In Vietnamese, the name for a whale translates as 'king fish' or 'venerable fish' because this animal is respected and revered by coastal people. It is thought that the whale has been the saviour of many fishermen and is regarded as a friend. If a whale is washed up on a beach, the villagers will bury the whale and mark the site with all the ritual and kindness that friends deserve. If a man dies at sea, whales are thought to bring their spirits back to shore so they can enjoy eternal rest.


Some communities have built shrines to remember a great whale or even a museum to display the skeleton. In Vung Tau there is a whale graveyard but it should be noted that the Vietnamese do not differentiate between whales, dolphins and porpoises.


Watercolour - 68cm x 24cm 

Whale spirit by Bridget March