A beached whale is the perfect time for an impromptu anatomy lesson of a sperm whale’s penis. In a memorable hands-on demonstration, whale expert Joy Reidenberg demonstrates how the whale can manoeuvre a prehensile penis of huge proportions with devastating precision. News to me. If you ask me she handles that thing quite well, kudus.
“I know him not,” says Ishmael, the narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, “and never will.” The best documentaries about the natural world reveal more about what we don’t know than what we do. Together with the sheer majesty of the species dissected, this is what made Sperm Whale: Inside Nature’s Giants Special one of the outstanding nature documentaries of recent years.
And that despite an inauspicious setting. In March, a sperm whale was beached on the craggy sands of Pegwell Bay in Kent. Taupe skies gave a grimness to its final setting, but veterinary scientist Mark Evans, who looks like the sort of person you’d back in a fight with a cobra, saw this as a marvellous opportunity. He and the producers called in a garrulous anatomist called Joy Reidenberg, who soon emerged as the star of the show. In a 20-hour burst, first under floodlights and later fighting the tide, they went digging into Leviathan. Via www.independent.co.uk