I have this theory about whale behavior. There are always stories about whales getting beached and oftentimes even dying on land. After taking an animal behavior class I thought deeply about this for some reason. I came to the conclusion that whales beach themselves because they are adventurous. They are intelligent creatures capable of rational thought (at least I believe so).
**ASIDE: Animal behaviorists will argue this, and I understand them completely if you want to look at it from a completely scientific perspective. Scientists will say nothing is true of this animal behavior until we can actually hear the animal say in a language we can decipher: “I am doing this action because of this.” We are only able to prove what we can observe and test. Does this dog eat this dog food more than that dog food? Yes. That doesn’t mean that the dog “likes” the dog food more. It just means that the dog will choose the scent, taste, or whatever, over the other dog food. Then we need to test the scent, taste etc… But animal behaviorists will not say the dog “likes” this dog food because that is a human thought. ASIDE OVER**
With this argument of whether animals are capable of “thinking” like humans aside, let’s get back to my story.
Picture yourself as a huge majestic kind of the sea whale. You and your friends are swimming through the sea, leaping, and jumping through the air. One of them spots the shore. What is going on over there? “Follow me, let’s get closer guys.” Okay the whale doesn’t actually say it, but let’s say he’s the leader and the other whales just follow. Or he’s not even the leader but the other whales decide to go with the one that “knows something.”
You swim closer to the shore, you begin seeing little buildings along the coast. You see objects floating above the water. You decide to get even closer.
You see objects moving. You aren’t young though. You’ve explored the ocean for hundreds and hundreds of miles. You’ve been free your whole life. You don’t worry about sharks attacking you because you swim faster than them, and your friends help protect you. You’re bored of the sea. Now you need to go on a final adventure.
You decide to go closer and closer to shore. As humans we can just basically find a way to explore anything we want. We can build a space suit, or a diving suit. Whales obviously don’t have these abilities, except for ones who are captured and brought on land to perform for us.
The whales are fascinated. This is a world they never thought to explore. What happens when we go over there? Are these aliens? Can we eat them? Can they play? My great great grandfather went, and I never saw him again….
This is the thought process I believe whales go through before they become beached. Not quite that human, but something possibly more primitive, but still brought about by curiosity. The desire to explore and find out what’s out there that’s greater than yourself.
If they’re old they’re probably just tired of swimming and just want “one last hurrah” regardless of the circumstances. It’s better than feeding those shark jerks. Or maybe they’re young, dumb, and in love. Who knows. People have been searching for the “unexplainable” reason that whales become beached. I think this could be one of them.
Again, if you’re an animal behaviorist, I know this is is probably an obnoxious post. I am admitting right now, I have no facts, statistics or data. I only imagined myself as an intelligent mammal that has been shown in many scientific observations to have almost human-like thought processes, that is adventurous, who has been swimming around in a deep dark ocean for my whole life. Maybe what I’m saying isn’t so far fetched?