Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Inside Natures Giants: Whale

WARNING:

The following review contains very explicit images of animal viscera, gore and whale genitalia. If you are not comfortable with this STOP NOW. If you are scroll down for the article.

 

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So how do you follow last weeks brilliant dissection of  an elephant? How about dissecting a whale. A small one of course.

One thing that struck me about this week excursion was the sheer size of a “small” whale the corpse was bloated with gas and become a kind of landmark in the two days it had sat decomposing on an Irish beach. This lead me to the other major observation of this story. Why on earth were people comfortable taking/allowing their children to visit, walk on, and eventually watch the dissection of a whale. Blood, guts and rotting flesh are everywhere and anyone in the slightest bit involved is so sealed in anti-pathogen precautions that they look like they have just come straight from the set of a Bond Movie. But people seemed perfectly happy to show their children exactly what is going on in what our presenter describes as “The most incredible smell”

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The logistics of dissecting a whale are quite clearly, absolutely terrifying. Even puncturing the blubber runs the associated risk of a Vesuvius like explosion of guts as evidenced in a clip from a similar carcass dissected in Denmark. This needed tact and patience as the blubber was pierced in several places to allow gases to escape.

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This would then allow the blubber to be peeled back and the guts to spill onto the beach in an astounding torrent. The dissection really was a spectacle of gore but the series continues to establish the educational bent so far shown with CGI graphics and life footage of whales explaining subjects such a reproduction, communication and navigation. It was also fascinating to see and hear about the whales multi -chambered stomach and its genetic links to ungulates making the hippo a whales closest living relative. This evidence alone shows compellingly the theory  of evolution. vlcsnap-1721476The Whale was a female so unfortunately the opportunity to see a 3 metre penis and 2 tons worth of testicles was passed by however reproduction was covered with eye watering footage proving for all time that I’d love to be a male Whale… and hate to be a female!vlcsnap-1732229 

However in all this the two most disturbing aspects of the story was the presentation of a Whale foetus taken from the womb of another dissection and the removal and dissection of the Whales eye. This i guess is due to its comparisons to our own anatomy. The rest of the dissection was so grand in scale that the masses of blubber flesh and gore seemed to lose all perspective and simply become Whale. It was clear from the stomach contents that the Whale had not been eating and therefore may have come to shallow water through weakness, unfortunately when the tide goes out this leaves whales stranded and it is likely this one suffocated through the weight of its own organs. vlcsnap-1736403

Overall this was another fascinating program and different in nature to the first due to its open air theatre. Well recommended and available to watch in the UK on 4oD.

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Paul out…

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