Phillip Hoare talks to Lewis Lapham about “the superlatives and impossibilities of the whale”:
At that point, one of the whales … probably the matriarch of the group, the biggest female whale … detached itself from the pod and started swimming towards me … At this point I lost control of my bodily functions. I felt — rather than heard — I felt the whale’s sonar, click click click, moving through my skull, through my sternum, through my whole skeleton. And it was echolocating me; it was like I was in a huge MRI scan … It was actually reading me in the water — kind of ironic, because I’d spent five years trying to describe whales and here was a whale trying to describe me. And at that moment it just turned on its side and it was as close to me as this microphone is now … and it looked me straight in the eye, this huge whale eye. And the amazing thing was that this eye was sentient. It was understanding me … And then it dove.
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(Photo by Dr. Peter G. Allinson)