Friday, October 30, 2009

Because they always have...

This week, a film titled The Cove was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Directed by Louis Psihoyos, it is an expos√© of the annual slaughter of thousands of whales and dolphins by fishermen in the small Japanese seacoast town of Taiji. For obvious reasons, I have not seen it nor will I. However, I am told that the film contains profoundly disturbing footage of the butchering of my fellow sentient and intelligent beings in that dark and bloody cove. Japanese officials defend this barbaric practice because that is ‘what these fishermen have always done’. They say that the world should respect cultural differences. Cultural differences! Are they insane? By that same perverted logic, the world should tolerate all acts of depravity in any nation as long as there is precedent. I thank the God that made you and me, that over the past two centuries, brave and caring humans in Europe and North America have categorically rejected this monstrous argument put forth by tyrants. If they had not, then slavery and genocide would still prevail in the lands where freedom reigns. The only way to stop this dark carnage inflicted upon my kind by yours is to bring it into the light. Good for you, Louis Psihoyos; good for you, organizers of the film festival for allowing it to be shown; and good for you, the decent people of Japan who are horrified by this brutal practice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The PICWW 2: Devil Fish They Ain't

This is the second edition in my Politically Incorrect Whale Watcher series. Today I will talk about the Gray Whale who your kind calls Devil Fish. First, let us deal with this unfortunate appellation; Gray Whales are not devils and they certainly are not fish. They got that name because of the aggressive way they behaved after being harpooned…hello! What would you do if some ugly little biped on a boat shot a razor sharp projectile into your back that exploded upon contact rupturing a lung or other organ? In your case, of course, you would be quite dead; but unfortunately for the great whales, they usually did not die quickly: and in the case of Gray Whales, they would often attack the boat. Nothing devilish about that, at least not on the part of the whale. Having said this, I will acknowledge that the Gray Whale is one of the least attractive of all whales. They have mottled skin with barnacles and whale lice (uuugh) all over their bodies, especially about the head. This is because they are unique among whales in that they are bottom-feeders, sucking up sediment containing amphipods from the sea floor, and unfortunately, parasites as well. So there you have it: as unattractive as they may be, devil fish they most certainly are not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blue Lady Down

This week a 70 foot, female Blue Whale was struck and killed by a ship in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Northern California. Her body washed ashore only hours after the ship reported hitting a whale a few miles away. Ironically, it was an ocean research vessel. The Blue Lady down had two deep gashes on her back, one of which cut the vertebral column. While scientists among your kind have not yet determined the cause of death, based on these facts, I think it likely that she drowned. As tragic as her death is to me and to all beings, I find some small measure of solace in that she did not suffer the final indignity of being torn apart by the Great White Sharks that frequent those same waters. And so another of our endangered mighty Blue Whales has died, and with her passing we have lost one of the most beautiful and largest of all creatures that God ever made. And for that, the oceans are a sadder place and this is a lesser planet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dolphins 0 Jellyfish 1

It has been brought to my attention that some of my Welsh cousins were filmed playing football (soccer to you Americans), or I guess a more apt description would be tailball, with some jellyfish off the coast of Wales recently. The U.S. television news commentator said the Bottlenose Dolphins repeatedly flipped the jellyfish high into the air, and he called them “playground bullies.” I must admit I concur. Dolphins do not appreciate it at all when Orcas do the same thing to us (usually it is Transient Orcas just before they eat us). I suppose there is some measure of good news in this incident in that dolphins rarely eat these stinging, diaphanous creatures; however, I am sure that fact gave them little comfort as they were being zipped through the air. Therefore, I hereby sincerely apologize to the jellyfish of Wales on behalf of my kin. And I award the game to the jellyfish by default.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The PICWW: Three kinds of Orcas.

