Whales in Danger

Whales and dolphins are threatened on all sides and in every way imaginable… from the seas they swim in, to the food they eat and the food they can be, to the money that can come from killing and caging them, and even from the enthusiasm of those who “love” them.

The most visible threat is the likely renewal of “legal” commercial whaling. Soon, if whaling nations have their way, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will end the present “moratorium”, i.e. the 1982 decision of the IWC to stop all commercial whaling for an indefinite period will be overturned. If this happens, a new era of slaughter on the high seas will begin.

Below the surface lurk a spectrum of chemical and acoustic pollutants with just as deadly potential. The most insidious for the acoustically dependent species is the esonification of the oceans by military powers. Developed in the name of “national security”, immensely powerful “LFAS” sound waves will soon sweep the seas searching for “enemy” submarines. Despite the fears of many, and proof of lethal harm to cetaceans, we are told there is no problem. Other acoustic threats abound… “ship shock” tests, seismic oil exploration, ship traffic. Chemical pollutants pour relentlessly into oceans despite well known hazards, and even when they are checked by some jurisdictions continue being carried from distant locales by ocean and air currents. Unfortunately, “out of sight, out of mind” continues as the prevailing attitude of governments and industries.

The core problem faced by whales is the self centred focus of humans. The perception that “we” come first dictates almost every point of human contact with the natural world. The “wise use” philosophy (if something exists and is not threatened, use it) is pervasive. Perhaps this is why the captivity issue is important to understand and to be involved in. Though the numbers of captives are relatively small, the impacts of thoughtless human actions are easy to see when we come face to face with individuals whose lives we have torn apart. The captive member of British Columbia’s “A5 pod” we know as Corky, and her personal cause, are important not just to her and her family in the ocean, but to all cetaceans… because in understanding Corky and her needs, we expand our field of vision to the world beyond. Why not allow self-organised and self conscious, social and intelligent species like whales and dolphins the opportunity to live free from human interference? Getting to that point from where we are now is a simple exercise in thought… seeing outside ourselves, and learning to care for others. It is possible!

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