Photo credit: Seaworld.org
...an ode to Shamu.
I have a problem.
It all started with that Chumby I was telling you about before (yes, that's a link, for those of you who are curious - just click on the word "Chumby" and it'll take you there). The Chumby is an alarm clock, yes. It also shows the latest stock prices, the local weather forecast, breaking news, traffic reports, LOL cats, Overheard in New York, vintage Loony Tunes, and oh, so much more.
Our favorite thing from the start was the live webcams. Every night when we go to bed, we can check on the street scenes in Times Square (latenight), Dublin (early morning), Abbey Road in London (early morning), Kona Beach Hawaii, etc. There's something very soothing about seeing a moment in time around the world.
And then there are the zoo cams.
Now, I'm an animal person to begin with. I love to watch animals, or, really, critters of any variety - even bugs. And as much as I love to watch them, I am equally horrified that animals have to live in captivity at the zoo. There's nothing better than taking our nieces and nephews to the zoo, and there's nothing worse that watching a group of tweenage boys taunting the bears in their cages just to make their friends think they're "tough". I can't come to terms with my feelings about the zoo.
I am equally conflicted over large ocean creatures in aquariums. And I am even more irresistibly attracted by watching things underwater. This has been a lifelong obsession of mine, from watching Jaques Cousteau as a kid to collecting water bugs from the ponds and marshes on our ranch, from snorkeling among the giant rocks of The Baths on Virgin Gorda as a teenager to learning to SCUBA dive off the coast of Belize in my 20s. If anything, I love our local aquarium even more than our local zoo.
So it was that I was primed for love at first sight when we found the Shamu Cam on our Chumby.
I can't say that I ever had a special place in my heart for Killer Whales. Not until now, anyway. But, since the advent of our Chumby, I am as eager for bedtime every night as a kid on Christmas eve. While M. reads his business reports and tech magazines, I prop myself on my elbows and settle in for an evening of Shamu-watching.
Let me tell you, I had no idea. I really didn't. But I am now convinced that Killer Whales are the best thing, the very best thing ever to inhabit this big, beautiful planet. Have you ever seen them swim together? And I don't mean during the shows, where they do tricks in formation and flap their tails for treats. I mean underwater. These enormous, toothful creatures are the most graceful, clownish, comical, lyrical things that I have ever had the pleasure of resting my eyes upon. They are as agile as dolphins and as inventive. They are always in motion, and every night there is a new show of agility, a new and more creative routine that they come up with to entertain themselves. Some nights, they're all about teamwork and swim in graceful formation for hours like the most well-rehearsed of water ballerinas. Some nights they're all about clowning around, and it's a free-for-all in the tanks.
The cameras are underwater, so it's like having a window on a secret world, especially at night when the ambient light is just right for whale watching.
The other night, I stayed up til 3 am Shamu-watching. Yah. This could be a problem.
Oh, Shamu, how I love you.
I felt just the tiniest bit better to know that the various Shamus (it's just a stage name, as I learned on "Ask Shamu") are mostly born and raised in captivity these days. Otherwise I would have been sorely tempted to do a "Free Willy" on their @$$es.
Am I glad that there are Shamus in a gigantic tank somewhere so that I can watch them on a web cam? Yes, because otherwise I would never have come to understand the wonder and beauty of Killer Whales. Would I rather, on the whole, that they were out free in the great oceans of the world? Ab-so-frickin-lutely. Just give me a few more nights...