A whale tale
The term anthropomorphism didn’t enter into my vocabulary until my junior year of college when I took a course in primate behavior, an anthro-major requirement. As a total dog person (from a long-ish line of total dog people), the idea that animals might not actually be expressing the emotions that we ascribe to them really threw me for a loop, and for the past few years, I’ve tried to keep my musings about the true meaning behind Charlotte’s “smiles” (and soulful sighs and totally perfect on-your-hip head rests whenever one of us is under the weather and snoozing on the couch) to a minimum.
However, I found myself reassessing yesterday afternoon after watching this video (find it here: http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2011/aug/01/whale-saying-thank-you/and trust me– it’s worth watching the entire 8 minutes, but if you’re short on time, make sure you catch the last 2). I’d like to believe that the whale’s display is, as one of the women on board says, “a thank you dance” of sorts, if only because it affirms my belief that all of us– furred and finned alike–are inherently good and loving and thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given and the help we’ve received. In the name of full disclosure, I have to admit that my whale knowledge is pretty limited. Still, I can’t help but wonder how this could be interpreted as anything other than a show of intense gratitude and joy and sheer appreciation for a(nother) shot at life– and no (human or non-human) achievement, in my humble opinion, deserves a massive tail slap more than that :).