Monday, November 19, 2007

Magical Melodies And The Songs Of Pain.

"A Japanese whaling fleet has set sail aiming to harpoon humpback whales for the first time in decades. The fleet is conducting its largest hunt in the South Pacific - it has instructions to kill up to 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks." - BBC News Nov 18 2007

Have you ever heard the songs that whales sing? You can listen to them here and you will realise that they sing some of the most beautiful songs on Earth. The songs are an amazing phenomenon, highly structured and at any one time, all the males sing the same songs using the same sounds arranged in the same pattern. These haunting songs travel many kilometres and can even be heard above the surface and consists of intricate vocalisations ranging from high squeaks to low growls, with many at a frequency so low that they are inaudible to humans.

The Singer of The Sea - the endangered humpback whale - produces the most varied songs in the animal world, with each lasting 10-15 minutes and can be repeated without pause, for hours. The largest of the whales, the blue whale, can sing for 10 hours.

But the songs they sing, with the latest announcement by Japan, will no longer be songs of joy but of pain.

“If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck in its stomach and being made to pull a butcher's truck through the streets of London while its blood pours into the gutter, we shall have an idea of the method of killing whales." - "Troubled Waters," a March 2004 report by Whale Watch.

The main method of killing whales is insanely inhuman and cruel. Using a grenade-tipped harpoon fired from a cannon mounted on the brow of a ship, the harpoon penetrates about 30cm into the whale before detonation. The aim is to kill the animal through neuro-trauma induced by the blast-generated pressure waves of the explosion. And if this fails, which is more often the case, a second harpoon is fired.

Given their sheer mass, complex vascular systems, their adaptations for diving and the constantly moving environment of the sea, killing them swiftly is impossible. Whales, when hit with an exploding harpoon, can take up to an hour or more before dying with the majority likely to suffer a slow and painful death.

In the Faroes Islands, whole families of whales - including pregnant mothers, lactating females, youngsters and foetuses - are butchered by the islanders in a carnival-like atmosphere. Islanders in motorboats first drive and round-up the terrified and confused whales into a shallow bay where the bloodbath begins.

The islanders repeatedly jab 2.2 kg metal poles into the living flesh of each whale until the hooks hold. A 15 cm knife is then used to slash through the blubber and flesh to the spinal column followed by the severing of the main blood vessels. The blood-stained bay is soon filled with horribly mutilated and dying whales, screaming in agony.

Despite a worldwide ban since 1986, about 30,000 whales have been killed by the 3 whaling nations - Japan and Iceland under the guise of "scientific research"- while the meat and by-products from the slaughtered whales are sold for profit - and by Norway as commercial hunt. The numbers of whales killed in recent years are among the highest since the moratorium went into effect and they continue to increase.

More shockingly, this unsanctioned killing is happening in the protected waters of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean Marine Sanctuary, blatantly defying international law. Japan and Iceland ability to continue hunting whales with such blatant disregard for international law is because they are exploiting a loophole in the international ban that permits killing whales in the name of scientific research. But the painful slaughter of whales is totally unnecessary as it does not benefit science, whales or people.

Despite claims of killing whales in the name of science, Japanese whaling isn’t about science at all and is simply commercial whaling in disguise.

Non-lethal methods to study whales already exist such as photo identification, tagging, DNA analysis and observation experiments. Data from satellite tagging of whales, harmless skin biopsies and fluke identification has already yielded valuable information about the migration patterns of whales, without a single harpoon being fired. In fact, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has clearly stated it does not need the data obtained from killing whales and has passed forty-one resolutions critical of Japan’s research whaling program.

As a food source, it is a known fact that whale meat is often extremely toxic and is dangerous to eat. Whales accumulate environmental pollutants that bond with their blubber, such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and dioxin, and also heavy metals such as methylmercury. The effects on humans who consume contaminated whale meat or blubber include cancer, nerve damage, reproductive and developmental disorders, immune system suppression and liver damage, to name a few.

