Saturday, April 21, 2012

Whale Grave



That day, on the other side of the hill, we found four huge skulls. Brown with oil, the skulls lay in a neat row, identical in size; they were from the last great whale stranding. Behind them rose the burial mounds, fallen in where the innards had rotted, rib bones of the leviathans looking like strange plants poking out of the earth.



This place is where their carcasses end up. This is where the whales go when they have died in front of humans. They are towed to a boat ramp and craned onto a flatbed truck. There is no brine to smooth and support their perfect bodies. Sand sticks to their skin. People take photographs of the ungainly mess with mobile phones and then the whales are driven away from the sea forever.



From Whale, Daughter, by Sarah Toa.
Overland, issue 205, 2011.

9 comments:

  1. Sad, they need a sea burial.

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  2. Pick up the bones? Use them for something? Carve them with ancient tales and sell them to idiots as scrimshaw? Make your corset stays from them? Make shirt collar stiffeners from them? Make dildos for the wives of drowned fishermen who will never return? Make clicky sticks for English folk-singers? Make massive necklaces out of the vertebrae for drug-dealers?

    Jeez - there has to be something you can do with them. I hope I have a use when I'm gone.

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  3. I'm sure you will live on forever in the comments section Tom!
    They were probably buried at the sand quarry so that the skeletons could be reassembled at the whaling museum. If you go back to the sea shepherd posts via my labels there is a picture of Paul Watson standing under the skeleton of a blue whale.

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  4. "He (Bobby) sat there on the cart holding them horses at the waterfront where the whales were brought up and he looked over and saw whale bones on the beach and he remembered being back out east, ahead of the cliffs with John Eyre, when Eyre sent everyone else home and they were on that big beach by them huge dunes and those whale bones were piled high in latticed hillocks from one end to the other and he knew something terrible was happening, something was going on that was all wrong, but what could he do only go along in his days and do what he had to to keep himself moving."

    That's Lydia narrating "What Happened To Bobby Roberts". The more I think about those days of old and Kim Scott's whale sequences in 'That Deadman Dance' the more I realise the extent of the massacre. Long time ago now, I know. But still...

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Hey Sarah, that email addy you gave me doesn't seem to work

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  7. Ciaran, when Sven Foyn (I think that was his name) invented the steam powered gunships, the whole ide of sportsmanship and hunting whales, was blown out of the water. (sorry for the pun).

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  8. I haven't got to that point yet. Eyre talks about Fowlers Bay in his journal, the obvious success of the whalers given the prevalence of bones. I keep thinking about Wylie arriving there on the Hero, Wiguldy and his Mirning tribesmen in the dunes watching over them and all those bones for the next couple of months, Eyre having sent everyone else home and them trying day after day to drag the drays through the sand, going nowhere..

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  9. For the whales, it just got worse but by 1860 there weren't any Rights left, just Humpbacks yielding half the oil..

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