Liberated Seas

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Liberated Seas

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I was working as a deck hand on a ship in the South Pacific at the threshold of the global
pandemic lockdown. There are myriad sensations a sailor knows on any given day: the varying
strength, temperature, and sound of the wind or the feel of the sun or its absence. Yet what struck
me that day was an absence of the usual boat traffic and the distinctive sounds of powerful
breaths punctuating the rush of sea on the hull. In the relative unusual scarcity of ships to
threaten them with injuring or fatal collisions, migrating whales had gathered on the surface in
unusual numbers.
The usual dull roar of the maritime roar had been replaced by throaty deep breaths.
The puffing sound of them exhaling in choir as they rose from the azure depths surrounded us, as
the captain ordered for the ship to slow and halt. A pod rested on the waves, surrounding us.
One can project human attributes on animals, but the whales are sentient beings and
their breaths did sound like sighs of relief in the absence of any ships besides ours. The captain
cursed at the delay but artificial sense of time of course was a human construct that seemed
so dwarfed then by those giant breaths, a reminder of the primal rhythms of the sea and that
we were ultimately an invasive species humbled by a virus and the natural power of the ocean.

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text story

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Environment and the Pandemic

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This item was submitted on February 5, 2022 by Gregory using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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