Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Whale of a time - but no Ryan Giggs

My first reaction upon being asked if I wanted to go and see Wales was, "I'm sure Giggsy retired a long time ago, so, no thanks".  Yes, they are doing a mighty fine job in the Euro qualifiers, thanks to that fella playing at Real Madrid, but still, no thanks.  Once it was pointed out to me that there is life outside football (really?!?), I realised it was in fact whales that were on offer.  Specifically humpback whales. The uber whales.  

Of course, I am using “uber” in the sense it was meant, before Uber meant tech start up taxi company! Just whilst I am on that, have you used it yet?  Uber.  My introduction was via a friend, and thus a free (actually $25 credit) ride.  Once he had shown me the app, and how to use it, I was off.  Literally.  Not even the effects of several large beers was enough to discombobulate me as I navigated through the options.  Within minutes, I was watching my uberX (the uber cheap option) slowly move towards me on my iPhone screen, like a little video game.  

After a short wait, my driver, Zain, in his little Honda Civic, turned up.  He was a very pleasant chap, if somewhat over chatty.  I avoided all Peter Kay impersonations, purposely not asking him if "he had been on long", had been busy.  Once Zain realised I had no taste for talking, we got along mighty fine.  Riding from the CBD, over the hulking Harbour Bridge, to the Lower North Shore, minus my promotional credit, I was left with a tab of just over $4, which is debited from the payment method you indicate when you set up your account.  Easy peasy.  And the (next) best thing?  As a new user, I get another $25 credit if I get a friend to use the service.  Cue me tweeting and emailing the link out to as many people as possible.

For me, the service is a winner.  Opening up the somewhat monopolistic taxi market.  I read that around the world, "real" taxi drivers are up in arms about the whole thing.  Even burning donkeys in Paris.  Or was it car tyres?  I'm never sure with the impassioned Parisians.  Isn't healthy competition what drives an economic market?  The "invisible hand" of economic theory described by Adam Smith in 1776?

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, whales...

Specifically humpback whales.  Which Wikipedia reliably(?) inform me are called (Megaptera novaeangliae).  I see that this entry was recently edited so could be any name.  It is all latin to me.  It could actually be the name for a brontosaurus.  Or should that be the old name for brontosaurus?  I recently discovered that they never really existed.  It turns out that some museum curator put the wrong skull on the wrong skeleton, and lo and behold brontosaurus was born.  Only when the mistake was discovered did the brontosaurus become extinct for the second time.  You learn something new every day.

Well, humpback whales.  With the adults reaching up to 52ft in length, and possible of weighing unto 36,000 kilograms they are surprisingly majestic in the water.  With their distinctive body shape, and very large tail, they are acrobatic animals known for breaching and slapping the water with its tail, which is believed to be one of the ways they communicate.  Just try and catch the tail flip in a photo.  I did see a few tail flips, even if I am unable to show evidence.  Promise.  I have witnesses.

We are very lucky in Sydney in that each year we can witness their migration north from Antarctic.  With the whales swimming inland just outside the heads of Sydney Harbour, our afternoon cruise from the city, once we got on the right bloody boat!, took us out through the Harbour, into the open sea.  From here we sailed alongside the whales up past Manly, and north to Palm Beach as they frolicked their way north, up to the Great Barrier Reef, where they mate and eat.  Hoping to gain more than 10kgs each day from birth, this allows them to survive in the sub zero water temperatures they encounter once they migrate back down south with their calves to feed on the crill under the ice in the Antarctic.

Calves stay with mum for about 10 months, then they are on their own in big wide world, or the ocean.  Males stay even less time, their main aim in life being to mate with as many females as possible, and just keep moving on.  If there is a reason to believe in Buddhism, this has to be it.  With reincarnation being one of the tenets of Buddhism, I’m coming back as a whale.

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