Interesting Whale Lore

Some Ancient Whale Mythology

During June of each year Southern Right Whales (Eubaena australis), and Humpback whales begin to prominently arrive in Southern Australian waters after a lengthy migration from Antarctica. Whereas their stay in Antarctica is primarily concerned with feeding on krill and copepods, their preoccupation in the waters of Australia is breeding. Pregnant females are usually the first to arrive, giving birth soon after. Other adults and juveniles also gradually arrive singly or in groups, and eventually begin some of the most spectacular displays of courtship and mating behaviour that is possible to witness.
To the Australian Aboriginals, whose traditional homelands encompass the coastal regions of the Australian continent, the powerful and boisterous whale is a beloved ancestor, shaper of the landscape, and immortal being of that timeless, instructive and never-ending epoch of creation and earthly transformation widely known as the Dreamtime or Dreaming. To the coastal tribes the whale is the all powerful Rainbow Serpent and is closely associated with the Rainbow Serpent/Snake of the inland. The whale is, as is the serpent elsewhere in the world, associated with fire, earth energy, wind, water, the sun, moon and the symbol that links all of these elements - the rainbow.
In most coastal tribal stories the whale, after arriving from his ancestral home in the Milky Way, causes the seas to rise, brings other creatures with him, and travels into a sea cave home moving inland to emerge via blowholes, caves and waterholes into the sunlight of the inland. To the 'People of the whale', blowholes, caves and waterholes were sacred because they were the aperture through which the whale ancestor made his first appearance on earth. These places were also sacred because the whale's presence continues to animate them, to pulsate from them in ways that challenge the human imagination and that permeate the natural world.
During the course of the whales land sculpting journey on and under the earth's Dreamtime surface, the whale left in its wake a sacred, eternal living essence. Rock formations, (both natural and man-made), trees, waterholes, and other features that dot the local terrain, mark these ancestral Dreamtime passages, record the dramas, and entomb many of its principal characters, as if in sleep. At the same time, these sacred places are centres of natures reproductive powers.
The whales story is a reflection of the whale 'totem' peoples Dreamtime origins, religious duties, and of the primal, cyclic, life-perpetuating processes of the natural world. On at least one level the Whale embodies the essence of nature's life force and fertility, in particular the fertility of the waters. Consequently the items used to harvest the produce of the sea; spears, nets, baskets, and stone fish traps, are associated with and are sacred aspects of the whale mythology.
The whale clans knowledge that the local terrain is a sacred map of the whale's ancestral journey gives them an extraordinary sense of participation in the workings of local ecosystems. The initiated members of the clans could communicate directly through ritual and 'prayer', with the forces of nature. Radiating out from the sacred whale dreaming places along the Dreamtime trails of the ancestral whale are indelible geographic points, where the aboriginals understanding of the Creation Time connection between the land and nature's mysterious regenerative powers allows them to work in harmony with the forces of fertility at these locations.
During the whales treks across the landscape, he left a trail of words and musical notes as well as indelible physical footprints, permanently etching the whales story in the earth. Generations later, by devoutly singing the appropriate sacred song, a totemic clansman could reliably navigate for days along these great Dreamtime tracks. In the process, the land would be rejuvenated, memories of totemic ancestors would be rekindled, and reunions with faraway kinsmen would take place along the ancient Dreamtime trails of stone, story and song. In one sense the whole of Australia could be read as a musical score of songlines. The songlines could, in a sense, be visualized as a serpent, writhing this way and that, in which every 'episode' was readable in terms of geology and natural phenomena.
Beyond lending a sense of spirituality and cosmic order within the aboriginal world, these ancient beliefs convey genuine ecological insights into the working of nature. Stories of the Dreamtime travels of the whale reveal a sophisticated grasp of whale ecology. Maps of the whales journeys, breathing life and form into the landscape as he went, correspond with uncanny precision to maps of the preferred habitats of the whale that have recently been painstakingly assembled by detailed aerial and ground based scientific study.
Traditional aboriginal beliefs about the sacred sites of the Whale Dreaming represent a remarkable fusion of ecological and spiritual knowledge. They encode genuine ecological truths about the population dynamics and location data, with sacred places corresponding to prime whale breeding habitat and with places where whales 'like to linger' the Mirning tribes names for the Southern Right Whale, Numbadda, means "to hang around wanting something", reflecting this species tendency to favour particular locations to . In fact, one of mate, give birth and rear calves or just linger close to shore. At the same time, unlike sterile scientific findings, they contain a moral code mandating irrevocable human responsibility to honour and nurture the precious, life-sustaining whale populations and nature in general.
The following stories exemplify the special place these sacred whales had in aboriginal culture. Some of the stories have only recently been documented and have never appeared in print prior to this publication. Variations of these whale stories are to be found all around Australia, with the following versions being made available by the Mirning and Ngarrindjeri tribal councils for publication.

