A Science story by Anna
Sullivan was a normal sperm whale. Being born 14 and a half feet long, he was now 60 feet long and an adult. Sullivan had not yet found a bachelor pod to travel with and had decided he was rather hungry. He took a fancy to the idea of getting himself a giant squid for lunch. He planned out where he should dive, for he wanted to get as close to the ocean floor as possible. This would be as easy as taking a step is for a human. If only the giant squid lived on the continental slope or rise (where he spent most of his time) he’d have light to see in the twilight zone.
Sullivan swam to what he thought was the best spot to dive into the abyss, lobtailed to give him more speed and shot, at an angle, downward. It got darker the farther down he went. He heard the warning call of a fellow whale – a humpback – not a good sign. He stopped before all light completely disappeared. Sullivan scanned the waters around him. Nothing. He swam forward, staying completely alert. He was confident, for he was quite big for a toothed whale… But just the same, there’s always a bigger fish. Especially down here.
Suddenly he saw something move past very quickly. Something with a ghostly glow. He caught only a glimpse of what looked like many arms. Could this be it? He swam very slowly now. There it was again! Sullivan readied himself. The third time the giant tangle of arms swam past, he caught the cephalopod by one of its largest arms. The giant squid was quick to react, it grabbed Sullivan with the other feeding arm and pulled itself onto him.
The whale hadn’t really planned this far, he struggled to free himself unsuccessfully. It was quite cold down this deep, where the sun doesn’t reach, and Sullivan wasn’t used to these temperatures, he could feel himself slowing. It was becoming harder to move. He had to get to the surface, and quick, or he was going to die to this beast. The sperm whale struggled, determined not to let himself be dragged into the black. He saw a huge eye staring hate at him. Ow, she began squeezing tighter and pecking him, yes pecking mercilessly, leaving scars all over.
He pushed upward. It was very difficult with something half his own size squeezing him to death. Slowly the battling two floated upward, toward light and warmth. Sullivan bit off one of the monster’s arms and heard a kind of screeching of pain come from her. The huge suckers felt weird in his mouth, and he almost gagged on the arm.
As the whale felt the squid weakening, he too, felt too tired to fight. He had made it so far, how could he give up now? But the enormous eye no longer looked angry and hateful. Sullivan was a whale. He was used to the rule of the ocean – kill or be killed. There was something strange about this case, though. He had a feeling, no, he somehow knew that this was a mother, strange as it was that she was alone and not in a shoal… maybe it was different with giant squids.
In any case, he could not end this creature’s existence. The effort would probably end his own life, as exhausted as he was. The eye looked as though this seemingly emotionless creature were begging for mercy. She let go of him! He stopped fighting and left her be. She, now having only 9 arms, looked at him, then up, as if thanking the Giver of Life for saving hers to care for that of her eggs, slowly swam back into the dark, cold waters of the abyssal plain.
Sullivan did not, indeed, become a vegetarian, but stayed in his rightful parts of the ocean, finding himself a bachelor pod to swim with and living quite a satisfactory life – never again to go looking in the cold and dark to find bigger prey.
Anna wrote this as an assignment from her Apologia Science Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.