Check any mainstream book on the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the world and you’ll see these creatures depicted in tedious monochrome; as eternally decked out in blacks and greys.
It’s a stale, boring, bland view of these remarkable creatures, and as a young student, flicking through the cetological books in the library, I would often stare wistfully in the direction of the ocean, as if I just knew that something was wrong. And then... I remember the night... I was there in the library of the National Oceanography Centre, all alone, late at night, in the dark, when the idea hit me... there’s something very wrong with our cetaceans. I knew I was right. But little did I know how right I was. Even though I knew, deep inside, that I was right.
The Monochromatic Paradigm, as it’s known, has become the status quo in the mainstream cetological literature. But there’s just one problem.... it’s completely wrong. As described in Dorf Fringewhiner’s newly published paper, a recently invented device – unparalled in its novelty and complexity, created by an outstanding mind whose ability and qualifications well exceed those of any of the bland, mainstreamer cetologists – allows us, once and for all, to see cetaceans in their True colours (Fringewhiner 2015).
Fringewhiner’s device is termed the Chromatic Truthometer, and it works by manglomerating spectral eleutheroganglionic vocometers, interspicificating them via a Truthiophogenic GladFeelingness Filter before Truthiometrically puberficicating them onto a Phono-idiosyncratometric Massive Egonometer (Fringewhiner 2015). Apparently, Fringewhiner’s Chromatic Truthometer has been churning out results for years, but this is the first time that any resulting conclusion has been regarded as anything other than vile, odious crap.
Oh, for incidental reasons I should note how an editorial article accompanying Fringewhiner’s paper explains how both the several peer-reviewers and the journal’s editorial team were completely unable to understand a single piece of Fringewhiner’s argument, or read all the way to the end of his work without either vomiting or feeling the urge to do something more important, like laundry, or scratching. “It all reads like the scribblings of a dangerous madman; if there is a point, it’s lost on me thanks to the hateful ranting and inane idiosyncrasy”, said handling editor I. M. Impartial. One reviewer is quoted as saying “It’s a fun idea, but clearly a steaming pile that fails basic intellectual tests”. And thus we see how biased upholders of the Monochromatic Paradigm try their hardest, their damndest, to expunge Fringewhiner’s brilliance from the published literature. On this one occasion, they rescinded, and we finally get to see Fringewhiner take his place at the top of the pile, as Champion King Scientist (the ultimate accolade that any researcher strives for).
Fringewhiner’s (2015) primary conclusion is that everyone other than him is a blinkered, group-thinking idiot, and that virtually every single person who’s ever looked at a whale, dolphin or porpoise has been unable to properly see colour. Entire generations of whale-watchers, professional cetologists, mammalogists, and marine biologists have all been looking at cetaceans with a bland, blank, boring, monochromatic view that does not reflect the True nature of Science. It’s time that things were turned around and that a lot of people were expunged or removed from the positions of power they so inappropriately enjoy. [Adjacent pilot whale image by anim1057; NOAA Photo Library].
Glorious gold killer whales and the technicolour melon-head of Iligan
Having said that everyone other than Fringewhiner is an idiot, it should be noted that there have always been a few inclinations that things were waywardly wrong. Let’s look at writings penned more than a century ago, when Captain Robert F. Scott – writing about Antarctic Killer whales Orcinus orca spied on that fateful mission of 1911 – described their heads as “black and yellow”. That’s right, not black and white, but black and yellow. Herbert Ponting, the expedition’s photographer, also described these animals as “black and tawny” (Ellis 1983). [Colouring in image below by Gareth Monger.]
Skip forward several decades, and we encounter the wise and bold observations of W. J. F. Mörzer-Bruyns (1971). Mörzer-Bruyns wrote of seeing cetaceans of several sorts that scarcely anyone else ever did, but most notable of all was his observation of the Iligan dolphin. Observed in Iligan Bay in Mindanao, the Philippines, this amazing dolphin was described as being extremely similar to the Melon-headed whale Peponocephala electra but – far from being similar to the tedious, monochromatic, predominantly blackish or greyish creature of the mainstream literature – it was a beautiful technicolour animal of grace and panache, pink on its ventral surface, yellow across the flanks, and delicate brown elsewhere on the body [coloured rendition below by Gareth Monger]. Mörzer-Bruyns thought that this whale (he saw a whole school of them) might represent a new species of some sort. Nope. He had, in fact, been looking at Peponocephala itself, but merely with the accurate, enhanced colour vision of a True expert observer of True Science, not the blinkered, monochromatic view of the boring, group-thinking mainstreamers.
