Manual By the sea, back then: A tale about the island

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For instance, in , seventeen whales were stranded ashore the Elbe River in Germany. In , thirty-one made landfall in Brittany. In , sixteen washed up in Cape Canaveral, and in , 72 were found on the coasts of New Zealand. A variety of circumstances can result in a stranding, including rough weather, illness or age, difficulty giving birth, hunting mishaps, or even attempts to rescue another whale in distress. The sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus is a strange animal, even among whales. The largest toothed whale, and toothed predator, in the world, the sperm whale holds many records.

It has the longest intestinal tract and largest brain in the animal kingdom. It also has the largest nose of any animal and cavities within its head hold reservoirs of liquid wax called Spermaceti. This behemoth can reach up to 67 feet long and weigh as much as , pounds! While their strange appearance and prolific beachings likely inspired many monster stories, sperm whales are not the only cetaceans that natural history writers had contact with. For instance, a blue whale — the largest animal to have ever lived — is documented as having come ashore as early as , in Scotland. Interactions with right whales, bowheads, baleens, and orcas also inspired Leviathan legends.

The range of monsters inspired by cetaceans is charmingly diverse, including many varieties in addition to the Devil Whale. Most are likely the result of an amalgamation of many species, and some like the Devil Whale may also have been shaped by religious undercurrents. Pristers are found in multiple forms throughout Carta Marina and in many subsequent publications. The common feature among them is the presence of two blowholes, most often acting as water cannons drowning unlucky vessels. How can such a beast be defeated? Not by cannon-fire. Instead, try sounding a trumpet, which will startle the monster, or dump some empty barrels in the ocean, with which the creature will become distracted and stop to play.

What species is this monster likely based on? Well, Baleen Whales do actually have two blowholes, and Magnus refers to the beasts as Physeter. The modern-day suberfamily including sperm whales is Physeteroidea. He hath as ugly a head as an Owl; his mouth is wondrous deep, as a vast pit, whereby he terrifies and drives away those that look into it. His eyes are horrible, his back Wedge-fashion, or elevated like a sword.

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His snout is pointed. These often enter upon the Northern Coasts as Thieves and hurtful Guests, that are always doing mischief to ships they meet, by boring holes in them, and sinking them. This bizarre, owl-headed creature is depicted with a seal in its jaws.

  1. The end of the ice ages.
  2. Surfer’s Tale;
  3. The Story of the Impossible Island.

This, and the shape of the fin, suggest that the monster may be based on an Orca. A Great White Shark has also been suggested. We all know whales are real, and we know that they can grow to extraordinary sizes the largest size on earth, in fact. They have even been documented to attack and sink ships for instance, in , the vessel Essex was sunk by a sperm whale , so those crews wishing to harpoon a whale has reason to be cautious.

Does the Leviathan exist? Even within the sixteenth century writings of Magnus and Gessner, Leviathan monsters such as Devil Whales and Pristers are identified as whales. However, are you likely to mistake a whale for an island and try to cook your dinner on it? None of this means that population does not matter.

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But the main impact comes from relative changes—the growth of one part of the population compared with another, for example, or shifts in the average age of the population—rather than the absolute number of people. Of these relative changes, falling fertility is most important. The fertility rate is the number of children a woman can expect to have. At the moment, almost half the world's population—3. That number, the so-called replacement rate, is usually taken to be the level at which the population eventually stops growing.

The world's decline in fertility has been staggering see chart 2.

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In the total fertility rate was 4. It is now 2. Bangladesh's rate is 2. Iran's fertility fell from 7 in to just 1. Countries with below-replacement fertility include supposedly teeming Brazil, Tunisia and Thailand. Much of Europe and East Asia have fertility rates far below replacement levels. The fertility fall is releasing wave upon wave of demographic change. It is the main influence behind the decline of population growth and, perhaps even more important, is shifting the balance of age groups within a population.

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A fall in fertility sends a sort of generational bulge surging through a society. The generation in question is the one before the fertility fall really begins to bite, which in Europe and America was the baby-boom generation that is just retiring, and in China and East Asia the generation now reaching adulthood. To begin with, the favoured generation is in its childhood; countries have lots of children and fewer surviving grandparents who were born at a time when life expectancy was lower.

That was the situation in Europe in the s and in East Asia in the s. This happens when there are relatively few children because of the fall in fertility , relatively few older people because of higher mortality previously , and lots of economically active adults, including, often, many women, who enter the labour force in large numbers for the first time. It is a period of smaller families, rising income, rising life expectancy and big social change, including divorce, postponed marriage and single-person households.

But there is a third stage. At some point, the gilded generation turns silver and retires. Now the dividend becomes a liability. There are disproportionately more old people depending upon a smaller generation behind them. Population growth stops or goes into reverse, parts of a country are abandoned by the young and the social concerns of the aged grow in significance. This situation already exists in Japan. It is arriving fast in Europe and America, and soon after that will reach East Asia. A demographic dividend tends to boost economic growth because a large number of working-age adults increases the labour force, keeps wages relatively low, boosts savings and increases demand for goods and services. Part of China's phenomenal growth has come from its unprecedentedly low dependency ratio—just 38 this is the number of dependents, children and people over 65, per working adults; it implies the working-age group is almost twice as large as the rest of the population put together.

One study by Australia's central bank calculated that a third of East Asia's GDP growth in came from its favourable demography.

About a third of America's GDP growth in also came from its increasing population. The world as a whole reaped a demographic dividend in the 40 years to In there were 75 dependents for every adults of working age. In the number of dependents dropped to just Huge improvements were registered not only in China but also in South-East Asia and north Africa, where dependency ratios fell by 40 points.

A demographic dividend does not automatically generate growth. It depends on whether the country can put its growing labour force to productive use. In the s Latin America and East Asia had similar demographic patterns. One of the biggest questions for Arab countries, which are beginning to reap their own demographic dividends, is whether they will follow East Asia or Latin America.

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But even if demography guarantees nothing, it can make growth harder or easier. National demographic inheritances therefore matter. And they differ a lot. Hania Zlotnik, the head of the UN's Population Division, divides the world into three categories, according to levels of fertility see map.

Fish Tales

About a fifth of the world lives in countries with high fertility—3 or more. Most are Africans. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is one of the fastest-growing parts of the world.