19 March 2019
Photo by Casey Cartwright
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines breath as 1: the act or power of breathing 2 : a slight breeze 3 : inflated or exhaled in breathing 4 : spoken sound 5: SPIRIT
I was lying flat on my stomach on the back of the boat. The sun was hot on my skin and the wind blew my hair, hitting my face. I kept pulling strands of it out of my eyes and tried to get comfortable. Finally, I lie resting as the boat glided across Banderas Bay. Once again, we were on a day sail with friends and had just finished lunch. Our chatter had quieted down as we were full and, along with the lull of the boat, felt sleepy. Just then, a whale breached at the back of the boat.
“Whoa!” came from those who witnessed it. And just as I heard their cry, I felt her breath ripple across the back of my blouse and a few sprinkles on my arms. I sprung up and ran to the stern rail. “No! No! I missed her!”
“No, you didn’t.” Cynthia said. “Look. There on the water, the slick on the water.”
I did see the glass slick and underneath it, a shadow of her large form. She breached two more times as we watched her slowly move away. One more time and then she dove down, leaving her tail for last as if to wave goodbye.
“I felt her breath!” I said, excitedly. I was moved, literally touched by her spirit. At least that is what I felt.
These massive yet gentle creatures are dying. We are killing the whales. It is the sad truth. Whales communicate, and sometimes navigate, by their songs. It is highly suspected that our noise pollution – caused by sonar, drilling and commercial shipping – is confusing them, often leading them astray. Beached whales are found to have pounds of plastic in their stomachs. Plastic. The bane of our existence.
Take a look around you. It is not just the plastic bags in the store, or water bottles, or the straws we put in our soda glass. Plastic is everywhere. It holds our shampoos, our liquid soaps, our toothpaste. We have plastic bowls, plastic utensils, plastic glasses, plastic Tupperware. We have plastic wrapping up our plastic containers. I always thought I was doing a good deed by cutting up the plastic that holds our six-packs. Now, as I cut it up, I think to myself, the fish won’t get caught in this, they will just ingest it. It is not only whales but our dolphins and fish who are being killed by pollution. Oh. And then there is the human population who eats the fish who has eaten the plastic. It’s a sad state of affairs. I suppose the best we can do is to become educated and try to be mindful of our footprint on this planet.
For I, for one, love the whales, the dolphins, our wildlife. I never get tired of seeing dolphins approach our boat. Every whale sighting has become something of a spiritual visitation for me. Especially this time. I felt her breath. Her SPIRIT.
The whales are a peaceful species who deserve the right to have their home in the ocean as much as we deserve the right to have our home on land. Please think of that the next time you pick up a piece of plastic.