April 7, 2011
Save our Whales, End Whale Hunting
Whales, often called “the Ocean’s gentle giant” are one of the biggest species/mammals that spend their entire life in the ocean. The smallest known whale is the “Minke” which, by adulthood is only 8.5 feet long; the largest known whale is the “Blue whale”, which measures 94.5 feet long. Since the ancient times, people have written about encounters with this mammal. Ancient Roman and Greek artists inspired by the dolphin’s apparent intelligence and kindness to humans began to adopt dolphin motifs on vases, coins, mosaics, sculptures, and paintings. Even Arstotle (384 – 322 bc) spoke about a variety of different whales and identified them as mammals (Carwardine, Hoyt, Fordyce, & Gill, 1998). Whale hunting can be traced back 1,000 years. Many communities consisted of hunt whalers. These hunters would kill one whale, which would feed the entire population over the course of winter. Every part of the whale would be used: fat for oil, bones for furniture and tools, skin for shoelaces, and the blood was used as fertilizer. For centuries, whales were used as a source of food, never over hunted, whales continued to thrive in the oceans, until the mid-nineteenth century when Svend Foyn invented the “explosive harpoon” which started the whaling industry (as we know it now). It is said (Carwardine, Hoyt, Fordyce, & Gill, 1998), “that he is responsible for the deaths of more whales than anyone in the business” (page 38). What was once a mammal used to feed a group of people (during the winter months), has now become a mammal that is considered nothing more than a commodity. This paper will discuss the intelligence of whales, commercial whale hunting practices, and why whale hunting (whether commercial, or under the pretense: scientific research) needs to end. The Intelligence of Whales
Studies conducted on captures whales show that they can learn human gestures and words, and can change their behavior or responses depending upon instructions. What was interesting is that learned information is passed down from one whale to another. Like humans and apes, whales are caregivers. They live in close knitted family units and take care of one another. Each unit or pod has it own unique “song”, or communication pattern and tone. This enables whales to recognize each member, and different pods/groups. Because of their unique bond, and care giving ability, whales will not leave a sick member. Instead the entire group cares and protects it until it is healthy enough to care for itself. There have been instances where a whale becomes beached, and the entire pod gets involves to rescue or come to its aid; only to find themselves beached. Whales have the ability to solve complex problems. An example is how they have learned to spy-hop, popping their head out of the water, in order to see the location of seal on a piece of ice. Evidence has shown whales, calling group members, and working together in order to get their prey. Though rarely seen, there is footage of a group of older whales having a training session with the younger ones. Because these behaviors are learned( not instinctive), it proved that whales are highly intelligent (Carwardine, Hoyt, Fordyce, & Gill, 1998). Statistics
Once abundant in our oceans, “The Northern Blue Whale” has been hunted to near extinction. It is thought that no more than 350 of these creatures exist today, and researchers do not believe that their numbers will ever increase, due to reproduction rates, hunting and the effects of pollution. The “Minke whale” is found in the Northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and migrate upwards to West Greenland. Not only is the Minke one of the smallest whales, but it is the second smallest, in terms of population. In 1995, a large scale survey was done using ships and planes; on three known (stocks)...