Sacred Ecology
Whales, Mosquitoes and a 
Flowing Crystal River
, Tom Pinkson, Ph.D.
Sacred Ecology - from Killarney pubs to California's ocean

It started outside a rollicking pub in , Ireland. It was about one in the morning and I stopped to listen to some wonderful Irish music as I made my way back to my hotel from a presentation I'd made at the International Transpersonal Psychology Conference. While the official proceedings had ended for the night, the unofficial ones were just beginning to open up. Several fellow early revelers stood on the sidewalk enjoying the scene and talking with one another. I connected with one man in particular, a fellow Californian (Dr. Urmas Kaldveer), and we exchanged business cards, then went on our way.
Six months later I was surprised to hear from him when he called me on the phone and asked me if I would be a guest teacher for Pelagikos, a program he directed that involved tracking blue whales using their eighty-four foot sailboat equipped for research purposes. I would spend one week with the crew and young students sailing off the Channel Islands near Santa Barbara. My job was to "bring spirituality into the scientific enterprise" and to use shamanic ways to help connect with the spirit of the whales. Excitedly I said "yes", and then turned to face my propensity for seasickness.
I ruined every one of the deep sea fishing trips my Dad Ray had taken me on as a kid. I'd even start to lose it scuba diving when I'd spend too much time bobbing around in surface swells. I could even get sick on a surf board! But I was determined, and with the help of ginger pills, wrist bands over acupuncture points and a scopolamine patch from a friend in Switzerland, I set out for my week at sea with hope it would all work and with excitement for the adventure in a new wilderness that was out of my comfort zone.
The first night out we anchored off one of the Channel Islands and I was doing pretty good. My sea legs were getting established and I was beginning to enjoy the pitch and roll of the T'ai Chi dance of waves, wind and bobbing boat. That night the crew and students gathered on deck under ample moonlight for our first ceremonial work. I asked the members of our party to think about a gift they would like to bring to the whales. "Most people take when they come to sea with little thought of giving something back. I get that our task here is to give something back, even if we don't see any whales." I emphasized.
Then I picked up my drum, purified it with the smoke of burning sage and offered the cleansing smoke around the circle to the others. While it was going around, I began a soft beat on the drum and began to pray. "Thank you Great Mother Ocean. Thank you for the gifts of your wisdom being. I pray for your health and the health of all the swimming people. Help us to open to your Medicine teachings, and help us to see what it is we can do to protect and honor you".

The following morning I did another drum journey, this time carrying the spirit of the gifts down into the sea. The beat of the drum carried me to a cave in the depths of the ocean. Inside the cave was a counsel of Whale Elders. They were in a circle surrounding a fire and seemed to be expecting me. I introduced myself and offered a piece of wood to feed Grandpa Fire. One Elder purified me with sacred smoke and motioned me to speak. I told them I had come bringing thankfulness prayers for their being as well as prayers for their health and protection, especially for their children and old people. Also that I came with gifts from others. One by one I introduced each member of our party who came up and shared their gift.
When all the gifts had been shared, I asked the Elders to consider sending us some messengers on the next day when we went out to a channel between the islands where the biologist on our crew thought there was a good chance we would find whales. "I do not know if it is for our greatest good, or for yours'," I said, " that we come into contact with you tomorrow. If it is not, I accept that, and will still continue to pray for your lives and give thanks for your wisdom teachings, for you are some of the oldest people on the planet and you know the history going way back to the earliest times. We open to whatever your counsel feels is best for us all".
The next day we sailed off with hopeful anticipation. The biologist sat high up in an observation chair with her trusty binoculars. The boat, Dariabar, sailed smoothly through the sea. We were in open waters now, the only land was far away. Suddenly an excited cry came from above; "Spouts three hundred yards off the starboard bow!" "They're humpbacks" she yelled with glee. The skipper turned the boat in the direction of the spouts and off we went. Through my own binoculars I could make out the contours of these huge masses undulating through the waves, then disappearing into the depths only to appear again in five or six minutes somewhere else.
I was thrilled. I'd seen gray whales migrating up and down the California coastline before but that was always when I had been on shore watching them from a land base. Now I was in their home, in their terrain, and it was an entirely different experience. The ocean was alive and breathing, constantly changing in mood and cycles of wind, wave, color and sound. The whales knew what was happening and danced with it in graceful T'ai chi like movements that were millions of years old. It was a bit frustrating though, because each time we approached them, they would disappear into the depths and reappear further and further away.
Two Blue Whale People Surface
Then it happened. Something the biologist who had been tracking whales for years said was not unheard of but was very "unusual". Something that stunned us all, then sent shivers running up and down our spines amidst bursts of gleeful shouts of excitement, joy and amazement. Two blue whales, longer than our eighty-four foot boat, surfaced just ten feet away and began to slowly circle the boat! Speechless in awe, I watched these magnificent beings who are the largest animal that we know of to have ever lived on Mother Earth, or Mother Ocean I should say, do laps around our vessel checking us out. "Unbelievable" was all I could mumble as I and the others ran around the boat following the whales, taking pictures, taking in the immensity of their being and that they are intelligent creatures who I felt had been sent by the Elders Counsel from the drum journey.
Four times they circled. Close enough to spit on! But instead of spit, or harpoons, I sent them my love and thanked them for coming to us. I opened myself to their means of communication and let my body-being take in what ever they had to send. I felt communion with them and that they were showing me a more graceful way of being than my culturally conditioned push-force-work hard to make things happen mode of being. I felt the ancientness of their way and that they were messengers:
You have to learn a new way of living, you two-leggeds. You have to relearn how to respect the Sea of Being which is the ocean we all swim in. We are all connected. We are all related. We are all equally loved by the Creator of this Great Universe. You have forgotten and live your lives as if you were the most important of God's creations. But as you can see here, you are not. We must all learn to work cooperatively, together, for the good of all or soon great changes will come that will reduce your arrogance back into a respectful humility which is required for all of us to live together in harmony and happiness. Remember us, your swimming relatives, and help us to care for our home which is really your home as well.
Then they left. They swam off away from the boat and while we saw them and enjoyed sailing with them throughout the rest of our time at sea, never again did they come that close. No, their message was delivered, and then they went on their way. As I write this now, I'm back on land, but I still feel connected to the Counsel Fire of Whale Spirit Elders and their special gift to us. I feel a telepathic line of communication has been opened and their presence is as close as my breath.

