Tim Walker’s Whale in a Pickle

Are we so full of ourselves that we think we know what’s best for all of nature’s creatures?

Of course by ‘we’ I mean the environmental activists of the nation and by ‘all of nature’s creatures’, well, I’m really talking about one species in particular which, if you paid any attention to my typically flippant heading, you’ll have probably worked out by now.

Pickles aren’t creatures, smart-arse.

The reason that whales beach themselves is not definitively known. Yet, and coming as no surprise, the aforementioned enviro-zealots like to attribute this issue to the ruinous effects of modern living. Included in this scapegoating is pollution; shipping noise; military sonar – the latter shouldering the brunt of the blame, having been said to mimic whales’ own natural audio thereby confusing and disorienting their navigational senses…

Wait a minute. Nah. I don’t buy it.

I just don’t believe whales are that prone to confusion. Hell, if these miraculous mammals can orientate themselves while holding their breath over ten kilometres beneath the ocean surface and in absolute darkness, something tells me they’re a smidgen more canny than to be confused by the beeping of a ship’s sonar – not like people when combing the ocean for a missing aircraft’s black box…

Here’s the thing. Mass whale strandings have been a feature of coastlines since back in the day when Greek philosophers would try to convince naïve townsfolk that grounded whales were portentous of Poseidon’s anger. Yeah. A slightly more credible theory is that whales are coming ashore with the intention of dying due to an aquatic food shortage; which I can totally see being peoples’ responsibility. Global population is ever-expanding thus fisheries need to continuously raise output and ultimately, sea life is suffering. That part makes sense. It’s what we do about it that makes decidedly less sense.

Instead of locating the cause of the problem then taking steps to reinstate these ocean-going-behemoths’ food source, we appear to be doing the opposite. For a start we’ve recently implemented laws preventing Japanese from ‘hunting whales for research purposes’ meaning there’ll be more of them in the ocean requiring a food source; so when for the good of the species these magnanimous creatures do opt out of the race by parking up on the nearest beach, we recruit teams of do-gooders looking to justify their own existence by spending countless hours moistening, comforting then finally refloating them, sometimes only to have the sly buggers swim around the bay and do the very same thing on the next beach over.

What the hell did you expect, genius? Whales aren’t stupid. Their world is almost twice the area and is over 100 times the volume of ours, so I reckon they pretty well know where they’re going. If they do run aground, I have no doubt it’s because they want to. So if you want to do something practical, shit, I dunno, swear off seafood or something. Otherwise, just leave the big ol’ beasts be.

Japanese slaughter whales, sure, but at least they use them. Surely that’s better than having them starving in the ocean or the alternative, rotting away on beaches.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Waylan D Ocean

Photography by Wit Harr-Poon



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