TEXAS MEMORIAL MUSEUM
I felt like I was flying. But I wasn’t. Everything was underwater. The university was nice enough to flood the museum and it’s surroundings in a tank for a couple hours, just so I could swim about it. Although, I did sense that they were doing me this grand favor out of guilt. I could be wrong, but they kept giving me sympathetic smiles.
Anyway, the massive cement block of a structure reminded me of other cement structures I’ve seen around the world during my migrations. The humans tend to use these structures as symbols for power. At least, that’s what I’ve heard from interacting with other pods during my pod’s migration. However, I was very curious about the metal creature. He would not move, and it took me a while to figure out he was never alive to begin with. The thought itself sent shivers down my spine.
The inside of the structure was leveled, much how the ocean is in some parts. I swam about the labyrinth, taking in all I could from the experience.
I ended up in the lower part of the structure, and I was surprised to see the skeletal remains of other creatures. However, I was completely in awe when I came across a creature that looked like me. Different, but similar. The creature had small legs near the tail, but other than that, we were almost the same. I knew this was probably my ancestor, in some form. Why would the humans do this? It is known that we whales share a similar social hierarchy with the humans. But we would never dare do this to another creature, much less an ancestor. I began to feel worried, and not having my pod with me made me feel a little more aware of my unprotected state.
I swam away from the skeletal remains, feeling uneasy. I decided to travel upwards, until I ended up on a different floor; but this floor only made me feel even more anxious. The creatures here felt alive. They differed greatly from the metallic beast that was outside. That beast was never alive, but these creatures did seem alive at some point. Otters are common in coastal areas. We rarely ate them, respecting them for their social hierarchies and predatory nature. When I was lost and without my pod, I recall having some words accompany me:
“[The otters’] and our ancestors came out of the water, and the otters went back. The return wasn’t complete, this makes them more accessible to me…” (Being a Beast, 4).
These words helped me, and is a personal reminder for why I am attached to the otters. Seeing these respected predators in this state, it made me question the humans’ morality. Even after the humans helped me find my pod, I still felt intimidated by these exhibits.
I shook my thoughts away and swam up. It was beginning to dawn on me why the humans who prepared this tank for me looked at me sympathetically. It was shame. Or was it something else? I arrived at a set of wordy panels. Going into the back corner, I realized that these tailored to me.
The images. The words. Whales this, whales that. It felt unreal. The utter theory that I and man could have the same ancestor never crossed my mind. But looking at the small boxes with information about my dolphin and whale cousins, it didn’t seem right. Humans were writing about us as if they knew us, as if they knew the stories that each pod has passed down to its future generations. They were appropriating us, just because they thought we had a common link. But we are beyond different, and swimming around the museum has proven that to me. We are not only not physically similar, but emotionally as well. My whale cousins and I would never dare have each other exhibited the way the humans have all of us here. It’s disrespectful. The humans even have other panels dedicated to the land animals. They do not deserve this either. I do not know how I will get passed this, and I do not know how I will react the next time I see a human in the sea. Should I be scared? Mad?
I swim to the original level I was on, and I demanded to be taken back to the sea. I do not wish to be here anymore. The skeleton, the stuffed otters, and the “information” panels, I don’t think I could have taken that much longer. It was too much.
I couldn’t get away. I requested a tank around the famous Oxford museum. They say more of my kind are here as well. I must face the truth. The structure is similar to that of other monuments. Again, man establishes power by building structures revering themselves.
There are many skeletons here, but I recognized two immediately. This is a dolphin. I’ve hunted them before with my pod. I was doing my best to differentiate between hunting and the humans’ hunting. All I could think of was that my pod and I consume the whole dolphin. We do not let these creatures die in vain. They die to sustain us. That is an honor itself. The humans do not have honor, they kill for exhibition and power. By having these displays up, they are establishing themselves as an apex predator.
However, it hurt even more to see the blue whale on display. This whale is the most reverend of us all. It often travels alone, singing the saddest of songs. All of us whales bow down to this creature. Us killer whales know we have the power to take down whales larger than ourselves, we have done so previously. However, even though we probably could, we never dare go against a blue whale. I wish humans abided by the same virtue. Just because they can kill, it does not mean they should. Do they have no respect?