My knowledge about the anatomy or the musculature of the various mammals that populate the vast ocean is very slim; generally, I view whales and dolphins with a healthy combination of respect and fear. They are large animals, some as big as a school bus, and would certainly crush me with their great weight should the circumstances arise. Death by whale is not on my top-five list of ways to go out, but after viewing this photo of a beluga proudly displaying his 12-pack, I am reconsidering my stance. Maybe that would be a good way to go.
The buff whale is enjoying a moment of glory on the Instagram account @whalesnation, one of the more pleasant places on that app. His love story, as depicted in this beautiful but brief post, is simple: he’s ripped, he’s proud, and he picked up some whale cooch as a result of the many hours he’s put in at the gym. To be clear, I do not endorse bestiality nor do I want to have sex with this animal, but I am awestruck by his body, in the same way that I regard a particularly moving sunset or the quiet hush of winter’s first snowfall.
Fortunately, @whalesnation is a small spot of respite in a troubled world, peppering my feed with pleasant imagery of apex predators frolicking in the waves, breaking up the slog of vacation pictures and celebrity self-promotion. I was not expecting to see a beluga whale with a six-pack that goes right up to the spot where his neck could be, and now that I’ve seen it, I don’t entirely know how to feel. The photo and the animal are reminiscent of Roger, the absolutely stacked kangaroo, who tragically died in 2018 after a long life of intimidating everyone around him with his pecs, traps, lats, and obliques. The key difference, though, is that the whale seems friendly, and Roger looked like he might throw you up against a wall, or into a garbage can, and then crush both between his enormous arms.
But the whale, my sweet and rubbery king, is different. It’s true that belugas generally look friendly, which they can’t help because that is how nature made their face. Even in repose, a beluga whale looks like it is smiling gently at you, just happy to be there, along for the ride. Consider this 10-year-old footage of a beluga in Mystic, Connecticut enjoying the musical stylings of a mariachi band.
He’s happy to be there, even though “there” is captivity, and not out in the sea doing Crossfit with his brethren. Notice that the midsection of this whale is smooth and round, like that of a football player gone to seed. The aquarium in Mystic likely does not have the sort of underwater fitness apparatus that the buff whale surely does, and honestly, that’s for the best. Buff Beluga’s great strength and general glow-up are too powerful for the tanks of aquariums world-wide; I feel certain that whales of a lesser physique cower in his wake and that the females of the species are drawn to him in ways that they cannot explain to their friends. Sure, he seemed nice at the start, but after a few dates and one limp make-out on the way home from a bar that was too loud, his appeal started to wane.
But this creature’s dating record is beside the point. What’s really striking is his resemblance to another mammal who got buff, then less so, in recent memory. There’s an air of the post-rehab Ben Affleck here, a puffy man who, like the phoenix that rises in perpetuity across his back, rose from the ashes of his own flameout to reveal a physique that looked like it was inflated by an air pump concealed somewhere in his pants. Dragging this unsavory line of thinking to the finish line here, this iteration of Ben Affleck was Ben at his most attractive. To be clear—again—I don’t want to fuck the whale. But a man with the essence of this whale’s confidence and joie de vivre has an animalistic appeal that strikes at the very heart of my desire in a way that I was not comfortable with until just now. Maybe it’s the promise of what lies beneath.