Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The PICWW 3: Snow White and the Unicorns.
This is the third edition in my Politically Incorrect Whale Watcher series. Today let us consider Belugas and their close relatives, Narwhals. They are medium-sized, highly gregarious whales that live in frigid Arctic waters. Belugas are snow white in color and among the most vocal of all whales, with glorious singing voices. Sadly, in addition to being beautiful, they are slow swimmers and easily captured, which makes them a common prisoner in oceanariums—but let us not go there (hint, hint). In contrast, Narwhals are mottled black and white in color but what makes them unique is the long spiral tusks of the males that inevitably links them with tales of the fabled unicorn. Males use these horns to impress the females. (Actually, some females also have them which is rather awkward to explain). These tusks are probably what keeps them from being captured. Can you imagine how tricky it would be for trainers to teach them to do stupid animal tricks without getting skewered? At any rate, I am particularly fond of my cousins, Snow White and the Unicorns, but I hope you only ever see them on Animal Planet or in the wild—dress warmly if you go.