01 Feb I know why 95% of the ocean remains unexplored
For as long as I can remember my father would take me out on his sailboat. No matter how much my Mom would object to the idea my father always prevailed and had me out on the boat with him practically every evening. It was the most peaceful way to spend my days after school as I grew older. I would sit on the deck completing my mundane homework as the blood orange sun set miles off in the westward coast. I will miss those evenings spent with my father, but after what happened, nothing can get me back into the ocean for all the money in the world.
What happened went against everything I had been taught in school and even by my own Father, the master of the seas in my eyes. My father had taught me to respect the ocean and all of its inhabitants. So, if we ever chose to fish out on his boat we would only catch enough to eat for the day, and would always respect the governing laws. Needless to say we were both advocates to end the whaling epidemic that was occurring in the Pacific Ocean. Whales are a crucial aspect to the oceans ecosystem and without them many species would go extinct as a result. I remember when my father brought me up close to a pack of blue whales one day during their great migration. He lent me his scuba gear and I felt an extreme rush as I entered the cool blue water. Their elegant calls could be heard thousands of feet away, like a siren in the night. I was mesmerized by the blue whales as they came into my sight. The three calves swam in front of what I assumed to be the mother. The calves passed by me first with speed I did not expect. Then the mother, calmly swam below me. It seemed as if she was completely conscious of my presence in the water and although she could have swam right through, she chose to move out of her way. Hell, people in the streets of Los Angeles aren’t even that graceful. People will run into me countless times without even a slight glance up from their cell phones. I resurfaced from the water after witnessing the more graceful mammal and shared my adoration with my Dad.
Over the next few years my love for not only the whales but the ocean in general grew immensely. My dad and I would happily sacrifice our Saturdays for beach clean-up days, and even occasionally attend the nearest anti-whaling protest in the area. Even when school got more time consuming as I entered into high school, my father and I would still find time to go out every Sunday evening and watch the sunset on his boat. The bonding spent is something I don’t regret, however, I do wish we could have gotten involved in a different hobby.
It was a typical Sunday evening, the sun had just reached the horizon, and God had painted the 6 O’clock sky with a variety of orange and red pastels. I finished up writing down a few answers to my math assignment in my notebook when my father called me over. His fishing line was tight and his pole was nearly bent in a complete u-shape.
“Give me a hand will you boy. Grab onto my waist.” He said. I eagerly closed my notebook and ran behind his body, and placed my hands onto his hips.
“You think you can pull this up without throwing out your back?” I said. He breathed heavily as his hands pulled him forward causing his back to arch.
“That’s what I got you here for jackass.” He said back to me. This was the tongue and cheek way we had recently started talking to each other once I had entered into the manhood that was high school.
“I see it coming up, that’s a huge catch Dad, let me get the knife!” as I let go of his hips he shuffled forward a few steps before catching his balance. I eagerly opened the tackle box and grabbed out the first knife I could find to cut the line.
“Oh Jesus Christ!” He exclaimed. He reluctantly turned inward to show me what he had caught. His hook was in the center of a Dolphins blow hole. A chunk of flesh about the size of my own chest surrounded the hook. I dropped the knife in horror.
“You think a shark did that?” I questioned rhetorically. We both knew that sharks aren’t fast enough to catch dolphins and the bite marks weren’t jagged like it would be from a sharks bite. Instead the flesh was cut off by pure blunt force.
“This has to be the work of some poachers.” My father said with a disappointed tone. “Get my camera, let’s take pictures for evidence.” He continued. I walked around the fallen knife and returned to the tackle box. I opened the top and grabbed his waterproof camera.
“Why would they cut the blow hole off though? That doesn’t make sense.” I said as the camera flashed a picture of the decaying meat. The putrid stench polluted the air as my Dad ran his hands through his hair in bewilderment. “Maybe I should dive down quick and see if there’s anything else?”
“It’s getting dark and that water is likely chummed up. Which means that sharks will be in the area.” He objected to my notion, however did not stop me from strapping the scuba gear to my back. I assumed he did want me to go look down there, but felt as if he had to be a responsible parent.
