Japan: Whaling Tradition, Dolphin Slaughter, & Outrage

You probably heard the news that Japan has sent out a whaling fleet–targets include the protected humpback whale. The uproar, beyond the cruelty and obsolete need for products from whales, is that the Humpback whale has been habituated to humans and it has taken 40 years for the species to recover…still not back to the former numbers but improved. It is also thought that due to their age a majority of current animals will not have a memory of whaling.

One of the reasons cited as necessary for taking the whales is the need for scientific data. In the past, inaccurate information on whales was collected from dead animals. I have one book that was considered a good text back in the 1970s which is now obsolete–data was from dead and stranded animals.

I remember you could purchase ambergris (from the sperm whale) and whale oil. This blog has a short commentary on the perfume making from ambergris.

Early in my career I led whale watch trips during a time whaling was still legal. We fought hard to bring an end to whaling in the mid-1970s and had some success but 1986 a ban was put in place.

Many of the animals you see in the oceanariums today were caught by the fishermen who also rented their boats out for whale watch trips–educating tons of school children and adults about the whales and their value.

They helped us to educate and motivate people to care about marine life. Today, the outrage over captive animal overshadows any activities to clean up the ocean and take any real conservation steps. Now we have some nastier issues to face again.

Didn’t we just do this in the last 30 years?

Japan actually has a whaling association that lists a minor history of whaling but this story about Japanese whaling release by the Associated Press has interesting visual descriptions and links of interest.

The recent uproar over whaling is interesting to me because the Japanese have been engaging in whaling efforts for ages. Here is an article announcing the annual beaked whale slaughter (dolphins are included) but I didn’t hear any uproar about it…it happens annually. The following videos will disturb you but they are something you should see.

The following video is bad but I have to also point out that our own livestock harvesting is a dismal process. To view this video you may have to verify that you are an adult.

Harvesting the ocean has been done for centuries–one big OTHER problem is our blatant pollution and disrespect of our environment. It is killing more sea life and making it unsafe for not only the animals that live there, but for humans who spend time in recreation in the water.

Okay, one last video similar to the one not available to everyone for viewing–it is edited more and narrated by Matt Damon.

Where do you draw the line? What actions are you taking to make things better?

Here is a link to petition online as a start…

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