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Sounding the Limits of LifeEssays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond$
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Stefan Helmreich

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164809

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164809.001.0001

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Cetology Now

Cetology Now

Formatting the Twenty-First-Century Whale

(p.44) Chapter 4 Cetology Now
Sounding the Limits of Life

Stefan Helmreich

Sophia Roosth

Michele Friedner

Princeton University Press

This chapter proposes a classification of today's whales according to three different formats: the analog whale, the digital whale, and the simulated whale. The analog whale would be a whale of the waves, rising, though mostly falling. As the type of the ANALOG, think of the whale fall, the sunken carcass of a whale, which in its deep death can give rise to an ecology all its own. The cetacean understood as a linear sequence of DNA, of discrete nucleotide bases, fits into the category of the digital whale. Under the simulated whale, we can place the fiberglass whale made by the marine biologist Jenifer Hurley, of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, to train sea lions to film migrating whales. The chapter suggests that all of these representations of whales in their migrations toward death reach toward another format: the virtual.

Keywords:   whales, analog whale, digital whale, simulated whale, whale fall, fiberglass whale, sea lions, migration, DNA

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