WHEN THE ROCKS CRY OUT!": a poem by a good friend

"And the earth was without form and void:
and darkness was upon the face of the deep...
<>And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

Once upon before when;
when before was as impossible as after,
there, within a nothing of unstirred dark soup,
lacking pretext, sequence, or flavor to order reason…
there, where even proto potential lay dormant;
there, some how, and some where,
some speck, spark, or sliver,
some bump, bang, or bruise, (whether minute or gigantic)
and totally devoid of parameters ordained or accidental;
some whatever began to organize and gather meaning
by parsing distance, swallowing volume, and
winding the tick of time.

Possibly there was a reason we can’t measure;
possibly specific maybes weigh more than general nothings;
possibly the then too much of everywhere gravity gathered
into an increasingly crowded crap-shoot potential  and
tripped a heave, a pull and a suck
which awakened  space-time traffic jams..

Whatever it was that was, began to drain to centers within maybes
until,  in some unreferenced sequence,
the enormity of nothingness rushed, drained, and centered
into one infinitesimal but limitless undimensioned sink…

and…..   everything exploded!

This ripped the shroud of becoming by flinging
fireballs and pinwheels of un-calibrated fiery energy…
and dark matter became light!
Which is when and where a what became a there.

There!  At that time.  At that place.  In whatever and wherever "there" was,
birthing energy coagulated into clinging clumps of self.
Mass built, stuff to stuff and gunk to gunk.
Beat patterns of accidental harmony congealed into curds of existence,
adjusted equations of mass over distribution, unfolded in dervish spins,
and stirred spiral whirlpools of bits, eclipses, maelstroms,  and eddies
into games of multi-bank celestial billiards
on an infinite un-dimensioned felt.

With mass and weight as the only metronome,
the shimmering stew became galaxies.
Wandering planetoids marked time waiting
invitations into pirouettes  and celestial promenades
of broiling, sparkling, incandescent light shows and chaos .
After time without meaning or measure,  the side show skirts pulled in,
matter congealed, heat dissipated,  and shrank.

Elements and compounds form, particulates cleave to each other,
and dress according to the nesting of their atoms,;
they shape themselves, mate, and marry into complex families and clans.
with valence as the crest of their crystalline heredity.
The drops and blobs of matter grow old and round;
condensing gases seep into cracks, hiss through fissures, cool, solidify.

The cooling backwash cracks, ripples, folds, and freezes
into coagulating mass.
These nail clippings, these clumps and clots from the groomings of time;
these stars, planets, moons, asteroids,  and comets  join
in compound family relations and affinities..  one to several.. 
or one to one.. or many to multitudes. and all this
in ordered orbital promenades. 

Even time itself grows old; eons come and go, and covers rumple.
Layer upon layer of long pressed sediment sags;
beds shake and wiggle from accumulations and insulation.
Weight turns in seismic slumber and the frame breaks.
Metamorphic blankets and sheets of stardust solidify.
The growing weight creates heat and pressure until
igneous fountains spout life's gases from geologic ulcers.
Lava relieves itself; hot magma candy melts the smorgasbord.
Rinds crack and strata rupture as rigid igneous spines
and slivers of petrified time puncture crustal skin
stand abrupt, crack, collapse, leave gaps, trap space in caverns
and leave channels for rivers of mineral bounty.

History of process is written in metallic calligraphy
with inks of Gold and Mercury and Iron and Bismuth
and all the other metals. The elements
push into cracks, sleep in caverns,  pour into canyons
and pressure pack oozing particulates into geodes, vugs and seams.
Then, baked in seething scald and pressures from miles deep earth mantle,
these soups plate on igneous remnants  and
record chemical metaphors and valences  on siliceous tablets.

Diamonds are born in upwelling vents rising from the molten heart.
Quartz crystals adorn hidden tombs.
Soft Calcite and splintered Serpentine mate in buried heated pressure;
flow together; and together, spawn Jade
tougher, heavier, and harder than either parent.

