This poor planet is being roundly abused by it’s careless inhabitants. Huge expanses of once vibrant and living landscape have been covered with pavement, it’s water and atmosphere filled with noxious chemiclals and one poor species, in it’s eagerness to kill itself, is eating up all the others. It is a world of potential being realised for greed and is the saddest thing i can imagine.
I couldn’t take the picture but the government did with my taxes so i guess it’s alright.
In 1986 and 1987 I was a naturalist on a whale watch boat. We would leave the dock in the morning, steam twenty miles off the southern Maine coast to Jeffreys ledge and spend the day out there. Humpback Whales can be identified by the patterns on the underside of their fluke (tail) and there is a catalogue at Allied Whale (College of the Atlantic in Maine) that holds the photos and the histories of over 6000 individual humpbacks. So often we would come upon known whales. Some of them had been seen year after year for more than 10 years and were known to be mothers and grandmothers. Some of these same whales are still being seen making it 30 years of friendship.
There was one whale we met several times in the summer of 1986, she was named Talon. First seen as a calf with her mother Sinistra in 1981, we knew she was 5 years old, a playful and rowdy “teenager”. She was much loved amongst the East coast whale watch boats and devoted whale watchers because she seemed to delight in interacting with them. She would come close, roll on her side, spy-hop seeming to look us in the eye, flap her flippers and tail then wait to see our reaction. Many casual thrill seekers became devoted to whales and the environmental stress on the ocean because of her enthusiasm.
The next year we met her again but this time she seemed subdued and serious carefully watching over her first calf (later named Channel). She still came to boats, almost like she was showing us her calf, and stayed close while it fooled around with us, but she was taking her mothering role very seriously. It was fascinating and touching to see the change in her demeanor.
The last time we saw her and her calf was in mid-September. It was the end of our season and we knew she was getting ready to head south to the calving grounds (north of the Dominican Republic) with her calf. Since there is very little humpback food (krill, copepods, herring, sand launce) in southern waters, it was of utmost importance that she gain enough stored fat to carry her through the 2,000 mile migration and the fasting period from late January through April. We bid her a fond farewell and wished her and her calf good health ‘til we saw her next summer.
In December the dreadful news started rolling in…. first one, then two then finally 10 humpbacks were found dead on various beaches around Cape Cod. Five of them were known and loved….. one of them was Talon.
Scientists were able to do a few biopsies and began finding freshly eaten herring in some of the whales stomachs. The livers of the herring bore high concentrations of red tide, apparently not toxic to the herring but causing almost instant death in the whales. Red tide is a naturally occuring organism, but our farming practices and the effluent from our cities causes them to flourish. Once again human shortsightedness and enormous capacity to fowl our nest was wrecking havoc with our animal neighbors….. this time the neighbors were known and loved and it broke my heart.
Tags: environment, humpback, nature, talon, toxins, whale
I would say that my globe is the saddest thing I own. When I look at it on my desk, I’m positively amazed by what it represents; having the entire planet next to me as I work. But then I think of how we are ruining it, either through global warming, war or other injustices. It saddens me to see a representation of a world with so much hope and prosperity and how such hope is neglected to make room for the very things that are destroying it.
Tags: destruction, earth, globe, planet