Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, than by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a favourite marine mammal, the whale.
In the seventy third episode of The Simpsons, Brother from the Same Planet (Season 04, Episode 14), Homer forgets to pick up Bart after soccer practice, so Bart decides to go to ‘Big Brother’ as retribution.
The ‘Big Brother’ agency teams Bart up with an F-14 fighter jet pilot named Tom. Tom takes Bart on a lot of adventures, including hang gliding, going to a baseball game, working out, and watching ‘Ren & Stimpy’.
Jealous of Bart’s new relationship, Homer goes to the ‘Big Brother’ agency too and is paired up with a young boy named Pepi (who he occasionally calls Pepsi).
When it’s time for the annual ‘Big Brother’ trip to Marine World, both Homer with Pepi and Bart with Tom are there. They in fact sit a few rows apart at the whale show.
Tom to Bart: “You know, the whale is not really a fish. They’re mammals, like you and me.”
Pepi to Homer: “Is that true?”
Homer to Pepi: “No.”
After the whale show, Homer and Tom engage in a brawl that ultimately ends with Tom becoming Pepi’s big brother, as Bart returns home with his injured father.
But have you ever wondered what a whale is?
As Tom mentioned to Bart, whales are not really fish. They are mammals. Whales evolved from land-living mammals 40 million years ago, and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamus.
Whales roam throughout all of the world’s oceans, communicating with complex and mysterious sounds. Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. A thick layer of fat called blubber insulates them from cold ocean waters.
Whales are fully aquatic, open ocean mammals, that feed, mate, give birth, suckle and raise their young at sea. Whales range in size from the 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) and 135 kilograms (298 lb) dwarf sperm whale to the 29.9 metres (98 ft) and 190 metric tons (210 short tons) blue whale, which is the largest known creature.
Aside from the dwarf sperm whale and blue whale, other species of whales include the beluga whale, North Atlantic right whale, gray whale, bowhead whale, fin whale, sei whale, and narwhal to name a few.
According to the World Wildlife Federation, whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Whales play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere; each great whale sequesters an estimated 33 tons of CO2 on average, thus playing their part in the fight against climate change.
Unfortunately, their large size and mythical aura does not protect them; six out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. An estimated minimum of 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year as a result of fisheries bycatch, while others succumb to a myriad of threats including shipping and habitat loss.
The World Wildlife Federation continues, despite a moratorium on commercial whaling and a ban on international trade of whale products, three countries—Iceland, Japan, and Norway—continue their commercial whale hunts. Over 1,000 whales a year are killed for such commercial purposes. The blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have existed, was almost exterminated in the 20th century due to commercial whaling.
The United States and other International Whaling Commission (IWC) member countries have tried for years to persuade Iceland, Japan, and Norway to end their whaling as it undermines the effectiveness of the commission’s commercial whaling ban. However, in 2019, Japan chose to walk away from the IWC and now conducts commercial whaling in its own territorial waters, outside of any international controls.
Now that we’ve learned more about whales, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? What’s your favourite family feuding episode of The Simpsons? What about your favourite Simpsons animal reference? Were you familiar with Big Brothers? Were you familiar with whales? What’s your favourite whale? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.