Please, save the whales
Source : Google photo of slaughter of whales in Europe.
Synopsis : The commercial killing of whales, whale sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures goes on unabated in spite of the whole world condemning such brutal acts because many countries insist that it is their tradition and the livelihood of many fishermen depends on it but does it? This blog looks at the slaughter and suggests ways to stop it to save all the whales and dolphins that are being decimated in the name of profit.
When I went to Japan, I was shocked to see the super markets openly selling whale meat that they fry for you to take home. They also sell dolphin meat and other sea food that the Japanese are so fond of. I found no awareness among the Japanese that killing the precious whales and other mammals for food is immoral and unethical because killing them has drastically reduced their numbers that they cannot recover from easily.
There has been a worldwide cry to save the whales and stop this brutal practice in Japan and elsewhere so there has been a moratorium proposed on killing them so the Japanese say that they kill the whales for “research purposes” only but fail to show what research they have done so far or what is it they are trying to find out.
The killed whales end up in the supermarket but that seems to be of no concern to them or the Japanese government. They say that it is a part of their culture since ancient times so they are not going to stop killing whales for whatever purpose any time soon no matter what the world opinion is.
In the meantime the slaughter goes on unabated. The whales stand no chance of survival when big ships are used equipped with powerful harpoons and whale tracking devises. These large ships are fitted with winches that haul up the dead or injured whales easily up their specially constructed ramps where the butchers go to work quickly on the still alive whales and freeze dry the meat to be unloaded to the trucks waiting at the port of call. They do not mention what research they do while they are killing the whales.
The whales are the most passive plankton eating mammals that in spite of their size never harm a soul. You can even caress a whale while they look with love in their eyes. They are extremely intelligent animals and known to help drowning people by steering them ashore or to shallow waters. They shed tears when hurt and show compassion to other animals.
They also breed very infrequently so it is all the more important to stop this barbaric practice of hunting them for food by some nations. But whale hunting has been practiced since a long time by many countries where it was a thriving business. The whale bones were used to make stays for women’s garments and some artisans carved the bones into intricate pieces like they still do with ivory. The fat was used to make oil or make wax for candles in the olden days.
The Eskimos still kill whales for the meat it provides them but they are restricted to kill a fixed number each year and are penalized if they kill more. The Japanese have no such restrictions and routinely ignore the plea of the International Whaling Commission that has no regulatory power that Japan recognizes although many countries abide.
Source : Google photo of slaughter of dolphins in Japan
Now let me mention the dolphins. In Japan there is a bay where large numbers of dolphins are herded into by fast motorized boats and then clubbed to death by the butchers. The whole bay turns red with the blood of the poor animals that cry for help but can’t escape. It is so sickening to watch that you must never go there if you have an ounce of sympathy for these gentle creatures left in you. You will cry and feel sick at such massive slaughter of dolphins in a country that claims to be a civilized country with ancient traditions and history. They claim that their tradition including whale and dolphin hunting keep it going even today.
Source : Google photo of slaughter of whale shark in Pakistan
In the Arabic ocean near the western shore of India you will see scores of fishermen in their dinghys or small boats hunting for the whale sharks. The whale shark is another example of the inhumanity that is heaped on them by people who see nothing wrong in killing them for money.
They harpoon these slow moving giants but the harpoons are attached with inflated goat skin balloons .The whale shark tries to get away but the large number of inflated balloons create a tremendous drag on the poor animal so it soon gets very tired and waits helplessly to be killed.
Source : Google photo of whale shark in Donsol, Philippines
If you ever see a whale shark, you will know why they are called the gentle giants. They never attack a fisherman and one can touch them in Donsol, Sorsogon in the Philippines where they congregate at a certain time when the krill is abundant. In Donsol fishermen used to kill them but now the killing has stopped due to stringent government regulations so the tourists go there in large numbers to see and touch the whale sharks. This has increased the tourism that the small town benefits from so new hotels and lodges have sprung up there for them where the fishermen have become tour guides.
Alas this is not true in India where the poor creatures are still hunted by the fishermen using their primitive and very cruel but effective methods due to lack of government regulations or the poor implementations of the laws.
I appreciate the effort made here in the Philippines to save these wonderful creatures and bring tourism benefits to poor fishermen who now take the tourists in their boats to show them the whale sharks.
The only NGO that tries to save the whales and whale sharks and dolphins are the Green Peace people who have their own ships that follow the Japanese whale hunting ships and try to prevent them from killing the whales but they are chased away by the Japanese ships that use powerful water hose on them.
Every single whale they save from the Japanese is a triumph for them because it ensures the survival of the whales but they do not succeed all the time and face tremendous challenges due to shortage of funds and constant threats from the Japanese whaling ships that try to ram them or chase them away with water hoses.
