Pete: Sort of. I spent five minutes watching a segment about Humpback whale song. Humpback whales — as seen in Star Trek IV — were what first got me into marine biology, or made me realize that there was a field of study devoted to all those amazing things I used to see in the Carribbean. On a hunch, I sat down here and I typed “humpback whale” into Napster, and was thrilled to discover hours of humpback whale song that I can listen to. It’s fascinating. What’s weird is that it’s relaxing. Well, that’s not weird. What’s weird is that I can hear the depth, the endless ocean. And I can hear…I’m not sure. I wish you two could listen to some, through headphones. It evokes something very unsettling and nearly fearful. But not quite. I can’t describe it, but it’s amazing and I love it.
Lori: I have a CD of whalesong.
Pete: I don’t have any CDs of whale song. Until now, it never even occurred to me that you could buy it, although it makes perfect sense. This is the sort of thing I love Napster for. I can suddenly have something like this cross my mind, and then go find it. I’ve got five songs of various Humpback whale song set to play now, and each one is nearly 15 minutes long. That’s just terrific. I love this stuff. I can imagine lying on the couch, in the dark, with earphones on. If I were brave enough to bring earphones in the bath, or a swimming pool, that would be really terrific…
Lori: My first college roommate introduced me to it in the 90’s. I’ve never been able to find one that I love as much as the CD she had. Oh, the Chicago Aquarium has beluga whales. They’re amazing. They’ve even succeeded in breeding them.
Pete: I would *love* to go to the Chicago aquarium now…! The maddening thing is, I bet I’ve been to the Chicago aquarium, but I don’t remember. I would have been younger, and I would have not been as desperately interested in the ocean yet. We used to live in Milwaulkee and walk along Lake Michagan all the time. It’s my favorite of the lakes (even if it doesn’t have the sunken liners that Lake Huron and Superior have) I’m getting mindlessly giddy over this conversation. I am so lame. 🙂
Lori: You would love it, Pete. They have the dolphin and whale tanks set up so that as you gaze along the top surface, the horizon carries over to a view of Lake Michigan, so it’s not like you’re looking at a tank at all. Of course, I prefer going down to the lower levels, where you can sit and watch the whales and dolphins swimming underwater.
Pete: I am, and always have been, mentally terrified of whales and bigger sharks. Not because I think they mean me harm, or even have a particular interest in me, but there’s something about the size. The unutturable hugeness of them, it sparks off fear in my mind. I don’t know that fear is the right word. I remember when I saw Orcas at SeaWorld, they set off a sheer panicked terror in me (though I didn’t move, and I was fascinated by them anyway) because of the hugeness. It’s always puzzled me. I remember I used to get panicked and rush out of the deep end of the pools, sometimes, because I would look into the darkness and my mind would imagine a massive, massive whale swimming toward me and I’d spook. Very odd. I’ve always wanted to do a whale-swim, and wonder if it would actually happen in real life, or if it would turn out to be mostly in my head. Short of the Orcas at Seaworld (where we went on our honeymoon), I’ve never seen a whale, or heard whale song. And now I think about it,I don’t know nearly that much about whales. Deep sea and coral reef-life, but not whales. Hmmm. Neat. Something to research.
Kristine: Oh, some day you must swim with them! I’ve never done that myself either, but being around them just thrills me. Sharkes scare the pee out of me, but we don’t have many of those here since it’s too cold. But whales – even in the aquariums I can stare at all the whales for hours and hours. We have two Beluga whales at one of the zoos here, and they’re so amazing – they’ll look you right in the eye and just LOOK at you. And they’re something else – they can send out a sonic blast that stuns their prey so they just swim right up and swallow it. Narwhales are cool, too 😀 When I was a kid, we’d take the boat up to the San Juan islands for camping – staying on the boat and the islands for a week at a time. And once – – just this one time – – we heard whales in the middle of the night. Everyone on the island got up and just stood there, in the pitch black, and listened without saying a word. It was haunting, and beautiful. Mostly we get Orca in here, but if you time it right, the humpbacks are passing by, heading to or from Alaska.
Pete: I don’t care how corny it was, I loved SeaQuest DSV, for the sheer deep sea aspect of it. Even if it was wildly inaccurate a lot of the time. If there was a deep sea colony, I would go in a heartbeat. To live? I don’t know. But to visit, absolutely. (was it with you two that I explained my idea for making a deep-sea colony entirely out of ice?)
Kristine: I always have lamented the fact that there are no more Frontiers. Our ancestors got the opportunity to leave everything they’d ever known, and move to brave new worlds. Start colonize where humans had never been. I knew deep down the space program would never get there in my lifetime, but I used to hold out hope the sea would. There’s nowhere left for us to go, to be pioneers, except in the sea. I wanted to be one of the first people to pack up my life, move to a building under the sea, and be one of the first colonists to pave the way in that brave, new world.
Pete: Yeah! I bugs me, sometimes, how little emphasis and attention is put into the space program. But what bugs me more is that we’d rather shoot big missiles at each other than build things that can explore the deep sea. There are still places on the map that say here, there be dragons, and they are deep down. I mean, if the whole entire world nuclear’d itself to death, they would never know, deep down. And in ten thousand years, if we rebuilt, it would be a blink of an eye in those prehistoric, slow depths. I remember something else — unrelated — about time which says that time moves faster the higher you go, slower the deeper you go. So at the bottom of the ocean, in the deepest trenches, maybe there’s somewhere that time stands till. It’s a fun story idea. Myabe somewhere down there, it’s still an hour after God finished creating the world, if you see what I mean.
Kristine: I haven’t heard about a deep sea colony made of ice. I would definitely go down there to live, then just visit the dry land people, like for Christmas or something. I was SO angry at life for not leaving me a frontier to colonize. I still get frustrated about that !
Lori: Life’s not over yet, Kristine. You could ways move to Alaska. <eg>
Kristine: But Alaska’s already been “colonized” ! I tell you, though, if summers keep getting hotter, I’m SO moving up there! That’s why it bugs me so much that we seem to know more about the surface of Mars than we do our own seas.
Pete: Certainly, we don’t know where the Sperm whales breed. Not really. Although if I remember, it’s under arctic ice floes. But they go so deep. We never know. They come up battle scarred from battles with epic and colossal squid, but we have never properly seen THOSE either. Humpbacks we know quite a bit more about, although we still can’t figure out their songs. Not really.
Pete: Right. Ice colony. In World War II — and this is absolutely true — scientists and the military were working on a way to make a submarine entirely made out of ice. It was a proposal that was approved, and it would have gone into production as master-of-factly as fighter planes, except that the war done gone and ended before they could do anything. So my theory is, make an undersea colony — on the bottom of the ocean — entirely out of ice. You could freeze and then hollow out rooms. Need a new room? Freeze more water, make another room! Tunnels would be powerfully strong (but brittle, so brittle). The whole place could be heated and granted, that would slowly melt the ice, but that’s where the speculative fiction stuff comes into it. I think about what stories I’d write, in the ice colony on the bottom of the ocean. I sometimes think that it’s very much a Jules Verne, Captain Nemo place to live, and I wonder how that would come into the story. I think about it every now and then. (I can’t find the original story on the ice submarine) And of course, you could make the colony raise or lower, just by changing the thickness of the ice, and thus, the weight.
Lori: One of these days, I’m going to visit a ice hotel or restaurant.
Kristine: I would love that !
Pete: *spontaneously goes to bed, but vows to return in the morning*