Somewhere in the Pacific ocean, a whale of unprecedented size is swimming around and calling out to other whales, with no response. This is the “52 Blue” whale, subject of worldwide devotion and fascination and a beautiful new essay on being alone from Leslie Jamison. You can (and should!) read an excerpt on Slate.
One marine-mammal researcher quoted in the story, Kate Stafford, may have inadvertently fanned the flames: “He’s saying, ‘Hey, I’m out here,’ ” she told Revkin. “Well, nobody is phoning home.” These letters came from the heartbroken and the deaf, from the lovelorn and the single; the once bitten, twice shy and the twice bitten, forever shy—people who identified with the whale or hurt for him, hurt for whatever set of feelings they’d projected onto him.