Did you know that it was the FAO of the UN that developed the mile long nets that some ships use to trawl the ocean? These nets are so destructive that catch anything indiscriminately in the ocean that depletes the ocean stocks of fish , mammals or anything that comes its way. Later the fishermen dump into the ocean all the catch they can’t sell causing massive loss of life needlessly.
The NGOs have pressured the operators to abandon this destructive practice but who listens to them? We get millions of tons of food from the ocean that is brought ashore by millions of fishermen whose livelihood depends on the catch. These are small fishermen with their small primitive boats so they do minimum damage to the ocean stocks. They release immediately anything they catch that they cannot find any value in so they do not kill the ocean creatures needlessly but the big ships with mile long nets are a very different story.
The small fishermen do not catch whales and dolphins although I did mention the practice of catching and killing of whale sharks in the Arabian Sea near the west coast of India and Pakistan earlier. That practice needs to stop but who stops them?
Then we have ocean parks in some countries where the captured dolphins and Orcas are taught to play tricks for the tourists who snap photos furiously and clap their hands pleased with their antics.
Little do they realize that these are ocean living creatures that are kept in captivity in restricted enclosures suffering tremendous stress and have attacked their trainers and killed them in Florida not too long ago. There has been an outcry from concerned people to release them into the oceans where they are most happy because after all they are wild animals but who listens?
When the motivation is purely money then the animals are kept in captivity and displayed to the public that buys expensive tickets. It is really no different from the zoos all over the world where the wild animals captured from Africa and elsewhere are displayed purely for the purpose of making money. The welfare of these animals is least of their concern. When an animal dies of grief and loneliness, another one is brought in.
So I will come back to the issue of whales. They can’t be captured and brought in to be placed in water tanks because no tank can be big enough for such large creatures so they are killed in the ocean for the meat or for “research purposes” by the Japanese but they are not the only culprits. Many countries in Europe and other parts hunt whale commercially and ignore the cries of people everywhere to ban to practice. They say that their livelihood depends on it.
The smaller animals like seals, orcas or the dolphins do not fare well either because they are easily captured and kept in restricted ponds or tanks where they are taught some tricks in return for food so these poor animals understand that they can’t escape and the only source of food comes from their trainers so they resign themselves to live in captivity.
When they are free in the ocean, they do not depend on anyone to find their food. The largest of them like whales only eat plankton and krill that are found in abundance. They are by nature not aggressive although books like Moby Dick by Herman Melville puts them in a bad light and show that whales can be aggressive.
By reading this article I want you to understand that what we do to these animals is not only harmful, it is outright immoral and a great abuse so if you are a Japanese, stop eating whale and dolphin meat. That will put pressure of the whalers not to kill the whales because the market for its meat will dry up so they will have no economic incentive to continue this dreadful practice. There are very healthy alternatives to whale meat. The ocean is full of other fish that reproduce faster than whales so catching them does not deplete the ocean.
Please help stop the slaughter of dolphins in the Japanese bays because there are other easier alternatives and tastier foods than dolphin meat.
Please boycott the Ocean parks where Orcas, dolphins and sea lions are kept in captivity just to make money. They should all be immediately released in the ocean where they belong. Such boycott will put these Ocean Parks out of business.
Please boycott the zoos all over the world where wild animals , reptiles and birds are kept in captivity where they are so unhappy. You must see their unhappiness and realize that it is wrong to keep them in captivity just to please you so that you can buy expensive tickets that makes the zoo keeper rich.
Please petition to private people who keep elephants in captivity for fifty years or sell them to the circus so that they can release them in the forest where they belong. It has been reported that some elephants are so enraged that they break free and run causing mayhem, destruction and even death.
Caged Chimpanzees have been known to attack and kill their handlers in zoos and tigers and lions have been known to kill their feeders in some zoos.
When I was posted in El Obeid in Sudan, I saw the caged lions in the park there. The kids used to poke them with sticks through the iron bars all the time that no one stopped them from doing including their parents. It enraged the lions to no end so literally you could see the anger and anguish in their eyes because they could not protect themselves. The stress often kills the wild animals.
When I was a kid, I got a green pigeon from somewhere so I put it in a cage and was upset when my eldest sister released it quietly but now I know that she was an activist and did not like to see a wild bird suffer in a cage so she did the right thing. No wild creatures deserve to be captured or killed so we all can take small steps in saving them by making the next generation aware and become conscious of their sufferings. Collectively we can bring about the changes necessary to preserve them because once they are gone, they are not coming back.
Do you want to live in such a world? Do you want the future generations only to read about them in their books? Can you not learn anything from the fishermen of Donsol?
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