A female Cuvier’s beaked whale is headed down. Down past the birds. Down past the fish. Down past where light can reach. She’s already in the twilight zone. Soon her lungs will collapse, the negative buoyancy pulling her further down like a sinking bullet. Down down down into the inky black abyss. At 2 kilometres depth she’s in her element. Here she hunts, fighting the squid that over the years have marred her face with scars. She will stay down here as long as it takes. One hour. Two hours. Three, four. It is only the mammalian condition that forces her upwards again. Towards life, towards light. And that crucial breath.
A little painting to celebrate the new mammalian dive record. Previously held by a Cuvier’s beaked whale who dove down to 2992 metres, staying under for 2 hours and 17 minutes. Yesterday news came out that a fellow Cuvier’s broke that record. They stayed down for no less than 3 hours and 42 minutes. Almost four hours without breath. What must it be like to spend life like this, divided between the warm, sun-filled waters, and the absolute blackness of the freezing deep?