Whale on the Beach

A dead Pilot whale was found on the beach south of Trinidad (a small town north of Eureka) on Monday. Apparently this type of whale does not usually frequent these waters, so it seems the poor guy was a little off course. The Eureka Times-Standard“> has an article about it and a gory slide show of Humboldt State biologist hacking it up. When a whale is beached it presents a rare opportunity for biologist to study these giant creatures. One reason the international moratorium on whaling should not be suspended is because researchers have very little knowledge of whale populations numbers and whales in general. A very close friend of mine works for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and she has increased my knowledge of cetaceans greatly.

Meanwhile it seems ships are killing an average of one blue whale per week in Southern California! LA Times“> has more.

2 Responses to “Whale on the Beach”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Shankar… Not sure if I’m allowed to reply so late in the day but sitting here manning the visitor centre gives me time to respond properly.

    Conservation of cetaceans is filled with emotion, many people feel a strong empathy towards these mammals and this has been seen throughout history. Of course they have also been used by humans in many ways as food, corset stays and sources of enjoyment both in the wild and captivity.

    In our own little community on the North East coast of Scotland a Sperm Whale stranded nearby and gave us all something to talk about for a few weeks.

    I’ll admit that I went to visit the carcass with a sense of excitement – having never seen a Sperm Whale or any animal approaching such massive size before. However seeing it dead on the beach, it’s tail still swayed by the incoming tide an eerie death throw, there was just a great sense of sadness – however much I try to distance myself from this to help argue with logic on planning committees and with fishermen and not with emotion – you cannot help but be humbled and amazed by these massive strangers.

    This whale had an extra sadness, overnight a group of fisherman had stolen it’s jaw – it was in a gory state. The story goes that it’s good luck for a fisherman to have a sperm whale tooth for their fishing the next year (of course there is also a lot of money to be made by selling this illegally as ‘scrimshaw’ (an old whaling art of carving the ivory teeth of the whales – but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt). A quick visit from our local bobby soon found the jaw and some rather bloody locals who admitted their jeep was full of whale blood and would never smell the same and their chainsaw was totally buggered!

    The happy ending? There was a necropsy – proving the whale to be severely undernourished. The carcass was chopped up and taken to the knackers yard. I am the proud owner of the upper jaw as you know – which I hope will be exhibited here in the coming years AND the lower jaw went to the Museum of Edinburgh with a couple of teeth donated back to said fishermen. I think they may need more than a whale tooth to bring the fish stocks back up in the North Sea though.

    You have your own case going on in the US

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003926767_whale05m.html

    A group of 5 whalers from the Makah tribe decided to go an illegal hunt as they got frustrated by the length of time it took to make decisions about licences and quotas. They are now in court…

    ‘The tribe has a right to whale, guaranteed in its treaty of 1855 with the U.S. government. Whaler Wayne Johnson has said he was tired of waiting for the waiver, and decided to go out and hunt a whale, as his ancestors always had, and as the treaty allows.

    Johnson has said repeatedly since the hunt that he didn’t regret his actions. But he was more circumspect Thursday.

    “I got three counts against me,” Johnson said. “I’m a little worried, of course.”‘

    Poses interesting questions about what makes a culture and who should pay the price for our exploitation of the seas

  2. shankarwolf Says:

    Anonymous Scotswoman,
    Your questions concerning cultural practices squelched by capalism’s relentless extraction of natural resources in the name of prophit interests me. Are there other examples, like the whaling where this has happened?

    Thanks for the thoughtful words.

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