Whaling Nations Slaughtering Again

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I’d like to think that the whaling nations of the past slaughtered species of whales into extinction because they didn’t know what we now know about whales. What do we know? Far more than this article can cover, but we know that whales communicate, have sophisticated navigation abilities, feel pain, are social animals, and we now recognize that dolphins and (highly likely) killer whales are the second smartest mammals on earth…yes, smarter than chimpanzees even…but unfortunately not quite as smart as humans even though their brains are shaped and formed like human brains.

For example, only a very few mammals can recognize their own faces when looking in a mirror: humans, great apes, Asian elephants, and dolphins and killer whales can do so. And what have we done to these self-aware mammals? Kill, capture, and captivity. They have then been put on display for entertainment purposes and financial gain for the captors. (Humans have even done this to other humans.)

Unfortunately, due to the persistence of whaling nations who refuse to participate in the whaling ban that over 80 other nations adhere to (and these whaling nations are Norway, Iceland, Japan, the Faroe Islands, and Russia) endangered whale species are again threatened. (In all fairness, however, it seems the Norwegians primarily only  hunt minke whales which seem to have sufficient numbers at this time.) But for the others,  will the responsibility for causing extinction be put in the history books of these countries? Why do humans always presume to have the right to kill, main, pillage, plunder, and destroy other living creatures and environments? Isn’t it enough that people kill each other?

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Mounted whale harpoon

On July 1, 2019, Japan will resume commercial whaling again…not that they ever stopped even though they signed the International Whaling Commission’s treaty banning commercial whaling. They claim the whaling they did was for “scientific research,” asking the world to accept that all 333 minke whales slaughtered last year (many said to be in ocean preserves) were slaughtered for research purposes. They insist they will only whale in certain areas, but can they really be trusted when they signed the IWC, an international treaty, and then ignored it?

The slaughter of dolphins continues unabated also in the bloody Taigi Bay – a sinful. vicious act considering the intelligence of the dolphin who many say is the smartest mammal in the world – likely smarter than people, just not as deceitful, rapacious, or conniving.

While Japan’s history and culture claim a rich heritage, their actions belie them.

There are many Japanese people who object to the whaling and dolphin slaughter. The resumption of whaling is instead a dismal reflection on Japan’s leadership. But then, it seems all nations have problematic leadership issues from time to time, don’t they?  Public outcry and boycotting is one way to stop this savagery.

Read more about whales in Saving Our Oceans.

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Save a Whale – It’s Easy

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Here’s an easy,  gratifying way to feel uplifted and do a wondrous deed in the process.

Adopt an Orca! This small adoption act is powerful and enriching. Your donation will not only leave you feeling delightfully good, but somehow the adoption feels like a gift for you too.

The Friday Harbor Whale Museum has a wonderful whale adoption program. For $35 a person can adopt an orca (a member of the Southern Resident Pod) and help support these endangered whales. The proceeds from the adoption support orca education and research.

You get to choose your whale from a long list of available adoptees. (They all have names, too!) You’ll receive a large photo of your whale along with adoption papers, and you’ll also receive a monthly newsletter about the pod. It’s an incredible program. Or a person can do a family adoption or a classroom adoption.

After adopting a whale in 2018, I “gifted” the whale (Cookie) to my four-year-old grandson so that he might develop an interest in these animals and eventually grow to be a steward of nature in some manner. He now has several story books starring orcas.

You might tend to think this is gimmicky, or perhaps akin to adopting a star and naming it after someone. But orca adoption is entirely different. These whales are strikingly intelligent, social beings. The Southern Resident Pod is in a precarious situation in part due to the rampant capture and imprisonment of these magnificent mammals by Sea World which decimated the population. Tragically, no captive whale has lived much beyond 30 years of age. In the wild they can live up to 80 years and longer. And, no whale born into captivity lives past 30. (Sea World can’t seem to figure out that swimming pools just aren’t the same as the ocean. This is why Sea World is one of the most hated companies in America.)

Click here to access the whale adoption page on the Friday Harbor website.

You can also buy a copy of Saving Our Oceans and support these whales. The Whale Museum is a 2019 recipient of the proceeds from the sale of Saving Our Oceans.

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A Lot of Whitewashing When it Comes to Whales

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Photo by John Boyd

It’s difficult to read “Information about Whales Held in Captivity Helps Wild Orcas” by Gene Johnson, published April 22, and not shake one’s head in disbelief. Although Johnson’s article is well-written and informative, it appears to be an attempt by Sea World to cultivate good public relations and justify keeping orcas captive.

Basically, orcas were captured and put into super-sized swimming pools to amuse spectators and enrich Sea World owners. It’s well documented that many orcas died in the attempt to capture them. Babies were separated from their mothers. Family groups were broken up. Because of being captured, the native orca population of the Salish Sea experienced a tremendous blow from which it has never recovered, and possibly never will. The whales are now in critical decline and due to their capture and other human factors and interference we may see these incredible whales become extinct.

The orca is a highly intelligent mammal. These whales communicate with each other; in the wild they navigate using sonar; they have extremely close family ties; they feel pain and THEY ARE SELF-AWARE.

Almost NO ORCAS live beyond the age of 30 in captivity; even orcas born into captivity due to Sea World’s captive breeding program die prematurely – if they survive birth at all. In the wild these amazing mammals can live to be up to 80-years of age. To say, however, that the testing done on these captive orcas was done to help wild orcas is pure poppycock. If blood tests of captive orcas were taken for the past 20 years, why is it only NOW that Sea World is sharing test results, despite being asked for information many times in the past.

Indeed, it took public pressure and lawsuits to stop Sea World from breeding orcas and capturing them in the wild. Thank goodness for that.  Supposedly the whales are now used to provide “more educational experiences where guests can still enjoy and marvel at the majesty and power of the whales.” Can all that be seen in a super-sized prison of a swimming pool? Really?

There is a call for orcas held in captivity to be put into marine preserves where they can be in a more natural environment. Many orcas might then be able to transition to the wild. Of course, Sea World claims the marine sanctuaries are just ocean pens, as though their swimming pools are a better environment for a whale that’s considered to be the prime predator of the oceans. Shame.

It’s also quite shameful for Sea World’s vice president to claim, “Our stance is to do research with our animals to try to help this population now, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why I got into what I do – to try to help animals in the wild.”  Really? It seems pretty obvious that whales have been big money for Sea World. To claim that Sea World is doing this out of the goodness of their heart is hard to swallow considering that some of the captive whales become so frustrated they have  killed trainers (something they never do in the wild); frustrated orcas beat their heads against the side of the pool; they grind their teeth to nubs…

When Robeck says, “It’s an example of how we are dedicated to participating in the well-being of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest and around the world, and how research with our animals is vital in answering some of these questions about how to address the needs of animals in the wild,” it’s stunning that he does not begin to acknowledge the horror of what they have done, and are doing, to the many orcas they’ve held in captivity. How to address their needs? Don’t capture them and hold them prisoner!

What more can be said? These animals do not belong in swimming pools. Sea World’s actions with orcas are prime examples of appalling animal cruelty.

(Read more about whales and the Southern Resident Pod in  Saving Our Oceans. Available after May 15 on Amazon)

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