Wild from super heated caress, sleeping strata wake, seethe,
throw geyser spouts into air, and
poisonous bubbling springs color caldera edges with
the sediment of their chemical heritage.

Gas condenses, Oceans form and their breath rises, cools,  and falls
in varied stews of rain which begin to etch the land.
Water percolates into fractured cracks and drinks its bed.

The Plains crack, fold, stand abrupt, and wear away…
over and over and over again.
Vast continents float, collide, mate, divorce, drown, and dry;
multicolored agate sleeps in layers and tells frozen time
with stratified clocks.
Elemental history melts, burns, drowns in hissing liquid fire, and congeals
into the calligraphy of creation.

It has lain waiting our cryptography,  …for eons.

Drip by drip by drip water builds the stalactites, and stalagmites;
festoons geode chambers,  and plates the pillared halls with carbonates.
Crystalline columns of Selenite grow for millennia
in dark, closed, and roasting caverns.
The percolating water soaks through rock, licks hidden metals
bleeds mineral blood, weeps sulfur and iron, becomes hot sulfuric acid,
erodes, eats stone, consumes slick carbonaceous slabs
and forms hot toxic underground lakes…

which have never, ever,  seen sunshine.


But in Montana, in our lifetime, when cutting a mountain road
one of these primordial incubators was opened by accident.
Its toxic acidic lake was filled with life: spaghetti like strands  of bacteria
were drinking acid and eating stone,  were thriving and abundant and… 


They have done so, in darkness, for untold incalculable eons.
This Life!
entombed by chance and opened by chance;
this simple Life
in genesis and endurance may be the oldest living thing on earth…



Now… the other animals, the ones
       that cover the earth, mold metal and wear nature's jewels;
       that assume eternity and deify their own ignorance;
       that hold unproven dreams dearer than reason,  flesh,  or blood;
       that end each other's lives over words:
       that believe a cosmos bloomed in seven days;

those animals!!!

They may have a far different Eden than they confess…
Genesis, in any sense of beginning,
may have been in some hot dark cavern drinking life from the drip of acid:
waiting, the destiny of the spinning nebulae…
waiting, the dance and whirl from soil to planet to stars…
waiting, the boot strap from bacteria to intelligence…
waiting the final evolution, and the simple surgical slice of bulldozer steel.

The Man said that, "rocks would cry out";       we should listen!
They do not sing the praise of heaven, or truth, or men.
They sing in valenced attractions and dance in elemental groups.
They sing equations of chemistry and compounds and amalgamation.
They sing structure, and radiation, and crystalline mathematics.
They sing cantatas of the periodic table and they whirl in galactic ballet.

The stages may change;
the audience will change;  
but the Aria and the Ballet remain…

When the rocks cry out… the Opera is Evolution.

© Jim Lyle 2003… rev July 06

Humpback Whale Genitalia

The caudal peduncle is relatively thin with ‘knuckles’ visible on the dorsal surface. These are the caudal vertebrae, which become more visible when the animal looses weight. On the ventral side of the caudal peduncle is a protrusion or ventral keel known as the carina. The carina is found on all whales and whilst its function is obscure, it may aid stability in the water.

Anterior to the carina is the anal slit followed by the genital opening and mammary slits in females, which are located on either side of the genital opening. This is identified in females as a ‘hemispheric lobe’. In males, the distance between the genital opening and the anus is almost 2.5 times longer than is seen in females. The genital opening in males is more anterior than the female. Around the midline is the umbilicus.

Shamanic Warning
A Yupik shaman’s council warning has stated that our World is now in even more danger than in 1908 as humanity has failed to learn the lessons of over a century of war, which these Arctic peoples say is evidenced by the Blue Whale ‘Guardians of our Earth’ now singing the “Song of Death” as an ‘announcement’ to all human beings to prepare for the ending of all things.

The Blue Whales ‘Song of Death’ the Yupik shamans are referring to is presently baffling Western Scientists who are reporting that these largest animals our World has ever known have indeed begun to change their ‘songs’, all over our Planet for the first time in recorded history, and in what John Calombokidis, a blue whale expert at the Cascadia Research Collective, notes is a “fascinating finding”.

