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Whale Wars

I've been watching Whale Wars on Animal Planet. In this series the Sea Shepherd group - which split off from Greenpeace a while back - challenges Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. The whalers are following international law, they say - they are taking over 900 whales a year for "research". It is such bullshit, of course. I am familiar with this kind of end run around law from my years in planning, of course.

So what do you do when the whalers are following the letter, if not the intent, of the law? What the governments are doing is...nothing. What the Sea Shepherd does is throw chemicals on board the whaling vessels that contaminate the ship and any whales on board with a horrendous smell. They take other actions, too, like throwing compounds on the whalers that make the decks really slippery. And each time they approach a whaler they announce that the whaler is violating international law and must cease whaling.

It is a dangerous operation and they have no support. The real reason, clearly, for the Sea Shepherd's operations is publicity. The captain doesn't really make any secret of that fact. They try to create drama in their challenges of the whaling ships, drama that will make good copy and good video and still photos. At the same time, this is obviously far more than a publicity mission. It isn't like holding signs in front of a fur shop. The crew is in real danger and they have to commit themselves to the mission: they must be willing to give their lives to it if that's what it takes.

When I watch the film of whales bursting through the water it makes me cry and it makes me angry. I shake my fists at the television, literally, and I scream at the whaling ships. This crew is doing something for the whales, something very real. It is hard to find a place where you actually make a difference you can see. I feel so frustrated and I want to do something. More, I want governments around the world to do something real.

One thing they can do: change the law. Get together and develop a different set of rules that guts that "research" provision altogether. I know this isn't easy but isn't it possible? Let's get out from under the "research" cloak and call a whale a whale.

So I guess my next move is to write to the international whaling commission. Encourage others to do the same. I'll keep y'all updated, with address and suggested wording.

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