July 1, 2009

Communicating with Orcas' Reproductive Organs

Telepaths, space porpoises, and orca facialsCommunicating with Orcas: The Whales' Perspective by Mary Getten (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2006, ISBN: 1-57174-466-5)

This book was written by: Mary J. Getten, who interviewed a number of whales with the help of her friend, Raphaela. Raphaela and Ms. Getten communicate with the whales telepathically, which is not unusual because "all humans are born with this ability, but in the 'civilized' world we have lost these skills through socialization"(p.35). Statements made by the whales are in italics, and Getten notes that "everything in this book is true," even though "I have taken some liberties with the order of these conversations, and who said what to whom, but the words remain intact"(p.ix). It's just like the time I told a police officer that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct, and he called me a stinking fascist and screamed at me to waddle my filthy pig ass back to the donut shop.

What is in this book: Whale penis. Actually, "in the business [...] a whale's penis is known as a sea snake"(p.79). A whale wang sea snake is "prominent and easily seen, [but] it can be floppy when distended."(p.83). "A sea snake is about six feet long and six inches across, if you can imagine"(p.79), and most visible when "males roll at the surface with their penises extended"(p.90). However, it's difficult to tell when whales are mating. "If you're lucky you glimpse an erect penis flailing above the water, but that's about it"(p.81)
Ms. Getten is an avid student of marine biology, noting that a sea snake is "an absolutely awesome sight!"(p.79) Unfortunately, not all of her whale-(penis-)watching trips yield results, and at one point she complains that "it's not fair, Granny. I went out on over a hundred trips this year and never saw any action"(p.82), lamenting the fact that "I didn't see any [sea snakes] this summer, that's why I'm complaining"(p.79). Ms. Getten also relates an anecdote where a passenger on her whale watching boat said she saw a set of snakes "flopping around so much I was afraid I was going to get hit by one," and Ms. Getten earnestly states "I would have given anything to be hit by one"(p.90).

What not in this book? Whale rape, statutory or otherwise. Yes, whales are "fascinated by the sound frequency emitted by screaming girls"(p.74), and when questioned about it, one of the whales explains that "I enjoy their growth and visit them in their dreams"(p.75). Getten writes that "I didn't like the way this conversation was going. Frankly, it was a bit too creepy for me"(p.75), but it could have been worse. It's not like whales are building secret torture pens in their basements, and it's nothing like the video Ms. Getten watched that "showed very aggressive male dolphins working together to gang-rape females"(p.89).

Would you recommend this book to Fox Mulder? Yes. Not only is the truth out there, it has been loitering in our harbors and clogging our commercial fishing equipment for some time now. Ms. Getten "saw harbor porpoises traveling through outer space!"(p.143) Porpoises are taking to the stars because "they are not originally from this planet. They have fulfilled their time here."(p.143).

Would you recommend this book to a member of the International Whaling Commission? Yes, but it might not be exceptionally helpful. Although readers of the book can gain an increased understanding of the whales' perspective, the whales never explain why they're so delicious.
I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. Killing and eating marine mammals is just gratuitous cruelty—unless you're talking about spacefaring porpoises, because they're totally asking for it:

The battering continued for several minutes. The poor porpoise was struck again and again, and then finally an orca surfaced with the porpoise lying crossways in her mouth. She and the others dove down and did not reappear for five minutes. We never saw that porpoise again.
"Do the resident whales ever eat porpoises?"
"Yes, they are quick. This is not a staple, not something that we do every day, but it does happen from time to time. We ask them, and they offer."

Would you bone Jesus? Inquiring whales want to know, "What if your Jesus came to earth? [....]Would you feel entirely comfortable having sex with him?"(p.183) I think that leaving the son of god with blue balls must be some kind of sin, but I'd need at least a few boxes of wine and some Marvin Gaye records before I could give him a happy ending.

What was interesting about this book? It is remarkably difficult to get a whale pissed off. Noisy boats? "We get relief at night. We adapt, as you do"(p.32). Their brothers and sisters taken captive and penned in small tanks? "These beings are heroic. Some came into captive bodies with the intent of working with scientists and researchers"(p.181). Pollution the ocean that kills them along with all the other sea life? "This is not doom, our deaths. [...] Our deaths are no different from a human's heart having an attack, signaling that care of the body needs to change"(p.249). Overall, "I find these whales to be incredibly tolerant"(p.32).

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Keith said...

I had to check with google to convince myself that this book is real.

Keith said...

The Amazon Reviews are loads of fun.

Whales in the dreams of children, whale spirituality, whale sex and whale governance are all things we'll not likely get from scientific researchers for decades, perhaps a century or two.
This is not for folks who think that actual communication with whales (or other critters) is impossible. Those folks are probably the same people who get angry at their dogs for not doing what they are told.
Mary's writing is clear and accessible and the stories of whale sex are quite funny. I mean laugh-out-loud, drool on the PAGE funny.
Before reading this book, I would never have entertained the idea that communication with a whale or any other animal for that matter could indeed be possible. One has to be able to accept that things do exist that are not readily proven or explained by Newtonian scientific theories.

Amazing find.

Bitterly Books said...

This is not for folks who think that actual communication with whales (or other critters) is impossible. Those folks are probably the same people who get angry at their dogs for not doing what they are told.

I like how being able to talk with animals lets you keep your dog from being disobedient.

What happens when you can talk with your dog, but he ignores you anyway because he's a jerk?

Booktender said...

Remind me not to get into a fight with a whale!

Now I'm puttin' on my tinfoil hat to go outside and converse with the local gila monsters.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

Wow. This is just jaw-dropping. It is also the first time I have been tempted to actually read the book you're reviewing.
Just tempted, mind you.

Bitterly Books said...

@Booktender: I wouldn't worry about getting into a fight with one because they're so tolerant, but I'd definitely avoid going on a date with one.

@bzzzzgrrrl: There are certainly worse things out there that you could be reading. Anything by Ann Coulter, for example.

I've actually had this book on my shelf for over a year--if I had known what I was getting into, I would have started it a lot sooner.

Thanks to all three of you for stopping by!

SqueamishOne said...

Oh my god.

Floppy whale dicks. Everywhere.

Read this on poe, followed it here.

You are a godsend, good sir.

Bitterly Books said...

Thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

K. Signal Eingang said...

This is the best one yet. I will never again be able to hear the phrase "sea snake" without giggling stupidly.

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