Complexity of the Whale Brain

Animal computers come in all sizes. An ant brain is a hundreth-gram speck; the 8 kilogram brain of a sperm whale is 100,000 times bigger. Our large human brain, with its infinite ideas, is only one sixth the size of a sperm whale brain. It is even slightly smaller than the average Neanderthal brain. On the other hand recently discovered mini-humans on Flores island had brains one third our size, and may have been no dumber. The correlation between the absolute scale of the brain and smartness is weak.
This is particularly true if you examine the most brainy varieties of animals. For instance, the smartest animals on land, sea and air (outside of humans) are great apes on land, whales and dolphins in the sea, and parrots and crows in the air. A parrot brain is one thousandth the size of a whale’s. But if you were to test an African grey parrot, a chimpanzee and a bottlenose dolphin behind a suitable screen so that you could not see which animal was taking the test, you would not be able to determine the animal by its intelligence alone. According to Lori Marino, a neuroscientist specializing in large animal brains, the problem solving IQ of parrots, chimps and whales are nearly equivalent, even though the size of their brains vary by a thousand times.
A bigger computer is not necessarily smarter. And even when intelligence is demonstrably greater it is only weakly correlated to how many brain cells are present. It is not clear that a whale is 100,000 times smarter than an ant (ants can do much your PC can’t), or that humans are only three times as smart as chimpanzees, as pure numbers of cells might suggest. What is roughly correlated, is the size of an animal’s body and its brain. The greater number of cells in a large animal requires more brain cells to coordinate their metabolism, temperature, and movements, and thus larger bodies have larger brains, on average. While we may think of bigger brains as inherently more intelligent, most of the big brain mass in big animals is a housekeeping tax just to keep the bigger body going.
The ratio between brain size increase and body weight increase is about 2/3. For every increase of 1 unit in the mass of the animal body there is a .67 increase in brain size. For reasons no one is sure of, this ratio holds constant throughout the animal kingdom, past and present, dinosaurs included. It is a misconception that dinosaurs had walnut-sized brains. Some brains of large dinos were relatively small (about the size of your fist) but some, like those in the Stenonychosaurus, the Veloceraptor, and the Troodon had a brain cavity the size of a human. On average dinosaurs also adhere to the standard brain/body increase ratio, known technically as the encephalization quotient, or EQ.
Animals whose bodies and brains follow this ratio exactly are said to have an EQ of 1. Most animals, large and small, fall close to this expected ratio. It is the deviations from this golden ratio that interest us. While the average dinosaur had a brain proportionally equal to a mammal, the Sauropod was among the least brainy animal that ever lived, since it had a brain that was only one hundred thousandth of its body mass. For every pound of brain, it had 100,000 pounds of flesh. It survived in this minimally cerebral way for 100 million year. (Humans have yet to reach the 1 million mark.)
Modern humans have an EQ greater than 1. In fact our brains are 7 to 8 times larger than the expected ratio for mammals. A warthog and human share identical body weights yet the human brain is 11 times bigger than the warthog’s. And humanoids don’t even top the list for extreme encephalization. A shrew brain is so tiny (3 grams) it is hardly visible, yet shrews hold nearly 10% of their mass in their brain, making it one of the most encephalized animals.
Size is only one dimension that varies. Composition varies as well. In humans, the prime location for problem solving computation is the extremely convoluted outer surface of our brains. This degree of convolution is rare. But big whale brains are covered with a convoluted neocortical surface area (3745 cm2) that is substantially larger than the 2275 cm2 of the human brain. However the crinkly gray membrane of the whale is, on average, half the thickness of the human neocortex. Still, that’s a lot of neuron power.

That leaves the problem of what all that extra brain tissue is doing in whales and elephants. What alien thoughts are those additional 7 kilos of brain processing? We can ask a parallel question about what happens as we manufacture big and bigger computers. Will adding 100 times as much processing power generate anything more than ordinary computation that is 100 times faster, if that? Will bigger computers just be whale brains?
Whale brains are stuffed with more white matter than most other mammals. The cost of gigantic brains is that the infrastructure for computing over larger distances begins to overtake the increased benefits. In order to reach more neurons, more cabling needs to be wired in. It needs to be insulated with appropriate tissue. This is the brain’s white tissue – a kind of non-computing supporting hardware. As brains grow, plain physics demands that the support grow faster than the parts doing the desired tasks. This pattern is already visible in desktop computers; the actual calculating chips are tiny fingernail-sized slivers buried among the white matter of wires, power transformers, and circuit boards, all which outweigh the chip by thousands.
Taxonomically, as brains get larger they get more complex. They develop internal regions, specialized tissues, and intermediate organs to bridge the discontinuities created by local specialization. A typical whale brain has less bulk devoted to olfactory functions than most animals (fewer smells in deep water), and far more devoted to auditory functions. Some of the extra brain matter found in a whale is thus used for its extreme sonar echolocation abilities. But the best guess for what the whale uses its big brain for is socializing. Social complexity breeds brain complexity (or vice versa), including increased encephalization. Not just in whales, dolphins and land animals such as the elephant, but in most animal classes. Birds that are more social have higher EQs; insects that are social, such as bees and ants also have larger relative sized brains.
Second, it is not what you have, but how you arrange it.

