Whales at the Center

The fat of a whale, as measured from the tips of its minutely stretched blood vessels to its black skin, is over a foot thick. Even submerged in frigid seawater, the animal maintains its temperature as it catches light from a hole in the ice. The foot of fat is actually several layers. Dividing them, instead of membranes, are subtle gradations in color, which fade from red to pale pink to white, as one follows the arteries from the core to the hide.

The hardest wall of fat is just under the skin. Only occasionly will blood vessels braid themselves into this network of lipid strands. The circulatory system can barely touch them; the heart enjoys only a distant contact. It concedes, first to the pink of the early layers, then to the last tints of color, to leave the pure white fat, and the skin, alone.

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