I, Iggy the Pot-Belly, was saddened to read about the mass beaching of whales in the Bahamas recently. My Daddy told me that pigs are related to whales in a pretty direct way – not that all of us aren’t somehow related from that single organism many years ago. I had to think that whales, who are considered very intelligent mammals, would have to have some really good reason to purposely throw their bodies on the beach to die. I’ve heard of it happening before. I thought maybe there was a message they were trying to send to the rest of us on shore.

The scientific name for whales and dolphins is Cetacea. I guess cetaceans are like pigs, who rose out of the water sometime during “evolution” actually became mammals and could breathe air, but instead of becoming elephants or hippos or wild boars, they went back in the ocean to live. I’d like to believe that was a good decision – except for all the pollution humans have dumped into the water.

Scientists who study brains say that whales are intelligent because they have a highly developed cerebral cortex. So do primates and dolphins. The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of advanced brains that evolved last in all animals. It is the seat of higher mental functioning. In Cetaceans, the cerebral cortex is very large, especially in relation to the rest of the brain. Cetaceans are also endowed with well-developed frontal lobes. This would indicate a whale is capable of abstract thought, just like humans (and pigs). How in the world would anyone know what abstract thoughts a whale is thinking?

Unfortunately, because humans have dominated (or so they think) the world and its ecosystems, if you don’t speak their language – and knowing English is usually the key – they don’t think you are smart. Since people can’t understand pig language or dog talk or whale speak, they assume those creatures have nothing to say.

People who study and listen to whales now realize that they “sing” to each other under water. Some of them even have their songs on tapes and CD’s for you to hear. Evidently, the songs of the whales are how they communicate and individual songs can be recognized. According to what I read on the Internet (yes, I can type with these hooves), whale sounds travel hundreds of kilometers beneath the sea and represent “long distance calls” to each other.

Now, what I found out in the news is that biologists think they know why those whales beached themselves. Autopsies suggest a link between Navy sonar tests and ear hemorrhages that disoriented the whales. Biologists found the whales in otherwise good health and concluded that they died of the equivalent of a “really bad headache.” Apparently the whales suffered minor to severe hemorrhages in or around the ears caused by “a distant explosion or an intense acoustic event,” said the Fisheries Service. Before the beaching, the Navy had transmitted signals from hull-mounted sonars that reached around 235 decibels. The military thinks they need to do this as “anti-submarine” exercises.

It seems few whale strandings have ever been explained. Now researchers are discovering that some whale beachings in the past happened around the same time as Navy sonar tests. I wonder how it affected all the other sea creatures.

Think about it. Whales communicate by emitting loud singing noises to each other beneath the sea, so their ears must be very sensitive to sounds like that so they understand each other. What kind of hideous message was the Navy sonar test telling them at 235 decibels? Is there really such a threat of war going on now that the military needs to spend its time doing anti-submarine tests? Can’t humans learn to speak to whales and other animals in their own language without killing them?

I don’t have anyone for you to write or call about this. It’s just a shame. Some humans fight to save whales and appreciate their existence, such as Dr. James Darling, who wrote: “No living animals have captured our imaginations as have the great whales . . . They fire our imaginations and stab at our emotions. They inspire our art, literature, and music. And so they should. The indescribable blend of grace, power, and beauty of a whale as it glides underwater, leaps toward the sky, or simply lifts its flukes and slides into the sea symbolizes a vanishing poetry of the wild.”