Seriously. As late as the 1970′s, Australia and the United States were amongst the whaling nations. After even the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which is a pro-whaling organization, called for a moratorium on killing whales, nearly all nations stopped the activity.
Why? What changed? We became to clever, too capable of killing. Where once it was a dangerous and courageous act to go out into the oceans in pursuit of a whale, perhaps kill one or two, men developed power boats and explosive-charged harpoons fired from 50-caliber guns… and the whale populations went from millions to a few hundred thousand in half a century.
Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, describes the scenario in her book, “The World Is Blue (How our fate and the oceans’ are one).” After millions of years of being the apex predator, the supreme beings of the sea, along comes man, figures out how to make things (fuel and gunpowder) explode, and throws off the entire natural order of things in the ocean by invading their world, by killing off beings as smart and long-lived as we are, as though they were a prey species.
Today there are still a few commercial whaling nations. Japan, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Indonesia, Norway and Russia all still defy the IWC moratorium. There are still some whales being killed with permit by indigenous people in the U.S. as well. And amongst those nations is the concern “What will happen to us, to our whalers, if we no longer kill dolphins and whales?” Well, where have all the whalers gone from the other whaling nations?
The slack was quickly picked up by other more harmonious maritime occupations. Taiji’s fishermen might actually go catch fish, for example. Or take people out on whale-watching tours. Or transport goods. The argument is vapid. What did all the railroad workers do when airplanes caught on? What did the plantation owners do once slavery was outlawed? They found other jobs, and other ways. Though we humans tend to fear change, we can and do adapt. If we stop killing whales (and perhaps ONLY if we stop killing whales) life will go on.
Is that hyperbole? No, it’s not. Taking out an apex predator has far-reaching and profound impacts on the rest of the living beings around them. Without their natural predators, prey populations first balloon, then starve down to dangerously low numbers. Everything that eats those fish, squid, and plankton are likewise affected — us included. Our fate is inextricably linked to that of the ocean and her inhabitants.
Where have all the whalers gone? Gone to other jobs, every one… and the world is a far better place for it. Now we need to stop the rest of the killing, so that the natural order of things, so that natural balances can return. We can take from the ocean, but we cannot strip and rape it as we have been doing, running roughshod over it with reckless abandon. The ocean cannot survive that… nor can we.
To get a better understanding of the ways in which our fate is linked to that of the ocean without making a carbon footprint, download a copy of Dr. Sylvia Earle’s “The World Is Blue.” If you prefer a hard copy, you can click here to order that instead. By following either link, Protect The Ocean gains a small percentage from the sale, and you gain a much larger perspective of the world!
Whaling and Whale Protection – Two more very worthwhile recommendations: