Helping to Heal & Save the Whales

 

Compassion is not simply a sense of sympathy or caring for those who suffer, but a sustained and practical determination to do whatever is possible and necessary to help alleviate their suffering.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Humpback whale entangled in fishing nets  Photo copyright Bryan & Cherry Alexander/SeaPics.com. Used with purchased licenseHumpback whale entangled in fishing nets
Photo copyright Bryan & Cherry Alexander/SeaPics.com. Used with purchased license.
Visualize & contribute to this:     Free, safe, happy whales at peace: photo purchased from Dancer FleetVisualize & contribute to this: Free, safe, happy whales at peace: photo purchased from Dancer Fleet.

 

It's not enough to love the whales. It's not enough to be inspired by their majestic beauty and haunting songs, to be graced by their presence, or benefit from their messages of wisdom. It's not enough to merely receive so much from the whales. We must give back. We must help them.

The great whales of the earth are far from saved. They are still in great peril. Worldwide, they still face major threats. Painful, deadly, horrifying threats. If you love the whales, I hope you will read on to learn about the threats they face and how we can help them:

Entanglements in fishing gear: An estimated 1,000 - 2,000 whales a year are entangled in nets and float lines, some dragging heavy traps and buoys. Only an estimated 3% of those entangled whales are fortunate enough to be spotted by humans and helped by those skilled to do the dangerous disentanglement work. The remainder can suffer for long periods of time with infection from lines cutting into their flesh, difficulty breathing, inability to dive and swim properly, and often die slow, painful deaths. Read more about the Center for Coastal Studies heroic disentanglement work. Read more about entanglement directly from the perspective of the whales.
 
Ship Strikes: Injuries and deaths resulting from ship collisions remain a significant threat to whales. They are a primary cause of the slow recovery of the highly depleted population on of North Atlantic right whales. Ship strikes are a worldwide hazard to all whales. Read more.
 
Pollution/Habitat destruction by humans: The ongoing harvesting of krill for human consumption as nutritional supplements may be threatening the food source of seals, penguins and whales. “Krill is the basis of the Antarctic food web, on which fish, seals, penguins and whales all rely,” says Willie Mackenzie, of Greenpeace's oceans campaign. Read more "The pesticides that you spray on your dandelions run off into the oceans and end up in the food chain, and enormous amounts of plastic and other trash end up in the ocean. It's a closed system. Everything's connected" Fabien Cousteau. Read more.
 
Sound Pollution: "Low frequency active sonar (LFA sonar) is a dangerous technology that has the potential to kill, deafen and/or disorient whales, dolphins and all marine life, as well as humans, in the water. It is the loudest sound ever put into the world's oceans." Marsha Green, Ph.D Ocean Mammal Institute. Read more.
 
Watch Deadly Sounds in a Silent World
a compelling video from Save the Whales Again.

photo copyright Sierra Goodman www.divinedolphin.com used with permission and gratitudphoto copyright Sierra Goodman www.divinedolphin.com.
Used with permission and gratitude.
Captivity: Whales were not put on the earth to be imprisoned by humans. Only one party benefits from whales in captivity: the corporations who exploit them for enormous profit. The whales suffer physically and psychologically--living in absurdly small pools, being forced to perform tricks to be fed dead fish as a reward. Whales in captivity have been forcefully kidnapped from their mothers, siblings and other family members, and live in isolation in an completely unnatural environment. At least 154 whales have died in captivity, most at a very young age (visit www.orcahome.de/orcadead.htm for specifics). And what do children learn from watching whales in captivity? They learn that it’s acceptable to treat others with condescension. They learn disrespect for wildlife and the ocean environment. They learn that domination and cruelty are acceptable, that it’s ok for animals to suffer for their entertainment, and for the profit of others. Read what experts say about whales in captivity. Read what Tilikum, a captive whale, says about his life.
 
Whaling: Ignoring the International Whaling Commission's 1986 moratorium on whaling, Japan, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands continue to kill whales under the guise of scientific study. Over 2,000,000 whales have been slaughtered between 1910 and 1969, and the killing continues. And in the summer of 2010, the Obama administration supported the resurrection of commercial whaling, much to the horror of whale lovers everywhere. Read more about what is being done to stop whaling.
 

