The Beginning

On the foggy shores of the White Sea, an artist stands before a blank, rocky canvas. A deep line cuts through the rock, the scar of some ancient trauma. In the mind’s eye of the artist, the crack transforms into a cold blue horizon. Memories of countless days spent on the water resurface, and one image emerges clearly above the rest – the bulbous white head of a beluga whale, bobbing above the water to check for predators. Inspired, the artist takes up a tool and begins to carve…

karelian petroglyph

Karelian petroglyph, c. 4000 BC

In the six thousand years since an unknown artist carved this petroglyph – the oldest known image of a whale in the world – humans haven’t stopped being captivated by cetaceans. From the coastal villages of Japan to the banks of the Amazon River, from the frigid waters of Iceland to the tropical islands of the Pacific, from the busy ports of Greece to the remote Canadian tundra, stories follow whales wherever they swim. Many stories of cetaceans throughout the ages ascribe to them supernatural powers – they can be gods or their messengers, altruistic spirits or alluring shapeshifters. They are at the same time bafflingly alien and compellingly familiar, and the mutual curiosity between our highly intelligent species has stimulated generations upon generations of artists and storytellers.

By writing this blog, I hope to research the many stories of dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals from around the world, and to share them with you here. I hope that you enjoy diving into this fascinating world with me and exploring the rich cultural heritage born out of our interaction with the mysterious and majestic mammals of the deep.

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