No. 5.—The Leviathan.

LEVIATHANS INHABIT THE deeper waters of the Mediterranean, where they feed mostly on trawlers and slow-moving merchant ships. Surprisingly little is known about the creatures, considering that they have been documented in literature for more than three thousand years. Their mating habits, in particular, are only beginning to reveal themselves to science. It appears that leviathans gather off the coast of Crete late in the winter. The mating call of the male leviathan consists of snatches of Wagner bellowed in a basso profundo that carries for several miles; the female answers similarly in a powerful mezzo-soprano, and the two engage in an extended duet that lasts for most of March. Following an orchestral interlude, the female gives birth to two young, whom she names Mahalaleel and Britney. The young cling to their mother’s elaborate dorsal fin as she goes off in search of small rowboats and kayaks with which to feed them. They grow rapidly, and soon are feeding themselves on tourist boats and the smaller private yachts. At this point the mother chases them away and stops returning their phone calls. Thereafter the young leviathans are on their own.

Historically, tuna have been the main natural enemies of the leviathan, as they were of the dolphin; but the newer breeds of “dolphin-safe” tuna are much less aggressive and pose little threat. Leviathans have sometimes been hunted for their blubber, which is a principal ingredient in certain nauseating Cretan dishes. The trade in leviathan blubber is now prohibited, however: a prohibition for which the people of Crete have expressed their profound gratitude on more than one occasion.

The leviathan signifies Leisure, because he was made to play (Ps. 104:26).