The Story of a Compassionate Baby Whale
This is a story about the Humpback whales and their friendship with humanity.
Most of you have heard of the female Humpback whale entangled in crab traps and lines, that was assisted off the coast of California when divers came to her rescue. The whale quietly allowed the men to unwind and cut the lines that dug deeply into her skin and mouth. They set the whale free. At that point, she did not merely swim away. The whale made eye contact and circled the men, certainly saying thank you before swimming into the open ocean. One of the men claimed he was changed forever by this close encounter with this sensitive whale. **
It is a reminder that cetaceans and animals too have feelings of pain, sadness and gratitude. They are aware and are interacting with people on an intelligent and caring level. Most likely they always have been. Now we are noticing.
During my Humpback whale Seminar in Tahiti, my friend FV from Holland joined us to meet the Humpback whales in the remote and quiet waters near Rurutu Island. FV and his wife have joined me before on excursions to meet the dolphins and whales. They have a deep connection to our finned friends FV is unable to walk or use his legs since childhood, but nevertheless his love for the whales brings him to the ocean.
Now in French Polynesia, we climbed aboard the boat of the local fisherman, to enjoy the clear waters of the Pacific. Stopping to observe a young whale with his mother, everyone was feeling peaceful and appreciative. The baby whale was active on the surface and continually came to our stationary boat. The Mom whale was quietly resting below, her baby was old enough to explore the nearby vicinity on his own.
Keeping our little boat at a respectful distance, we slowly entered the water to cool off, float, enjoy the natural setting and see what might happen. FV was on the boat with me. He and his lovely wife, slipped easily into the ocean.
Although he had no use of his legs, his arms were strong and he wore webbed gloves to assist him in swimming. Our small boat moved away to be clear of the approaching whales, the group treaded water and waited. FV floated silently with the rest of us, his legs hanging straight down.
As a facilitator, I am always watching the swimmers and noticing their behavior, making sure everyone is feeling fine, safe and following the protocols. We had entered the world of the whales. The group had been briefed on correct behavior for non-intrusive, in-water observation if the whales come by. We never touch the whales. As we waited, enjoying the crystal clear water below us, viewed through our snorkeling masks, the baby whale approached us.
As usual with these playful young whales, he was curious and attentive; blinking his soft brown eyes as he slowly swam by each one of us.
We watched in awe as he dove, rolled upside down and circled us, putting on a wonderful show, looking at us, perhaps sensing our reaction. We couldn’t help but feel he was happy to have an audience.
Motionless, with the waves lapping on my ears, I began observing this baby whale circling slowly beneath FV while he pivoted in place to have the best view. Taking my eyes away from this lovely vision, I decided to look up and check that everyone was okay, as they floated quietly in the water. I could see that no one was on the boat with the captain and so I counted the heads of the swimmers (8 of us). Everyone was there. Suddenly I noticed FV moving swiftly through the water. How can that be? He was not using his arms. He was moving without effort.
I quickly put my head under water to have a look. And there to my amazement, was the baby whale giving FV a ride, not on his back, but on his tail! Apparently the whale slowly circled FV, making sure FV was comfortable with his presence, coming closer and closer, and when it seemed alright, the whale had carefully placed the smooth front side of his tail, behind the knees of FV. He was now gently pulling FV along the surface, giving him a ride and helping him move along faster than he could do on his own. He appeared to be sitting on the tail. That was where the whale had gently placed him.
Everyone in the water was watching. It was an intentional act by this baby Humpback as he singled out FV who could not use his legs. How did the whale know that? The fourteen foot Humpback had carefully placed the smooth part of his fluke against the back of the knees of FV and began to move forward, staying carefully on the surface while supporting him. The care and gentleness touched our hearts. Within our snorkeling masks, tears flowed as every man and woman was moved by the realization of what they were seeing. A compassionate act of love given to our dear friend FV, responding to his wish to meet the whales in their environment, regardless of the challenges – a gift given him for his unending love for the whales.
When FV hoisted himself back up on the boat, his face was radiant with joy!
There is a deep, ancient relationship between cetaceans and humans. We are drawn to each other to meet and learn together. Size differences do not matter, brains and bodies are just the vehicles we ride in, to live our lives on earth. Meanwhile, we are able to inspire and be thankful for each other for our uniqueness and our kindred souls. It feels like a Remembering….. This friendship is a reminder of our inherent connection to alll ife. The whales call it: The Oneness.
These copyrighted photos were taken by Lisa Denning, photographer. www.joanocean.com.