Friday, March 18, 2011

Killer Whale v. Great White Shark

What's the difference between a Killer Whale and a Great White Shark? Some of you might answer, a brain; but you would only be half right.

Orcas are intelligent, sentient, sociable beings capable of reasoning, planning, problem solving, thinking abstractly, comprehending complex ideas, learning quickly, learning from experience, collaborating through communication, and perhaps most intriguing of all, playing, as a triathlete in New Zealand recently discovered. While swimming 80 meters offshore she looked down and saw "a big black and white face looking up at me." After frantically getting back on land, she realized that the Orca was simply curious and wanted to play. On the other hand, Great White Sharks are little more than a life support system for a gruesome mouth, and had this woman's encounter been with one of these mindless eating machines it would have ended differently; horribly so.

Having said this, Great White Sharks possess something that far too many Orcas do not, which is freedom. This is because these sharks die immediately in captivity and cannot be kept in sea parks. Orcas also die in captivity, long before their time, but not right away. Instead they are doomed to suffer years of mindless boredom, physical hardship, and mental anguish. And lest you think that the capture of Orcas in the wild is prohibited, both Japan and Russia have recently begun allowing it again; dooming more of these magnificent creatures to a slow and cruel death, all for our entertainment.

And that, my friend is the real difference between the Killer Whale and the Great White Shark...FREEDOM!

P.S. I'll be traveling for a few weeks and unable to post...see you on the other side.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arrogance, Intolerance and Stupidity

According to Chuck Tompkins, curator of zoological operations for Sea World parks, steps are being taken to get trainers back into the water with Killer Whales, one year after Tilikum, one of the captive Orcas in their Orlando park, killed a trainer (see my blogs in February, 2010). He says that they have spent tens of millions of dollars on safety equipment to protect the trainers, as well as on 'retraining' the Orcas. All this is being done despite findings by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)that Sea World was reckless in allowing humans into the water with the Killer Whales: a finding Sea World is currently fighting.

The tragedy in all this goes far beyond the caring and talented woman who died last year doing what she loved;

-beyond the magnificent creatures doomed to spend foreshortened lives in tiny concrete tanks performing stupid animal tricks;

-beyond the gawking audiences who are either oblivious to, or apathetic about, the physical hardships and mental anguish these animals suffer;

-beyond the employees of these parks who mean well and do not intentionally inflict harm upon their captives;

-beyond the owners and management of these parks who must answer to their shareholders who expect a positive return on their investment;

Sadly, the greatest tragedy in all this is that we as human beings have deceived ourselves into believing that we are the only intelligent, sentient beings on this planet; and that we have the God-given right to do anything we want, whenever we want, to the earth, and to the skies, and to the seas.

As I wrote in my morality tale, 'The Tempest's Roar',"...when we have all been dead ten thousand years, there will be nothing left to mark our passing except barren lands and empty seas; and in between on lonely shores, living stones will cry out in silence the three words that will serve as our collective epitaph; Arrogance, Intolerance and Stupidity."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Fourth Monkey

Many of you recognized the proverbial principle of the three wise monkeys in the previous posting. Some of you know that the source of this maxim is a 17th century carving over a door in the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan. The three monkeys are Mizaru, who holds his hands over his eyes and sees no evil; Kikazaru, who covers his ears and hears no evil; and Iwazaru, who holds his hands over his mouth and speaks no evil. However, what you may not know is that there is actually a fourth monkey. His name is Shizaru, and he holds his arms across his chest to symbolize that he does no evil.

That said, the answer to the riddle is that none of the three monkeys were allowed into heaven. In a telling twist of fate, the fourth monkey was also on the bus and he too was killed but unlike the other three he was welcomed into heaven. The reason is that he never, ever went to the sea park: he knew that by paying money to see the Killer Whale perform stupid and demeaning tricks reinforced the evil behavior of the cruel and greedy humans who owned the park.

