Forget Shark Week. Michael Fishbach, the hero of the video you’re about to watch (and of the humpback whale Valentina’s life), just gave Discovery Channel one more reason to start the next ocean-based craze Whale Week.
I walked past my landlord/neighbor Saturday morning after one of my brisk walks with Agnes, and instead of running the other way like I would have in so many of my previous living arrangements, I stopped to wish her a weekend hello. I told her Agnes and I had gone all the way to the dog park only to find the sprinklers on. Agnes loves the dog park and she pulls me toward it each morning, but she HATES sprinklers. She’ll stop dead in her tracks or yank me in the opposite direction at the slightest whiff of wet grass.
“Did you see the whale video? Did you see the whale video?” She asked.
“No, what whale video?”
Judy and I both share a love of animals of all shapes and sizes. She owns three dogs, at least three cats (though a new one seems to appear on the fence once a week) and she adores Agnes. She got the biggest delight when I told her I volunteered at the California Wildlife Center. She and her partner had once rescued a hummingbird who was transported to CWC.
While Agnes popped her paws up on the fence to say hello to Judy’s enormous collie Jasper (he makes Lassie seem like a Corgi), Judy began, “You have to get home and Google it. I just saw it on TV. A huge whale was caught in this net and these people on a small boat set it free and it jumps in front of their boat at least 40 times saying thank you!”
I could sense her excitement because as she was telling me her voice kept getting faster and faster and higher and higher.
“Wow, wow, wow. OK, OK. It sounds amazing! I love it!” I said.
Agnes and I headed into the apartment and after some cleaning up I just collapsed on the floor with my head on a pillow and Agnes’ head on my shoulder. I started watching “The White Ribbon” and about an hour into this dark and disturbing German flick, Judy appeared like a crazed lunatic at my screen door shouting, “Turn it on! It’s on channel 7! Local news! Turn it on!”
I was half-asleep, half-entranced in the movie I was watching, and I’d never been so terrified in my life, but I managed to find the remotes and switch from AV mode to TV mode. A calm group of English-speaking people were watching a whale breach in the distance. But it didn’t happen once, or twice. The whale kept jumping up in the air as if it were performing a finale at SeaWorld. Judy had told me it was a pilot whale, but this was no pilot whale. It was a beautiful humpback whale.
As it goes with network television, I only caught a glimpse of the event so I went online to find the rest of it. Take the 8:30 minutes to watch it. Really. It nearly brought me to tears. It restores my faith in humanity that we’re all not so bad. With a little help from each other we can make the world a better place. I know I sound like a Michael Jackson song, but I’m serious. If this doesn’t make you want to throw it all away to become a crew member on “Whale Wars,” or to just float in a boat as a marine biologist in the Sea of Cortez, I don’t know if we can be friends.