an increase in sociability correlates to larger brain
 Viewed on an evolutionary scale, there is an ancient and noticeable trend in life toward larger brains - not just in primates, but in dinosaurs, whales, and all animals. Over millions of years, the most encephalitic animals alive get progressively larger brained relative to their body mass; that is, over time the maximum encephalization has been steadily increasing.
Not all brains evolve bigger, however. One careful study of fossilized toothed-whales (dolphins, porpoises, belugas and narwhals) showed that the next species of whale was just as likely to be smaller brained as larger brained. In toothed-whales there was no general trend in evolution toward big brains. Except! Except during a few transition periods and in certain specific branches of taxonomy. Dolphins, for instance (and humanoids in the past) display an ongoing trend for greater encephalization. Some dinosaur lines show the same, while most dinosaur lines, like most animal branches on the tree of life, do not. Brain expansion, like most progress, takes place along a narrow band of “early adopters.”
Dale Russell, a dinosaur researcher, extrapolated the trajectory of maximum brain size over the last 600 million years into the next 1 million years and concluded that if biological trends continued without interference that the maximum EQ would increase by three. Humanoids our size would walk around with swollen heads and three times the brains, or whales with three times the brains would swim in the deep seas.
Much more likely is this prospect: biological evolution hands off the task of creating larger brains per body to the technium. Maximum encephalization will take place in computers, thinking machines, and the distributed network of silicon neurons around the planet. But what the whales teach us is that much of this brain material may not contribute to greater intelligence. A lot of our computer gear may only be white matter; a lot of the web may be whale brain.
Posted on November 19, 2004 at 9:21 PM | Comments (6)

Posted by Jesse M. on December 14, 2004 at 3:21 AM
Speaking of brain size per body mass… i believe it is measure of relative importance of brain and flesh. Evolution always tries to find optimal ratio. It is quite clear that relative brain importance is bigger when you have good “software” and organization in general, and when it is signigicant for survival (that is ,there’s use for it in environment). I believe that jumps in brain size happened when new “software” evolved. Some species finally evolved an organization that is quite efficient and scales for bigger brain sizes. It increases importance of brainmass, and in result you get species with big brain/body ratio, for example humans. Or dolphins (that jump in ratio). Then, it fixes at some equilibrilum(if there’s a time to reach it), until either a:environment or something else is changed (more use for brain, adaptation required), or b: new organization evolves. When environment is made of other animals showing same trend(ior same species), it sometimes becomes important to outsmart competitors, again resulting in brain size increase.
Current evidence refutes that. It is possible that nearly as much signal processing and computation goes on in white matter as in grey, albeit of a different - more preliminary- sort. It is quite possible that a human brain (and other mamalian brains) have many orders of magnitude more computing power than previosuly thought.
Another factor that is seldom mentioned: algorithmic power. The brain is not a general-purpose machine. It has software written into it by many millions of years of evolution, software with a level of sophistication and algorithmic subtlety that we can only begin to guess at the complexity involved. So while we will eventually make a machine with the raw computing power of the mamalian brain, it will not come from the factory with the many (trillions? trillions of trillions?) lines of code that evolution has written into firmware.
And such algorithms as those that actually produce intelligence- we have not even the earliest rudimentary ideas about how they might be written. All our brute-force attempts at general intelligence- the only kind that really matters- have ,none of them, succeeded. “AI” is more rightly termed Actual Ignorance rather than Artificial Intelligence. Yes, my spell-checker is now context-aware, and speech recognition kind of works. But I don’t think any of us would feel comfortable voting a copy of Word into elected office…..
Posted by Milosz on April 1, 2008 at 2:33 AM
There’s a good explanation of EQ and its application to mammals at
The 2/3 ratio you refer to appears to me to be a dimensional ratio in the following sense: our bodies are, of course, 3 dimensional. They have not only heighth, but also breadth and depth, so to speak. This means that if we maintain the same proportions in these three dimension as we grow up, then our body mass and volume will increase as the cube of the increase in heighth. In doubling our heighth our body weight or mass or volume will be doubled three times: 2 x 2 x 2 = 2^3 = 8. So, if we grow to a 6 ft. heighth and a weight of 200 lb., we can estimate that when we were 3 ft. high, assuming the same proportions of heighth to width and depth, and the same density, we would have weighed 200 lb./ 8 = 25 lb. That sounds a little low to me, so maybe a 3ft. tall child looks more like a 6 footer who weighs, say, 250 lb. The point is we can expect weight to increase roughly as the cube of height.
The 2/3 ratio indicates that brain weights do not increase as the cube of height, but as 2/3 x 3 = 2, i.e. as the square of height: brains are in some sense two dimensional, so that a 6 footer would only need a brain 2 x 2 = 4 times as large as the 3 footer he or she was as a child, even though he or she now weighs 8 times as much.

Scientists have long considered cetaceans, marine mammals including whales and dolphins, as highly intelligent creatures, with complex social behaviors, being surpassed only by humans and apes.

In a new study, scientists at the Department of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY, made a comparison between the brains of several cetacean species and found in the brain of some a certain type of neurons that is also found in apes and humans, revealing a convergent evolution caused maybe by the development of complex behaviors.

Cetacean biology is well investigated in many species but their brains are less studied, in order to correlate their anatomy to the extensive behavioral and social abilities.

Brain to body mass ratio, a rough measure of intelligence, is lower for the giant toothless whales compared to dolphins, but the structure and large brain size of baleen whales point to a complex and elaborate behavior.

Besides, this ratio measurement cannot be extended to large mammals, as, of course, neuronal tissue can not correlate to tons or tens of tons of body mass.

