists were wondering about a huge gathering of whales somewhere in the Southern Ocean. I think these were Humpback Whales, but the point is that scientists were unable to explain this gathering in previously unseen numbers. The most promising theory was that perhaps that’s what they do given that numbers are back to some level approaching normality.