They're Sperm Whales to be specific. They can reach 60 feet and are the largest and only endangered marine mammal in the Gulf.
They dive into deep waters, the cold and dark, finding squid to eat, and can stay under the surface for 45 minutes before resurfacing.
People are worried about them because they don't have babies very often, and even if 3 whales are killed due to the oil spill, it could wipe out this population. They were already in danger.
I asked a wise and trusted friend who is very connected to the earth how she is dealing with this spill, the emotion of so much damage. She said, "you have to let your heart break open again and again and again and again."
Sometimes there is so much sadness. Sometimes we hurt, badly hurt, people and things that we love and need. We do it without thinking, without knowing. But that doesn't undo it. So I'm letting myself be sad about this. Trying to be present for all the life there. To take responsibility but not dwell in guilt. To take heart, so all the beings there can take heart. How beautiful they are, this mama and baby.
Sperm whales sing to each other. The whales are also highly social creatures that stay in tight-knit groups for 10 or more years, and mothers typically rely on other adults to look after their young. Listen to their wonderful clicky voices here. Some sounds I think I'll sample!