The researchers examined the brain of adult two baleen whale species (humpback whale_ Megaptera novaehollandiae and finback whale_ Baleanoptera physalus) and from several toothed whales: three bottlenose dolphins (Lagenorhynchus species), Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), killer whale (Orcinus orca) and several other cetacean species.

The humpback cerebral cortex, linked to active thinking in any mammal, was similarly complex to dolphins.

All cetaceans present a hugely enlarged area in the cortex linked to acoustic abilities, as these mammals use sound (but especially ultrasounds) to explore their environment and the new study encountered a complex organization in core and belt regions.

Instead, there was a substantial difference between the cortex neuronal structure in baleen whales and toothed whales. The way these differences go to distinct brain function and behavior are still not known.

A trait in baleen whale's cortical brain that really amazed the scientists was the modular organization of certain cells into "islands", something found in other types of mammals, but not in toothed cetaceans.

These structures may promote faster and more efficient communication between neurons.

Another shocking and notable trait was the presence of spindle cells in the humpback's cortex, something not encountered anywhere else but in ape's and human's brain.

The precise role of spindle neurons is not known, but they are suspected to be involved in cognitive processes and degenerate in debilitating brain diseases like Alzheimer's, autism and schizophrenia.

Spindle neurons were also discovered in the brain cortex of toothed whales with the largest brains, thus these neurons must be linked to brain size.

Spindle neurons might have appeared in the ape-human lineage about 15 million years ago, since they are present in all great apes and humans, but are absent in lesser apes and other primates; cetaceans might have achieved them earlier, about 30 million years ago.

Maybe the ancestral cetaceans carried the genes, but only large brained cetaceans retained them.

Or, more plausible, this trait evolved at least twice independently in the two cetacean groups; this process may partially have occurred more recently.

Anyway, this is an extremely rare case of parallel evolution, both inside the Cetacea Order and between cetaceans and primates.

"In spite of the relative scarcity of information on many cetacean species, it is important to note in this context that sperm whales, killer whales, and certainly humpback whales, exhibit complex social patterns that included intricate communication skills, coalition-formation, cooperation, cultural transmission and tool usage," concluded the researchers.

"It is thus likely that some of these abilities are related to comparable histologic complexity in brain organization in cetaceans and in hominids."

"Cetacean and primate brains may be considered as evolutionary alternatives in neurobiological complexity and as such, it would be compelling to investigate how many convergent cognitive and behavioral features result from largely dissimilar neocortical organization between the two orders."

This study opens an unsearched and full of surprises field on investigating cetacean brain and behavior, which, due to their habitat and hunting by human, are naturally elusive, poorly documented and often endangered.

Cetacean Adaptability
"The large brains of cetaceans have raised many additional intriguing questions. One may well ask if such a large brain may not be capable of not only a natural language but of possibly even adaptively learning a human language. Experiments in the Communication Research Institute along these lines have revealed the following findings:
"1) These animals are capable of phonation of proper dolphin noises in air as well as under water.
"2) If in contact close enough and long enough with persons who are speaking, these animals gradually modify the noises they emit and gradually acquire new noises which begin to resemble the noises of human speech.
"3) Slowly but surely some of these emissions begin to correspond to distinct, human sounds, recognizable words are separated out.
"4) Modifications and variations of these words are produced in great profusion.
"Such flexibility and plasticity of the use of the phonation apparatus of these animals demonstrates an adaptive capability heretofore completely unsuspected. In a sense, these animals who are producing humanoid sounds have adapted ts a totally new set of circumstances; i.e., close contact with man, in such a way as to excite interest on our part and to prompt further care of the animals. In a sense, then, the animals are taking full advantage of this artificial environment for their own survival and well-being in a fashion similar to most of the successful individuals of the species, Homo sapiens."

ODE TO A MOM – Nov. 26, 2011

I found myself just yesterday driving an unimaginably lonely stretch of road, through swampland and wetland extending as far as the eye can see in all directions.  The American West with all it’s spectacular beauty could never produce such a landscape.  No, this was the east in as much coastal glory as it can muster up, a primeval scene with no inkling of human intervention as far as my eyes could see.

We pulled into a tiny and lost marina in a place called Lola, and boarded a National Park Service boat and quite literally zoomed across the wet land out into an open bay and across to a very long and very narrow slice of land called the North Core Banks.  Look for it on a good map, it is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore administered by the US National Park Service and part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

 In any case we landed.  We packed our gear onto two National Park vehicles both superbly prepared to travel along the seemingly endless stretch of beaches.  Again we zoomed across the sand and paralleling the crashing waves and headed north for 8 miles.  “Don’t go slower than 40 miles an hour” they told us or you’ll be risking getting stuck in the sand.  We passed 2 people and one barnacled carcass of a Loggerhead Sea Turtle.  Then the 6 of us headed up by the North Carolina Marine Mammal Strandings Coordinator, Dr.Vicky Thayer found our quarry, a Bottlenose Dolphin lying on it’s side just where the incoming surf lapped up against it’s tired body.