Please remember this parable the next time you think about going to a sea park where Killer Whales are held captive. It is not enough to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil; you must do no evil.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Riddle of the Three Monkeys and the Killer Whale

One day, three monkeys went to an oceanarium. They sat down on a bench in front of a tank in which a Killer Whale was swimming in mindless circles and being made to perform stupid and demeaning tricks.

The first monkey whose name was, See No Evil, believed that it was cruel to keep such a magnificent creature imprisoned in a tiny tank where it would die long before its time. So he kept his eyes covered so that he would not have to witness the Killer Whale's mental anguish and humiliation.

The second monkey, whose name was Hear No Evil, liked looking at the Killer Whale: he had fun when he came to the sea park and didn't want to listen to what the first monkey was saying so he kept his ears covered.

The third monkey whose name was Speak No Evil knew a human who worked as a trainer at the oceanarium; his friend told him that everything the first monkey said was true: but he was afraid that the evil men who owned the sea park would fire his friend if he said anything so he kept his mouth covered.

The next day these three monkeys were riding in a bus that was hit by a truck and all three were all killed. Which monkey do you think got into heaven?

For the answer you'll have to wait until the next posting...

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Voice of God?

Scientists believe that there is a lone baleen whale somewhere out there in the oceans of our world whose song is so low that others of its kind cannot hear it. This unique whalesong was first recorded by hydrophones in 1989 at a frequency of 51.75Hz, which is just above the lowest note on a tuba, and has been tracked many times since. The scientists say that baleen whales, such as blue, fin, and humpback, communicate with each other using sound between 12 and 25Hz, and they conclude that this whale, whom they have named 52Hz, must be all alone, without friends, or family, or a mate because it sings so low.

However, I submit that there may be another explanation: perhaps, just perhaps, we are not the only intelligent and sentient beings on this tiny blue space marble who believe in and pray to a Supreme Being; and if you are willing to suspend disbelief and accept this notion, then maybe what the hydrophones are picking up is not whalesong, but the voice of God.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Offshore Orcas Eat Sharks

In my novel, The Tempest's Roar, I wrote the following:

"Pan knew there are three types of Killer Whales that roam the seas; the first, are a noisy and sociable group who eat only fish. Man calls them Resident Orcas. The second type is reclusive and far more dangerous to other beings than sharks. This is because they eat only mammals, including other beings, in direct violation of the Fifth Commandment. These cannibals are called Transient Orcas and they are the pariahs of whalekind. Much is known among beings and man about both these types of Killer Whales. However, this is not the case with the third type of Orca, for they are a breed apart. They live far out in deep, bluewater and never interbreed with the other two types. And there is one major difference compared to the other kinds of Orcas, which is that although this third type occasionally kill and eat mammals like seals, walruses and sea lions, they never, ever eat other beings. In fact, their preferred prey are sharks. Man refers to this third kind as Offshore Orcas, and they are a fierce and noble breed best left alone by man."

As far as I knew there was no evidence to support this, however, something told me that it was true so I took poetic license and made the statement. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I read that this was indeed the case, as you can see from this excerpt from a January 17, 2011 article by Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun:

Headline: Orcas off B.C's coast love the taste of shark.

"A mysterious population of offshore killer whales in B.C. are specialists at killing sharks — to the detriment of their teeth — marine scientists have discovered in a landmark study.
Scientists have long known that resident killer whales depend on fish, especially salmon, and that transient killer whales exist on marine mammals such as seals and sea lions.
But the diet of offshore killer whales — first identified on the B.C. coast in 1989 — has remained largely a mystery due to their wide-ranging and distant movements."

I offer this to hopefully induce you to read The Tempest's Roar, which is available in both soft cover and as an e-book at leading on-line booksellers. I think you will find it an enjoyable read. Its central message is to highlight the damage mankind is doing to the oceans and, in particular, to enlist support for all save the whales organizations. To that end I will donate any and all royalties that I receive from the sales of this book to these organizations up to the first $10,000 I receive, and possibly even far beyond that. So please buy the book.