Sometimes, becoming aware of the myriad and seemingly endless ways whales suffer at the hands of humans can make us feel overwhelmed with the horror of it all and with the task of sifting through all the information and requests for donations and help. It helps me to remember that even though as one person I cannot "save them all, " or “heal them all,” if I pay attention to how I can best direct my own available energy to three important areas--sending healing energy and prayer, participating in activism, and making compassionate lifestyle choices, I know can make a difference.

Some people feel that political activism is the best or only way to create change. Others feel that praying for or visualizing the change needed is a more powerful way to help, while others believe that making daily, compassion based choices is the most critical form of help. I believe wholeheartedly they are all needed. Action in the outer world and sending love, healing energy and prayer from the inner world both create change. These are not mutually exclusive strategies, they merely employ different energies. Some of us are better suited to do hands on professional or volunteer work or political activism, while others are more drawn to do regular prayer and healing work for animals. Some of us have more time than money to give, others have more money than time. But no matter who we are, regardless of our unique resources, all of us who love the whales might find thirty minutes a month to respond to a few email alerts, moments each day to pray and visualize positive outcomes for a particular whale or group of whales in peril, and can begin to examine how our lifestyle choices impact the whales. We can all do something.

I have always been moved by the Anatole France quote, "Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened." It is true that loving animals, feeling the wonder and magic of their love, awakens a special place in our souls. Yet an even deeper chamber in our souls is awakened and fulfilled when we give back--from the place of deep compassion, the part of us that finds powerful meaning, contentment and joy that comes from service and from consciously choosing to do no harm to our fellow creatures on the earth.

I hope you will feel inspired to help the whales in return for their great gifts to us. In honor of the whales who’ve blessed us with their presence, their beauty, grace and wisdom, and to help all whales who are still are being harmed and killed by humans, please consider one or more of the following suggestions to help them.

 

 

1. Take political action, stay informed, let your voice be heard.
     Speak up for the whales.

Doing nothing is not a neutral position. When we choose to avert our gaze and leave oppression unacknowledged, we implicitly support inequity by helping to obscure its existence.

~ Laura Smith, Columbia University

The energy that passionate, hard working activists have mobilized makes it fairly easy for the rest of us to keep informed about human actions that put whales at risk and how we can help: quick click petitions, emails to legislators, and calls or faxes that can be sent to communicate our positions on each matter. It makes a difference! Silence in the face of wrong perpetuates wrong.

Consider signing up for one or two organizations' alert lists, RSS feeds or Facebook Pages—with perhaps thirty minutes of response time each month you can be part of influencing legislators and changing laws to help the whales. Express your opinions. Make your voice count. Consider making donations to the organizations whose work to help the whales you want to support. I’ve listed a number of my favorite organizations here. I hope you will find one or more you want to support.

Earth Island Institute International Marine Mammal Project
Main focus (of this link): Professional home of Ric O’Barry, The Cove and the new TV series Blood Dolphins
From the web site: “At the Cove in Taiji, the dolphin killing continues. Although the killing of bottlenose dolphins - the primary target species - has dramatically decreased compared to previous seasons, they, along with other dolphin species, including many pilot whales and Risso's dolphins, continue to be captured for aquariums and slaughtered for meat by the Taiji fishermen. The fight for the protection of all marine mammals goes on. For updates on the situation, visit our Blog." GO RIC O’BARRY! MAY THE DOLPHINS BE SAVED FROM SLAUGHTER & CAPTIVITY!

Sea Shepherd
Main focus: Stop whaling and other atrocities against life in the oceans.
Well known from the famous Whale Wars documentary series on television and the efforts of Captain Paul Watson and crew to stop the Japanese from illegally commercial whaling in the southern oceans.

From their web site: "In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) enacted a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Since then, three nations - Iceland, Norway, and Japan - have brutally slaughtered over 25,000 whales under the guise of scientific research and for commercial purposes. The IWC does not have the capacity to enforce the moratorium. Sea Shepherd, guided by the United Nations World Charter for Nature, is the only organization whose mission is to enforce these international conservation regulations on the high seas. Sea Shepherd has gone on to end the careers of 9 illegal whaling vessels, saving thousands of whales. These campaigns and other Sea Shepherd efforts have kept the issue of whaling in the international spotlight for the past thirty years. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas." GO SEA SHEPHERD! MAY THE WHALES BE SAVED!

The Ocean Mammal Institute
Main focus: Research on vessel impact, sound pollution
From the web site: OMI is dedicated to awakening peoples' minds and hearts to nature's interconnected harmony. Our programs help individuals understand and feel their connection to nature, and give them courage to act responsibly for the planet and its inhabitants. One of our trip veterans and a dear friend, Elise Pouliot, has been with Dr. Greene during her Hawaiian research trips. Dr. Green is a researcher who does not limit her perspective of whales to her mind. Her heart is huge and wide open. I think you’ll enjoy her article, "Our Healing Relationship with Nature."

The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA
Main focus: Marine mammal research, whale disentanglement, education
This organization conducts scientific research with emphasis on marine mammals of the western North Atlantic and on the coastal and marine habitats and resources of the Gulf of Maine. This includes the North Atlantic Humpback, Right Whales, Fins, Minkes and others. They pioneered whale disentangle techniques, teach others these techniques around the world, and continue hands on rescue with entangled whales. They were also instrumental in the initial and on-going fluke identification of humpback whales.

St. Francis in my Big Sur garden, wearing  a whale fluke necklace from the Dominican Republic. Photo copyright Teresa WagnerSt. Francis in my Big Sur garden, wearing a whale fluke necklace from the Dominican Republic. Photo copyright Teresa Wagner

2. Send prayer, love and healing energy to the whales.

 

Make me an instrument of your peace
where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light and
where there is sadness, joy
~ Francis of Assisi

I believe that if St. Francis were alive today he would be in love with the whales. From the many books I’ve read about his life, it seems he was only at the sea one time, and there is no recorded history of any interactions with whales. But if he were here today, with easy access to the ocean, I believe he would be a great advocate for the whales. Can you picture him aboard the Sea Shepherd’s boats, praying and sending love to their crew, to the whales, and to the Japanese whalers? I can. St. Francis is a model for me of someone who not only loved animals, but talked with them and was directly involved in saving them, and always sought harmony when conflicts existed. Spirituality and activism were not mutually exclusive for him and they need not be for us.

Please keep the whales in your prayers. Whatever your personal rituals of prayer, meditation, or healing may be, please include the whales. Consider including them not only in your individual spiritual practices but also in the meditation, prayer or healing groups of which you are a part. Every prayer counts. Every directed thought of love and healing energy is received and makes a difference.

During a reading with the whales for a trip participant asked, "What is the future of whales?" A whale who calls herself Ananda responded:

Keep sending us the light of love. All the prayers and the love reaches us to our core. Each and every bit reaches us and helps us. We too send love to you and the land. It’s important that some of you heal your anger at those whose hearts don’t yet see that we’re all the same. Holding onto the anger doesn’t help us or you. Learn to love those who harm us; transform your anger into action for the good. It is one of the greatest things you can do. Love everyone--including those you dislike, including yourself, and all the animals, not just us.

It only takes a moment to send them love, to see them so filled and surrounded by love that only love can touch them. Send love, too, to those who harm them or still believe it’s OK to harm them--the whalers, the hunters, the politicians who support whaling and hunting, and those who support sound programs that harm ocean animals. Send them love and compassion. So that more and more and more love is what interfaces with the whales and these humans and their practices. And send love to the fisherman and all the fishing nets in the sea. See these nets as completely and always separate from any whale or dolphin. Send love to every molecule of water in the oceans. Feel the love bringing it health and vitality. See all life in the sea teeming with great love, harmony, safety and health. See it all just sparkling with love and safety for the whales and all the ocean’s inhabitants.

And send love to all the whales and dolphins in captivity--famous Tillikum (Sea World, Orlando) and Lolita (Miami Seaquarium)-- who who’ve been kidnapped from their homes and families and forced to live in artificial, small enclosure and perform tricks for food or out of boredom. Send them the energy of calm and love. Let them know you care. They will hear your message and feel your love. And visualize people no longer having interest in seeing whales in aquariums or resort swimming pools. Visualize all humans understanding the suffering this creates for dolphins and whales. Visualize aquariums with empty seats, empty ticket lines, so consistently empty that such places close, the dolphins and whales taken back to their ocean homes or rehabilitation centers, and former aquarium workers happily and successfully employed in new work.

