ark, smooth, shining, with patches of barnacles like flocks of sheep on the face of a great marble mountain, rising from the salty waves; open – an eye; see – miles of shore, sanded but for the darts of rocks in the tide, air bubble goodbyes of mole crabs, and silently mysterious, formidable, dark statues. Hauled out of the sea just above the tidal line, their silhouette in the sunrise rivals the shadows of the dunes. Majestic, and ominous, they lay still, removed from their realm, surveying a domain of beach, unfamiliar land. With all dignity they await the hands of the waves to carry them back to their underwater realm.
In total, ten whales died March 15, 2000, on the beaches of the Bahamas. Scientists counted “14 beaked whales, 2 minke whales and 1 spotted dolphin” beached (Williams), but as many have observed, the islands are so large it is possible many others suffered the same fate, but that their bodies were never discovered. There have been many mass, multi-species beachings of cetaceans in the past: “The Canary Islands,
Hands come, but they push, prod, sponge, push, poke, push, and then stroke, for no more pushing will do any good. This majestic being will die at the hands of those who drove their hulking six tons of body, history, love, and life, onto this sanded shore. As the waves recede, two veins run down the great marble face, not of quartz, but blood ruby red, one from the ear, the other leaking from the corner of their lips. Deep inside this marble mountain resounds a ‘thump, thump.’ It is not the romantic heart, nor mountain miners, but the steady pounding of bone on flesh, as with each breath their weight slowly crushes their lungs. They bear the pain of death perhaps not knowing their pod lays strewn across miles of beach beyond sight, but within the same tragedy.
The journal of the University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program