Some mainstream writers have expressed scepticism about Mörzer-Bruyns’s claim, noting that the existence of a technicolour version of Peponocephala seems unlikely given that all other members of this group of whales (the globicephalines) are tediously monochrome (Naish 1995). But, yet again, this poor, blinkered, hidebound opinion comes from supporters of the Monochromatic Paradigm – from people doing favours for their friends, unable or unwilling to bust the paradigm, mired in the shackles of orthodoxy. Fringewhiner (2015) rightly points out his need to teach them a lesson; a lesson involving unemployment, violence, public shaming, and excommunication from the Church of Science and Truth.
Then there’s the brilliant late Lyall Watson (1939-2008), whose 1981 book Whales of the World has often been regarded as some kind of fringe outsider in the cetological literature that proper students of the field should ignore, not embrace.
Watson – working in close collaboration with artist Tom Ritchie – was mostly blinkered by the Monochromatic Paradigm and evidently kowtowing to cetological orthodoxy. However, Watson and Ritchie broke the mould in their depiction of the North Pacific beaked whale species Mesoplodon stejnegeri, showing it not as a bland, steely grey chunk of cetacean monochrome, but as a veritable rainbow whale, resplendently decked out in swathes of sky blue, white, and chestnut brown, and with an umber-brown saddle crowning the face, melon and blowhole region (Watson 1981). Fringewhiner (2015) describes how he directed his Chromatic Truthometer in the direction of a picture of Mesoplodon stejnegeri and – sure as eggs is eggs – Watson was proved right; his Science was great after all, and he (and Ritchie) really had accurately depicted this beaked whale species; lo, such a thing of great beauty! Remember all those dull, grey or greyish beaked whales you’ve seen in all the mainstream cetology books? To that, we can say pah!, and... no!
Incidentally, ever the bold iconoclast, Watson (1981) opted not to use the ‘mainstream’ name for this species (Stejneger’s beaked whale), instead terming it the Bering Sea beaked whale on account of its projected distribution.
Those dolphins really are pink... they’re all pink
Finally, Fringewhiner (2015) brings our attention to all those dolphins that some people claim to see as bright pink, yet others regard as plain old tedious monochrome grey. This issue afflicts the Inia dolphins, or botos, of the Amazon and Orinoco river systems, as well as the humpbacked Sousa dolphins of the Indopacific, and assorted dolphins from elsewhere. [Photo below by Scuba_thib.]
The Chromatic Truthometer reveals, once again, that these radically different descriptions can be ascribed to different people’s ability to see and discern colour. For, you see, all of those dolphins really are bright pink – yes, all of them. The ‘Grey’ whale? Not grey at all. Pink. Observers unable to get it right are, so Fringewhiner (2015) explains, dumb, blinkered, unqualified, bedazzled by group-think, and unable to see properly.
So, we’ve entered a new age, and can leave the Monochromatic Paradigm behind us. Fringewhiner’s brilliance shows us the way, and we need never look back. First and foremost, we need a complete shakedown in terms of who it is that does our cetacean observing for us. No more bland, boring, visually impaired, group-thinking, dumb people who live in their tedious monochromatic little worlds – let us be rid of them. We need whole boats full of Fringewhiner-like super-tetrachromats, armed with Chromatic Truthometers, finally able to give us an accurate, multi-hued view of the cetacean world. Then things will be better, and we’ll be able to laugh at those who gave us the tedious, laboured, arcane, nonsense boring stupid old view of the past. Or, laugh at them more, anyway. [Colouring in rendition below by Gareth Monger.]
Let us finish with the sacred chant of the Church of Science and Truth: “TRUTH SCIENCE, TRUTH SCIENCE, TRUTH SCIENCE, TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH!!”
Refs - -
Ellis, R. 1983. Dolphins and Porpoises. Robert Hale, London.
Fringewhiner, D. 2015. Personal brilliance and awesomeness evidenced by novel methods of seeing reality, with applications to field cetology and internet banter about clothing. Truth and Science 37, 233-239.
Mörzer-Bruyns, W. F. J. 1971. Field Guide of Whales and Dolphins. Mees, Amsterdam.
Naish, D. 1995. Cryptocetology: introducing a new branch of cryptozoology. Animals & Men 7, 19-27.
Watson, L. 1981. Whales of the World. Hutchinson, London.