In 20 years of spending much of my life with whales and dolphins I had never seen one up on the beach ALIVE.  That was about to change.  I jumped from the truck and onto the sand and walked over to her with my camera in hand as the photographer of the makeshift team.  A loud exhalation filled my senses and before I could recover and fully grasp the situation and far too soon another one.  Her blowhole opened fully and she breathed and she moved her battered tail.  She also moved her rostrum slightly and it was as clear as if on a human, that she was suffering.  Her beauty was almost overwhelming, that short beak, the permanent smile, that soft eye, and with lines that curved and met other lines, and the belly that was pink and white and gray, and with lovely spots of different sizes.  She was a painting come to life, a so clearly intelligent beauty even in this miserable state. 

The next few minutes reminded me of being in a hospital room.  She seemed as human as any animal that is non-human can be, her suffering as clear as any suffering can be, her nobleness as noble as any can be.  After about 15 minutes of this she writhed and she shuddered and her life came to a close.  She was an almost 9 foot long female, offshore Bottlenose Dolphin.  The team did their necropsy with Dr. Thayer in the lead.  No cause of death was immediately clear. Then at the end of the day in the last of the acts that were performed a discovery was made.  Although not in it’s early stages this lonely and lovely dolphin was lactating.  So she was not an old lady, and we hoped that her calf was old enough to fend for itself out there well beyond the breakers that were relentlessly crashing.

Then we boarded the sand vehicles and headed back across the timeless landscape and back eventually into our human civilization, having born witness to the end of an extraordinary life in a grand bit of wilderness on the North Core Banks.

There is much more that could be said about this.  For me it was a profound experience.  But it is enough for me to attach a few images of the dying female dolphin and let her beauty reach you all even if for just a few brief minutes.

Michael Fishbach

A Spiritual Perspective

We are the ancient of the ancients.  We are the Soul of the Souls.  We are your past and we are your Memories.  We are your present and we are here with you in the Now Time.  We are your link joined with you to create the future for the Healing and Ascension of Mother Gaia.  We are a Group Consciousness, stewarding this planet as an example of the Good of the Many. 
The whales are the molecular librarians of Earth’s evolution.  What we call the Akashic records lives in the oceans of planet Earth.  The information
is stored in the water molecules.  Since water is never destroyed, only recycled Earth’s entire history remains safe in our ocean archives.  The whales can access the information, circulate it and contribute to it, communicating by connecting to the intelligence in the water molecules.  They tell me that the information in the water will teach us that in the future the body fluid of the human will eventually be used to provide flawless individualized treatment for people’s health maladies. 
The whales would like to assist us in remembering who we truly are.  Knowing and honoring who we are is an important aspect of our personal growth toward love of self and our earth.  They tell us that it is important for the human to reach a point in our evolution where we truly become the seeker of ourselves.  It is important to reach for the knowledge that is held in the Akasha that tells us who we truly are, and where we are from and what we are made of and why we are here today. 
In our quest for this knowledge of self awareness we are identifying ourselves as beings who value Love above all else and we are confirming our belief in Love by changing our life styles accordingly.  We are coming to know our selves as vibrations of Love and in doing so are coming to remember our world and our beautiful Mother Gaia in a new light.
In our remembrance we are drawn to gather with like minded people and start to take back the conscious control of our environment. We are remembering that what we think and feel affects our environment and the others living around us.  Once we take control of our emotions and thoughts we see that we do truly create our own realities and that we do have control over our own environments and that we are not the victims. The whales call this intentional evolution.
And finally the last piece of remembrance of self is to recognize and develop our connection to the cosmos and to life beyond the third dimension.  We are not alone in the Universe and never have been.  There are billions of other life forms that are not visible from our 3D perspective.  We can connect with these other planetarians, who are our brothers and sisters of Light.  We can benefit from their wisdom and knowledge and join with them as we move through our fears back to the truth of who we are and why we are here.  The Dolphins & Whales are masters of cosmic travel and masters of multidimensionality.  They are here to teach us, assist us in healing our minds and bodies are they are here now inviting us to open our belief systems to multiple realities of Love.

Laurie J. Anderson 

                           THE LAS                   THE LAST WHALE

When the waves are down and  seas lie flat,
the humpbacked fossil stirs its sleep;
in grotto dark and ebb-tide mat,
this living sonar sounds the deep.
          An a cappella canticle,
          of endings and alone,
          a haunting ribbon melody
          that begs us to atone.

A song of sun and surface ride
(how easy love on waves was laid),
till ignorance and genocide
brought dread and fear of flensing blade:

Taught refuge in the quickened sea
and shadow-shrouded chasm walls,
till only in soliloquy
the last anachronism calls---

          In songs of searches in the deep
          (where lovers once had lain),
          a song of fathom fantasies,
          of love that might remain.

And dusty-rooted on the sand
I feel the contrapuntal flow,
that mammal mem'ry from the land,
I answer, "Yes, my friend, I know…"

         I know my relic heart can bleed
         in rhythm with your own,
         and keen for lust and love complete,
         …I too listen…   all alone.                      

                                  © Lyle  Jan 1994
                                     Rev Aug 2004