Monday, 8 April 2013

Setubal - Shaping the Whale

What do whales look like?

The talks about whale imaging through the ages from Saturday's workshop will eventually be published in a special ECS edition. So we cannot spoil this by saying too much here.

However, below  are a few pictures from a Victorian school book (published in 1851) and showing what kids at that time would have thought whales (and other animals) looked like.

Some images of whales and dolphins in the highly illustrated books of the time made them look quite demonic sand one typical mistake was that these monstrous animals would be blowing water out of their blow holes in mighty fountains. This is anatomically impossible for them to do and the 'blow' of whales is actually their hot breath condensing in the cold air.

By the early 1900s, illustrations of whales in the popular natural history books of the day had become much more accurate but, for hundreds of years, many people must have viewed them as spouting monsters. This may have made their treatment more acceptable to the public.[I will try to add one of these more demonic images here later.]

And, even in the 2006 Disney film, 'Finding Nemo', (which has apparently sold 40 million DVD copies), we still encounter a whale that spouts water from its blowhole when it expels the fishy heroes Dory and Marlin, which it has swallowed, through it and high into the air!

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