Thursday, October 29, 2009


This morning I found a news article which, to my mind, represents the pinnacle of journalistic art. The link is here, but I've reproduced the entire thing because it's just that good. Please bear in mind that this is national freakin' news.

From the briny depths of the South Pacific has come a massive ... something; which has parked itself on the stony shoreline of a Temuka beach.

Rose Fraser was walking along Browns Beach yesterday morning when she spotted the lump of stuff.

"I first saw it from a distance and I thought: 'That's a big white rock on the shore line ... that wasn't there four days ago'." As she got closer to the thing she thought it could be a piece of driftwood – a really big bit of driftwood – but upon reaching it, Miss Fraser's thoughts turned from sea to sky.

"I must admit, I thought: 'Heck, this is an alien'. It looks like it's got big ribs coming out of it, but it looks like they could be tentacles, so I don't know."

Cautiously, and ready to run should the thing suddenly leap into life, Miss Fraser lobbed a rock at it, then prodded it with a stick. Whatever it was, it sat there, not moving. All it did was emit a slight odour.

After Miss Fraser rang The Timaru Herald, a photo of the woolly, stringy object was sent to the Department of Conservation in Wellington, who sent it to Niwa and Te Papa. It was also sent to Otago University's whale experts.

After a flurry of emails a consensus was reached.
It was the top – essentially the stuffing – of a sperm whale's head.
As the blob was soft tissue, compartmentalised and big, it was likely to be the large spermaceti organ and "junk" of a sperm whale, probably male.

Those structures deal with sound beam focusing in sperm whales and related whales and dolphins and were also filled with a straw-coloured oily wax called spermaceti or case oil.
It is not yet known what will happen to the blob of whale.

Here are the reasons why this is the best article ever:

1. Descriptive phrases like "lump of stuff," "woolly, stringy object," and my personal favourite, "a really big bit of driftwood."

2. I love that she threw a rock at it, then poked it with a stick. That is exactly what you would do in that situation. At which point it emitted a slight odour. PERFECT.

3. I had no idea that Otago University had whale experts. Why? What do they do in the off season?

4. This sentence: " was likely to be the large spermaceti organ and "junk" of a sperm whale, probably male." Do they mean junk as in, like, junk? If not then they shouldn't use such an easily misinterpreted word in a sentence that already has 'sperm' in it twice. Also, is "stuffing" really the scientific word for what is inside a whale's head? Was this checked with the Otago Whale Experts?

5. The final sentence. "It is not yet known what will happen to the blob of whale."


Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

Ah journalism. The stink of failure for all to see. Just brilliant.

Holly said...

Bwahahah! That is the most awesome piece of news ever!

Ashley Louise said...

ha. They said junk.

Either the writier had alot of fun seeing how many times he/she could say "sperm", or if they were really trying hard to make this sound legitimate.

Baglady said...

Sorry, is this from the whale's noggin or his nuts? Am lost.

Gary said...

If I was in Whale Heaven and lets face it thats where all good sperm whales go. Im looking down from my allocated cloud and saw some woman throwing an rock and then poking a stick at my junk, I would haunt her to the end of her days.

Just saying. Carry on.