Muzzle of a humpback whale that sidled up to the boat I was on in the Stellwagon Banks off the coast of Boston, 1991. Three whales spent about two hours lounging around the boat, one of them lifting her snout up to the gunwhale and letting people stroke her chin, while her son did cartwheels among the waves just off the bow of the boat. The skin felt like wetsuit rubber and the breath, especially when she sneezed globs of fish and krill slobber all over my brother, was, let’s just say, “overwhelming”.
I came across this article last night, about Japan’s big victory in securing a huge portion of the votes in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) the other day. I’m not going to go into the petty details of how the organization works or what exactly happened. Suffice it to say that this is such an unnecessary development. Absolutely no good can come of such foolishness. What is at stake is not anachronistic Japanese cultural traditions (the argument that eating whale meat is part of Japanese tradition is simply not true. Japanese did not eat meat until very recently in their history, and whale meat only made it into people’s homes at the end of the Meiji era, when food shortages forced the government to seek alternative food sources), but the existence of fellow creatures.
What does it take for people to care about something other than themselves? The planet is our common home, irreplaceable and absolutely vital to our own existence. If for nothing else we ought to protect the planet, together, just for our own survival. We cannot exist without other life around us.