“Well if it was poachers it means they most likely kept a majority of the meat and probably left on a load motor boat. That would scare off any shark, especially for such little meat.” I said to him and walked closer to the edge of the boat, half expecting him to try and stop me.
“That’s a good point, just make sure to be quick and don’t tell your mom about this” he said. I fell back from the side of the boat and went into the cold water. The little light from the sunlight could barely penetrate a few feet below the ocean surface and I was soon surrounded in darkness. It was early quiet as bubbles flowed to the surface from my respirator. I span in a circle to look for any reminisce of that dolphin but could not see anything through the black water. I decided to take a picture to use the flash as a light. The camera went off lighting up the water for a moment. I was still alone. Then, the siren call I heard years ago returned from behind me. I span around and flashed the camera again. This time I saw the side of a grey shark. I began to swim up quickly, attempting to not make too much noise as I heard the whale call out again. The call was significantly louder, indicating to me that the whale was coming up fast.
I entered the sparse light as I reached near the surface. I glanced down in horror to see the shark swimming up towards me. I kicked up like a helpless seal knowing that I would not be able to escape the apex predator when suddenly an extreme force of water pushed me to the side. I looked back down to see a blue whale carrying the great white off into the depths of the ocean. Blood flowed from the whale’s mouth and up to the surface as it descended into darkness. I resurfaced and saw my dad leaning over the boat screaming in a panic.
“Son, get the hell out of the water! There’s a shark in there!” He shouted out. I swam to the side of the boat and grabbed onto the ladder that hang down. He pulled me over the side and hugged me tighter than a bear climbing a tree for honey.
“I’m fine Dad” I chuckled out.
“Jesus I saw that shark fin then blood starting coming up to the surface. I got so worried, what the hell happened.” He cried out while letting me out of his grasp.
“Well that shark you saw was headed right for me, but then it was eaten by a whale.” I said while taking the oxygen tank off my back.
“Are you sure? Whales don’t eat sharks.” He stood back allowing me to take off the remaining gear I had. Then his face turned a ghostly white. Within a matter of seconds I smelled the putrid odor of fish guts as bits and pieces of shark skin and blood rained down from the sky. I turned in horror to see the whale at the surface excreting parts of chopped up shark from its bloodied blow hole. “We got to get the fuck out of here.” My father said.
I stood in fear as my dad kicked on the engine to the sailboat so we could get out quickly. Unfortunately the motor wasn’t fast enough. The wale breached from the water and crashed down onto our sailboat. Half of its body in the water, and the other half laying on the deck of our small boat. The front end of our now immensely small boat shot into the air as I held onto the mast. I saw my father fall backwards down onto the whale’s bloodied teeth. My dad laid between the whales tooth and lip. His body hanging out as the whale’s tongue left its mouth, tasting my Dad’s flesh. I looked up in a panic and saw the tackle box sliding down toward me. In a moment I grabbed onto the tackle box and pulled out the small revolver my dad had. I had never fired a gun before, but had seen my dad do it a few times for practice. I thought he was crazy for keeping a gun on board to protect against “pirates” but I was glad he did. I pulled the hammer back and aimed it at the whale as it began to curl its tongue around my dad. I saw the oxygen tank had slid down conveniently to rest right by the whale’s red pupil eye. I gripped the gun so hard I thought the handle would turn to dust in my palms. I aimed carefully at the yellow tank and pulled the trigger. The tank exploded ripping off large chunks of the whales face, but not before it took a bite out of my Dad’s legs. He flew away from the whale’s stained red tongue and the beast retreated back into the ocean allowing our boat to return back to the surface.
The boat was critically damaged, needless to say, but luckily my Dad made it out alive. The whale took his legs, and the blast has left his face permanently scarred, but he thanks me every day for my bravery. Over the past few months I have tried to figure out what this whale was. I’ve written to marine biologists at my local college who either ignore my emails or think I’m an immature kid in the search of cheap thrills. Regardless if anyone believes me or not, I know what I saw. I also know that over 95% of the ocean has yet to be discovered which means there must be more creatures like this lurking in the depths, waiting to be found.