Ocean creatures are finding small ways to make us question our assumptions about them. We discovered earlier this week that dolphins recognize the whistles of other dolphins they shared a tank with 20 years earlier. That’s a better memory than most middle aged men I know, some of whom can’t remember who they met yesterday. And no, I can’t recall who I’m talking about, specifically.
But you can usually ignore dolphins and other water-dwellers if you stay on land – or so we thought until yesterday. Now it seems the beasts of the deep want to disrupt our daily routines, perhaps as a preview of how it will be once climate change causes the oceans to rise and flood low-lying areas like Manhattan.
Case in point: a story that got a lot of attention yesterday featured a dead shark discovered riding a New York Subway.
This idea of a straphanger Shark is bound to gain currency for a while. Look for cartoons and You Tube videos. Maybe there’s a movie in the works. Oh, wait, that was Sharknado!
Anyone wishing to capitalize on Subway Shark frenzy will have to take the next step by going both bigger and smaller a the same time. I suggest ripping off Dr.Seuss.
We were heading for home on the subway one day
We were too tired to speak. There was nothing to say
It was Sally and me at the back of a train
that smelled fishy and dank, but we didn’t complain.
The car clattered and rattled and squeaked on its track.
The lights flickered a bit. It got bright and then black.
And then darker than pitch. Clearly something was wrong.
While the squeaking we’d heard transformed into a song.
“What’s that noise?” Sally shouted. The deafening trill
became loud as a whistle and two times as shrill.
And then everything stopped – both the train and the sound!
When we got off the floor we both looked all around.
Peering deep in the tunnel – the source of the din –
we saw two giant eyeballs there, peering back in.
“Don’t be scared” said a voice. “I am harmless,” it joked.
“You’re too late,” I replied, for my trousers were soaked.
“I am sorry for that.” He was big. He was pale.
“You can just call me Moby. The Whale on the Rail.”
“He should not be down here,” stammered Sally, to me.
“Because whales belong down in the depths of the sea.”
“That is true,” said the whale. His breath stank of dead fish.
“But as long as I’m here, we can do what you wish.”
“There are games for commuters and whales we can play.”
“If you have a sharp knife and a sea bass to flay.”
“We do not have a knife,” I replied, in a peep.
“That is not a good game. You go back to the deep.”
But the Whale on the Rail only blinked at us twice.
Then he said, “Maybe some other game would be nice.”
“We could play ‘Where’s Your Blowhole?’ he said. “That is fun.”
“Not for us,” shot back Sally. “Because we don’t have one.”
“So you think,” said the whale. At his voice, the car shook.
“But you always find one in the last place you look.”
“The conductor is coming,” I said. “Swim away.”
But the Whale only smiled. “I would much rather play.”
We all know how this ends.
Add a few lines to “The Whale on the Rail.”