I OFTEN watch documentaries either at the Discovery Channel or at the National Geographic Channel. Most of the documentaries I watch are about nature. Floods, hurricanes, typhoons and other disasters.
(I have no idea why I am so attracted to those pleasant things!) And yet my favourite documentaries are about animals. That is why I like Animal Planet also.
I am fascinated by the lives of animals. I watch cheetahs, sharks, elephants, lions, birds, snakes (even if I am so afraid of them.) and many many more animals. There is something fascinating about animals. (Did you know that 80,000 bees can live in one hive? Or that an ostrich can run as fast as a racehorse? Or that the jellyfish is 95 percent water?) You get the point.
And so one night several nights ago I propped myself on the television set and started looking for a documentary that had something to do with animals. I was in luck because as I switched channels I saw some whales.
It was at the National Geographic channel where I watched a show called Predator CSI. The episode dealt with a coordinated attack of Orca killer whales on two whales. A mother and her three year old calf. (Orcas are not really whales but dolphins. They are called killer whales because they kill whales.)
In that episode some people were on a tour of the waters and the bay. The boat was full perhaps because it was Mother’s Day, ironically. So as the tourists were taking in the sights, they spotted white water about a mile away. Not knowing what it was, the ship came closer.
As they approached the white water they discovered that reason for the white water. It was the thrashing of the waters that caused it. Some sea creatures where thrashing about. At first the people thought it would be the playful dolphins that they were searching. But there was something else. It was something else.
To the horror of those tourists what they saw was an attack of a school of killer whales. They were attacking and killing a huge grey female humpback and its three month calf.
Now compared to the huge grey female, the orcas were a lot smaller but this did not stop the orcas. What they lacked in size they made up in numbers. It was such a terrifying sight as the killer whales repeatedly hurled their bodies against the mother and the helpless calf.
They were having a difficult time with the mother because of her size. They threw themselves again and again against the huge body of the mother. It was difficult but they were relentless. But in the case of the baby calf it was different.
Because it was not as big as its mother the orcas were heaving and lunging their bodies with relative ease. The orcas where in fact trying to drown the baby whale. They hurled themselves against the frail body of the calf. They nudged and then thrashed themselves. Some of the orcas heaved themselves over the body of the helpless calf in an attempt to drown it.
When the mother whale saw what was happening she deliberately placed herself between the attacking orcas and her baby. She tried to draw attention to her, she was actually sacrificing herself so that her baby calf would survive the onslaught. Desperately beyond despair she tried to save her child. She tried everything to divert the attention of the killer whales. The mother was ready to give up everything to save her child.
We are talking about an animal here, a mammal. An animal whose mental capacities are perhaps lower than that of humans and yet what drew her, what made her go between her child and danger was not intelligence, or what she learned.
Instinctively she knew what was to be done. She was there to protect her young, her child from the dangers that were threatening it. The mother whale knew what to do. It was her being a mother that made her go between the orcas and her child. That was not taught, nor will it ever be. There is no MOTHER SCHOOL for WHALES.
It was actually disturbing and painful watching the footage. There is a certain morbid fascination as one watches nature does what it does. No one could blame the orcas for that were what they were.
And yet when one focuses on what the mother whale’s sacrifice one could not help but be awed by the instinct of the mother. Without thinking and with total disregard for her own safety, she put herself in danger.
Perhaps that mother knew that she was going to die but it was not a reason for her to hesitate. Someone one said that life is not about choices but decisions. And that mother decided to give up her life for her child. Without thinking, she did because she knew what it was to be a mother.
So what is the point of all this?
One of the most interesting things I have ever heard in my life was the comment of someone who said, pag pasensya mo na, she does not know how it is to be a mother. That is one of the looniest things I have ever heard of. She does not know how it is to be a mother??
That is so incredulous, so mind boggling, so unbelievable really. When I heard that I did not know how to react to it. In the first place one does not learn how to become a mother, one is not even taught how to be a mother. In truth either you are a mother or you are not. Motherhood is not about biology or even common sense. It is natural. That is why it is called mother’s instinct. It is about motherhood plain and simple. Perhaps the person who said that should take a swim and look for whales. That person might learn a lesson or two.