Air Date: Week of August 24, 2012
Two Beluga whales swim underwater. (Photo: MarkSethLender.com ©)
In nature, life and death sometimes go hand in hand. So discovered writer and photographer Mark Seth Lender as he witnessed polar bears devouring a Beluga whale that washed ashore in Hudson Bay, Canada one summer day.
CURWOOD: Nature can be disquieting at times. That was the case when writer Mark Seth Lender visited Hudson Bay in Canada. There, whales sometimes strand themselves. But as Mark sees it, in nature, life and death are inseparable.
LENDER: Beluga Whale fetches up on the point, rides in the slosh of the riptide where the beach stones clash, Slip slide... slip slide... and the wind groans.
Gray Ghost of a White Whale, he was. Had he lived he would have turned white as a snow bear though now he never will. Gray is the only color he will ever know; gray as a cloud when the light goes.
Perhaps he tangled and drowned pulled down by net or anchor line. Perhaps he was trapped in the shallows on a sandbar and the day did the life out of him, burnt offering to the sun. Or maybe he swallowed something that harmed him. For there are no wounds. Not a mark. No violence defiled him. The mystery dies inside him.
And the tide rolls out; and the wind subsides; and the end of the end arrives.
From the Bay, from tundra from the leeward side of the shore, polar bears come. They come to pay their respects; whale once flesh now meat and brine. And a hollow place where the light of the eyes once shined. It is all the same to him now, who takes charge and who takes care of him.
CURWOOD: Mark Seth Lender is the author of Salt Marsh Diary - A Year on the Connecticut Coast. To hear a short interview with Mark about his experience and see some photos, go to our website LOE dot org.
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