With the whales' natural low reproductive rates and already facing long-term debilitating effects on their communication, social behaviour and foraging habits arising from chemical pollution, noise pollution, increasing shipping traffic and oil and gas exploration, it is imperative that all governments condemn and stop the needless slaughter of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway, with the ultimate objective of banning this barbaric practice entirely. A complete and permanent ban would also stop the exploitation of the loophole in International Whaling Commission rules and exceptions by the pro-whaling nations.

These majestic cetaceans are the largest animals that have ever existed, far larger than any dinosaur that have roamed the Earth and are highly evolved animals with a complex social life. Whales are sensitive, social animals - they call out to each other over the vast expanses of the oceans - with highly developed nervous systems and have a profound capacity to suffer distress, terror and pain. The killing of whales is unjust, terribly inhuman and has no place in modern civilised society.

Living whales are far more valuable to us and a joy to behold. We should allow them to sing their songs of joy again.

*Sources :
- Whale Trust
- Whale Watch
- Stop Whaling
- Green Peace
- Humane Society of United States

*Catch the latest updates about Japan's whaling mission :
- GlobalNewsBlogger

*Related post : Man And The Loss Of Biodiversity


Tony said...

Hi again,
You've done your research well, this is a great article and the more we can publish these articles we are contributing to making others aware of this terrible situation.

I'm following the greenpeace ships progress daily and am updating my blog once a week on that until they reach the fishing grounds.

I was also reading greenpeace international and they published the findings of previous research done by the japanese on these whales in the past and pretty much all of the results were "inconclusive" which again proves there is absolutely no need for this kind of research.

Great article and I will be linking to it specifically in my next post,thanks.


clairec23 said...

Another great article highlighting these atrocities. I'm really happy that there are still people in the world that care about other species.

My Den said...

Hi Tony,
Thanks. The killings are just..senseless and the pro-whaling nations esp. Japan has lied to the public for far too long. It must end.

Looking at the synergy between you and me, i had just created an discussion thread over at Blog Catalog, hopefully it will generate additional awareness.

Hi clairec23,
You are right, these killings have no place in a civilised modern world and one must remember that whales have evolved to become animals that are highly social with the ability to feel pain with their complex nervous system.

Tony said...

Hi all,
Good point Claire, I have wrote a small update with a link to this article.
I will be adding more later in the week, i'm also looking for a decent thumbnail picture of a humpback whale if you can help me out.
The pictures I have noticed to make the articles more interesting and also make people realise that these huge creatures are quite graceful and amazing to watch.

Tony said...

Hi all,
Thought i'd pop back and see if there was any updates.
I've been following the greenpeace ships log but it's all quiet at the moment, i'm sure it's just the lull before the storm as they say.
I posted an article today about a Minke whale getting stranded in the Amazon over 1,000 off it's original course and it made me think of the whales which will suffer if the Japanese get their way.
So far that I know there are at least 4 countries publicly announcing their against this whaling expedition and asking the Japanese to call it all off, they are UK,Australie,USA and New Zealand.
Apparently it's also come to light that the Japanese were using this so called research trip to get the moratorium lifted, I don't think so.
Will check back with you later in the week, happy thanksgiving.


Tony said...

Hi all,
Just thought i'd give you an update,the greenpeace ship is still working it's way to meet the whales, still quiet.
I wanted to let you know about the latest item in the news which is the Japanese introducing whale meat curries in restaurants.
It's a bit like giving the rest of the world some proof that it's not about research at all and confirms everything everyone else said about it being for commercialism.
What is even more annoying is that the sellers of the meat are backed by the Japanese government.

By the way I just stumbled your latest article, great info.


My Den said...

Hi Tony,
Thanks for the update and sorry that i missed your earlier comment on the 21 Nov.

The whole sorry episode speaks volumes abt monetary considerations over the needless slaughter of the whales. Whale meat, i gathered, is part of Japanese cuisine but the strangest part is that even though it has been proven that whale meat is toxic, the Japanese still consumes it.

Thks a lot for the stumble and happy holidays to you too!

dano said...

I am utterly disgusted each time I see how whales are killed for profit. Keep up the good job!

My Den said...

Killing whales is a senseless and cruel act and there are actually no reasons for doing so, not for research nor for human consumption.

Thanks for dropping by. Regards.