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RE: Whale.

The Sunday Times - Britain

The Sunday Times January 22, 2006

Global reaction: World wallows in giant’s plight
Daniel Foggo

THE plight of the stranded whale was flashed around the world yesterday as millions took a keen interest in the desperate attempt to rescue it. The incongruity of a behemoth cruising through the heart of a great city gripped television viewers and stretched newspaper headline writers to the limit.
“Whale of a good show in London�, reported the Los Angeles Times. “New Prince of Whales — thar she blows!� countered the New York Post. Even The New York Times soberly offered: “Mysterious visitor creates new ripples on Thames�.

Unable to resist impressing New Yorkers with its ability to put the whale incident into the context of London’s 2,000 years of colourful history, The New York Times went on: “Of course, London’s great stream is no stranger to the bizarre and fascinating. There have been bodies hung from bridges, seals and porpoises in the water and even a piranha that fell from the sky when a seagull dropped it onto a boat.�

La Vanguardia, the Spanish daily, ran the headline “A whale visits Big Ben� next to a large picture of the animal’s fin cruising past parliament. Other Spanish newspapers used the photograph with similar prominence.

In France a television announcer conceded, with more than a tinge of envy in his voice, that such an impressive marine mammal had never, sadly, been sighted in the Seine.

In Australia, Victoria’s Sunday Herald Sun warned “Whale of a time may end in tears�, presciently foreshadowing yesterday’s unsuccessful rescue.

Susan Blackmore, an expert in the psychology of ideas, explained why the London whale had become an international phenomenon. “There is a very deep affinity between humans and whales because they are one of the very few animals that can imitate,� she said. “They copy each other, which results in the amazing songs they sing underwater, but that ability is very rare in the animal world and we are drawn to it.�

Naomi Rose, who tried to rehabilitate Keiko, a captive killer whale that starred in the Free Willy films, said whales hold an enduring fascination because they are “intelligent and social yet inhabit a world where we are utterly out of our element�.

Among the whaling nations coverage of the London visitor was conspicuous by its absence. The animal’s struggle to regain the safety of open water left Japan and Norway cold.

Kyodo, Japan’s domestic news service, failed to give the whale’s exertions even a mention. In Norway, where whales are also regarded foremost as a source of income, there was no interest in the British obsession with rescuing the lost mammal.

Instead the Aftensposten newspaper concentrated on the travails of Rune Gjeldnes, the Antarctic explorer, who yesterday found that he had lost one of his skis.

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