This begins my Politically Incorrect Whale Watcher feature, in which, I will occasionally give you my candid views on my fellow beings. Today we will start with the ones you call Killer Whales. First, let me set the record straight, all whales and dolphins are killers. We all kill to live, so do you. But let us not go there. There are three kinds of Orcas: first are those you call Residents. They live in coastal waters, stay close to home, and eat only fish. Among their own, they are very social, caring, and loving. Hence, I refer to them as Sissyboys. Next come Transients. These guys are mean, hard, and highly taciturn. They roam all cold-water seacoasts and only eat mammals; including other whales, so obviously I call them Cannibals (not to their faces because if I did I would be dinner). Your whale experts are correct in saying that they do not eat humans but it is only because you are bony, stinky, little creatures and killing you is not worth the effort. And finally, there are those you call Offshore Orcas. These guys are really, really cool. They live far from land and never interbreed with the other two kinds. They mostly eat sharks, especially Great White Sharks; so it should come as no surprise that I call them Heroes. So there you have it: the PICWW on Orcas. In the future, I will give you the scoop on other whales and dolphins. If there are any in particular that you want to hear some gossip about, let me know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The day the last king dies...

One day in the not too distant future the last king of the Seven Seas, a mighty Blue Whale, will die. It will happen like this: one hundred feet in length, weighing two hundred tons, he is the largest creature that has ever lived on the planet. As intelligent as man, he out smarted this arrogant and ruthless descendant of apes for over one hundred years. In his youth, he learned to avoid ships with pointed bows and bloody decks, and ugly little men hunched over harpoon cannons, that slaughtered great whales by the hundreds of thousands. Throughout his life, he dodged fifty-mile long drift nets that drowned other whales and dolphins, leaving their bloated bodies to suffer the final indignity of being savaged by sharks. For decades, he swam through polluted seas, clogged with oil, and filth, and plastic; and in the twilight of his years, he struggled to find enough food in ever-warming waters to sustain his enormous bulk while other great whales slowly starved to death. Finally, one day when he can no longer find any others of his kind left in all the oceans of the world, he will close his eyes for the last time and in a sad and lonely silence slowly sink into the depths. Gone. Forever. And with his passing, humankind will have lost something it can never recover—its very soul.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who is the most civilized?

We, the other most intelligent and sentient beings who share this blue space marble with you, are in awe of all that you have accomplished since you came down from the trees. Your achievements in science and technology are staggering, your industrial might is overpowering, and your triumphs in the arts stir the imagination and soothe the soul. And yet, as magnificent as these are, your world is still weighed down by poverty, starvation, and never-ending war. In every great city, there are sections where you dare not go, and in every religion, there are zealots who live in hatred of different followers of the same God. At this very moment, the most powerful man on earth is debating the relative merits of counterinsurgency versus counterterrorism in a foreign land, while at home millions of his people have no protection from the crushing burdens of catastrophic illness. In contrast, we, the whales and dolphins who swim out beyond the thin blue line that divides your world from ours have none of the above; neither the good nor the bad. And yet, I ask you, who is the most civilized?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In preserving all things wild, there is salvation.

Why should you care about saving whales and dolphins? Why should my fellow beings deserve any more of your attention than the thousands upon thousands of human causes and needs that seek your time and money? Even though we are sentient and intelligent beings who come closer to you on these two critical dimensions than all other living things, I will not be so presumptuous to tell you that the life of a whale or a dolphin is any more important than that of a human. No. It is not for our salvation that you should be concerned about us; it is for your own. When you draw your last breath, it will not matter how much power, or prestige, or prosperity you have achieved. It will not matter what your contribution has been to furthering civilization. In the last analysis, the only accomplishment that can and will make you smile, and face eternity with a deep sense of accomplishment, is what you have done for all things wild. Save us, all creatures great and small, on land and sea, and you will save yourself.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The paradox of mountains.

Sometimes I get discouraged that few among your kind, really give a damn about whales and dolphins. Most of you are so concerned about your own lives that you have no time to care about your own species, let alone mine. To me it seems that you are lost and alone in one of life’s dark valleys, surrounded by mountains that tower over you, making you seem small and insignificant. For you to see the view from their peaks you must climb their sides, a journey that is arduous and often fatal. Whereas for whales and dolphins, we spend our lives above the mountains. From our vantage point, we can see the majesty of a mountaintop, while its base holds no appeal for us, because it is rooted firmly in the deeps, where we dare not go. I wonder if that is why the soul of man is cloaked in darkness and self-pity, while that of beings is filled with light and hope; because you spend your entire lives looking up at mountains, wishing you were on top, while we spend our lives looking down on them, thankful we are not at the bottom.