For thousands of years, Whales have captured people’s imagination. People have regarded Whales to be gods, guardians, sea monsters, sources of food, and living islands. From classical Greek mythology to modern day movies, the Family of Whales (Cetaceans) has played a major part in many stories. According to Christians, God sent a Whale to swallow Jonah. Narwhal and his long tusk became the basis of Unicorn legends of the Middle Ages. In the Amazon River basin, people speak of River Dolphins disguising Themselves as men to woo the local girls. Meanwhile, Herman Melville’s novel, “Moby Dick” describes Sperm Whale as the Lord of Demons and Chaos. In the modern era, people see Whales as friends like Flipper (a Bottlenose Dolphin) of movie and TV fame. And, other people regard Cetaceans as mystical representatives from earth’s ancient days or from distant star systems.
Alien yet familiar Animals, Whales are Mammals who have totally adapted to the ocean, which is a hostile environment to air breathers. Scientists believe that the ancestor for Whales was a fish-eating land Mammal, related to modern hoofed Mammals. Further DNA tests show that Whales are actually related to Cows and Camels.
Although people regard Whales as one generic creature, They are divided into two groups, that are not closely related to each other – Baleen (Mysticeti) and Toothed (Odontoceti). To grasp the difference between the two Groups of Living Whales, think of how closely Cows are related to Camels. Baleen Whales, the largest animals on earth, filter food through their baleen. Famous for their singing, Baleen Whales’ songs have been popular as music recordings. More social than Baleen Whales, Toothed Whales live in larger groups called Pods. Unlike Baleen Whales, Toothed Whales use echolocation to find their prey.
Individual Whale Species differ greatly from each other as well. Among Baleen Whales, Right Whales resemble big boats, while Fin Whales are shaped like cruisers. With their square heads, Sperm Whales (who are Toothed Whales) look like submarines. Baleen Whales have two blowholes, while Toothed Whales only have one. Right Whales produce a distinctive V Shape blow, and Sperm Whales’ blows slant forward and to the left.
Living in the ocean, which is both fatal and vital to people, Whales have become intermediaries between people and other worlds. With their forceful leaps to the sky and dives to the ocean’s depths, Whales become the nexus between heaven and earth. If you want to go between worlds, let Whales be your guide.
Whales’ Teachings Also Include:
“Whale teaches us to participate in the life of our society, sing the archetypical songs of our culture – its assumptions, beliefs, behaviors – and still maintain our own unique ‘style’.” -- Copyright: “Shamanic Wisdom II”, Dolfyn and Swimming Wolf.
"Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale
In his ocean home will be
A giant in might, where might is right,
And King of the boundless sea." --WHALE SONG.
“One of the most mystifying things about cetaceans is trying to work out just what they are doing while you are watching them.” – Copyright, “Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises”, The Nature Company Guides
“Whale has the ability to live in the present moment, conscious of the fact that he sees life as a reflection of who he is.” – Copyright: “Wisdom of Australian Animals”, Ann Williams-Fitzgerald.
“Whale is a totem of unconditional love and of communication with the whale, you learn equanimity of the soul.” – Copyright, “The Spirit of Place”, Loren Cruden.
“With a frigate's anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!” – Copyright: “Moby Dick”, Herman Melville
Take time to read what the individual Whale Teachers have to teach.
Note: Baleens are thin, long, triangular plates of keratin (same material that human hair and nails are made from). These plates grow down from Baleen Whale’s gums, covering the upper jaw.
Note: Echolocation is the sending out sound signals and interpreting the echoes. In their foreheads, Toothed Whales possess an organ called a melon, which acts as a sonar lens to focus sound.
Conservation Note: Whales are seriously endangered, and some species may not recover. They are protected by international treaties. Moreover, many countries have restrictions on whale watching to keep the whales safe during breeding seasons.