Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World is a Vampire...

If you watch Whale Wars on Animal Planet you'll recognize
the title of this post and can guess what my topic is.

Whale Wars follows the Sea Shepherd as they try and stop the Japanese from killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary located down by Antarctica. This whale sanctuary was established in 1994 with the goal to ban commercial whaling. Twenty three countries agreed to stop whaling there. Japan opposed the sanctuary. They get around this banned activity by saying that they kill whales for research purposes and formed the organization JARPA, Japan's Scientific Whaling Research Program. They have a fleet of six ships, four harpoon ships, a processing ship and a security ship prowling this sanctuary in the name of research.


I abhor whaling. I don't understand why anyone would want to kill one of those gentle giants. As an animal lover I find it reprehensible that these mammals are being slaughtered in our oceans. I suppose you could call me a hypocrite because I'm a meat eater. I enjoy beef, pork, poultry and seafood but I cannot eat veal or lamb. Again call me a hypocrite.


I do understand the whole concept of hunting as long as people are doing it for food and not just sport. In my little corner of the world we'd be over run with white tail deer if not for hunting. Do I eat venison? No. When I see a deer in my backyard looking at me I can't imagine killing such an innocent creature. I'm a huge proponent of animal rights and hate to see and hear about animals being mistreated and abused but as far as a food source, I can't be a vegetarian. I just can't. I eat animals that are raised for human consumption. Does that mean I don't care about animals? No. Call me a hypocrite.
Whales have been hunted for centuries by many nations and yes I understand that it's part of their heritage and culture but most modern day countries have put an end to it. In colonial days the United States did hunt whales. The first ships left Nantucket in 1712 in search for the sperm whale. This was the whale of choice for the spermaceti, a waxy oil found in the large head cavity of this whale. The oil was used for lighting, lubricating oil, candles and the bones were used for household objects and whalebone corsets. Whaling declined in the 1850's with the invention of the oil well. Oil was pumped from under ground, refined into kerosene and other oils which in turned caused a reduction in the demand for whale oil. The U.S. officially stopped whaling in 1940. Some nations still whale today, Japan being one of them. I'll concentrate on Japanese whaling because they seem to be in the public eye more than others.
Japan began hand harpooning whales as early as the 12th century. I'm sure it was very dangerous for the hunters and I'm guessing that sometimes the whale won the battle. Not so today.
These look like some sort of weapon on an air craft carrier but they're not...

they're high powered harpoons used for impaling whales. They have four large hinged barbs behind an explosive harpoon head, are six feet long and 120 pounds of steel. They also use fragmentation harpoons that send shards of metal into the whale's body, severing major nerves and arteries. Believe it or not these don't always do the job.

If the whale is still alive they will shoot it with a high powered rifle. I saw on an episode of Whale Wars a whale being shot multiple times before it finally died.

It's a messy way to kill something and hardly humane.

After the whale is dead it is roped by the fluke and dragged up a slipway into the mother ship, a technique first used by the Japanese in 1925.

Once inside it is butchered and packaged all in the name of "doing research". Now you tell me what kind of research needs to be done on a dead whale that can't be done on a live whale. Supposedly they determine the age and diet of the whale. Baloney! You can find out everything you could ever want to know about all different kinds of whales on the internet.
To give you some background on the modern history of whale meat; after WWII whale was the main source of protein for the citizens of Japan. People couldn't afford beef or pork and whale became a common meal. Today you can find whale meat in restaurants and in cans on the grocery store shelves.

Many people are strongly against the practice a whaling such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. The leader of Sea Shepherd is Paul Watson one of the founders of Greenpeace who splintered off from the group in 1977 due to a rift in ideals. Watson thought they weren't doing enough to save whales and started his own group, Sea Shepherd, a more radical sect. They have two ships, one originally was called the Robert Hunter that was later changed to the Steve Irwin in a fitting tribute of Irwin's commitment and conservation of animals everywhere. Their newest ship is named the Bob Barker; Barker of The Price is Right is a huge supporter of animal rights and donated 5 million to the Sea Shepherd organization to purchase this ship and help with the cost of their helicopter. I don't really think that Sea Shepherd is doing a whole lot to discourage Japanese whaling. They are certainly out numbered and out powered by the Japanese whaling fleet. It seems like they're like a pesky gnat that won't leave them alone but they still get their job done. I admire the passion of these crew members who dedicate their lives to the protection of these beautiful, social creatures.

Check this out for more information on whaling. There's an especially good post dated March 12, 2010 entitled Whaling Business Jolted by Enemy Within
To read more on the Japanese postition of whaling go here.


When I am Rich said...

In response to your last post 'Gentle Giants' you are so lucky! I've never seen a whale in the wild (dolphins & porpoises, yes, but not their big cousins). It's an experience that's on my wish list.
Surely the only thing that's going to stop the Japanese whaling fleet is pressure from its own country - not foreigners. While enough people buy whale meat to make the industry profitable it will have a reason to continue.
Although Sea Shepherd and other animal welfare groups can't save all the individual whales from slaughter, the publicity they generate must be a good thing.
Education is the answer. If you tell people they mustn't do something just because you don't think it's right they will be even more determined to do it. If, on the other hand, you give them access to the facts without preaching at them, they might change their minds. That's what happened in all the countries that have banned whaling.