 

3. Make compassionate lifestyle choices that do not harm whales or the oceans.

 

That’s the only thing that changes the world – individual passion. Governments don’t change things. Big organizations don’t change things. Individuals change things.
~ Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd
  • Photo of a severely injured humpback calf from fishing gear entanglement, seen in March 2008 in Silver Bank. We named him Little One. He died days later, but will live in many of our hearts forever.   Photo purchased from Dancer Fleet.Photo of a severely injured humpback calf from fishing gear entanglement, seen in March 2008 in Silver Bank. We named him Little One. He died days later, but will live in many of our hearts forever. Photo purchased from Dancer Fleet.Consider making simple changes in your dietary and supplement choices for you and your pets that will reduce the suffering of whales: Use flax oil and microalgae supplements for omega oils instead of those with fish oil and krill. Eating and using fish products directly contributes to the entanglement of thousands of whales every year, only 3% of which are helped by disentanglement teams. The rest suffer painfully, sometimes for many years, until they die. Click here for a detailed article on this issue. Read more about entanglement.

    Krill is an extremely important source of food for whales and penguins. If we exploit these sources for our own needs, rather from use land based substances that can meet our nutritional needs, we deplete their source of food. Read more about this.
  • Don’t patronize facilities with captive whales or dolphins. When we give our money to such establishments, we are directly contributing to the suffering of whales and dolphins for our entertainment. Read more about why marine mammals should not live in captivity.
  • Reduce your use of plastic and clean up plastic litter. If you live near the sea or any body of water that reaches the sea, pick up and discard ANY plastic bags that are littering roads, beaches or meadows. Read more. Whales have actually died from ingesting plastic. Read more.
  • Never place or release balloons outside! When balloons reach the ocean, the color is bleached out by the sun. Floating on the surface, they then look like jellyfish, a common food source for sea birds and turtles. Whales can also ingest this plastic inadvertently when lunge feeding for fish or krill. When this plastic is eaten, it is often stuck in the throats of these animals who then starve to death because no other food can pass through the esophagus clogged with the balloons. Read more on the Facebook Page No More Balloon Releases.
  • Use natural products without pesticides or other toxins in your home and garden which end up in our oceans.

 

Every consumer choice counts.
Our daily personal choices make a difference in the lives of whales.

 

 

Additional Links and Articles

 

Links Regarding Helping to Heal the Whales

Links Regarding Captivity

Facebook Pages Regarding Captivity

Other important sites:

  • American Cetacean Society ACS is the oldest whale conversation group in the world. Founded in 1967, it is a non-profit, volunteer membership organization with regional U.S. chapters and members in 41 countries. Visit their web site for fact sheets on whales, action alerts, how to get their journal, Whalewatcher. "One of the principal purposes of the American Cetacean Society is to help bring scientists and the general public together. Our ability to bridge the gap between the layperson and the complex world of science and research is one of the things that makes us unique."
  • California Gray Whale Coalition
    Dedicated to protecting the most ancient baleen whale on planet earth.
  • Cetacean Society International
    Whales Alive! quarterly newsletter and archives of dozens of articles on whale issues that are comprehensive and "lay person friendly."
  • Oceana
    Active campaigns to save the oceans; action alerts.
  • Save the Whales Founded in 1977, by a 14 years old girl in Santa Cruz, CA. She and her mother are still loving activists for the whales.
  • Save the Whales Again Work of filmmaker and passionate whale activist Jeff Pantukhoff. He is the man who worked tirelessly and heroically in 1999 to attmept disentangle the humpback calf we encountered in Silver Bank who was tortuously entangled in fishing gear.

Articles

Personal Note from Teresa:

As a lay person, I've studied information about humpback whales since 1988 after falling in love with them on my first whale watch trip in Stellwagon Bank. I've traveled many times to see them in New England, Alaska, Hawaii, and off the California coast where I live. And since 1999 I've taken people on spiritual journeys to swim with and talk with humpback whales in Silver Bank off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

I try to keep up with current natural history information and threats to the whales from the commendable organizations dedicated to research and conservation of whales, and share this information with the people on my trips. I have not been a stranger to the information about how whales are in harm's way. However, on March 26, 2009 in Silver Bank I saw firsthand a humpback calf tortuously entangled in fishing gear. Despite heroic efforts, the people who worked to disentangle him were not able to. He died shortly after this and lived most of his life on earth in pain and fear. This experience changed my life forever. I didn't think I could love them more, or care about them more, but I do. I will never be the same after that tragedy, and I will never stop speaking out about how we can help them. It's no longer enough to just love them, watch and be with them, wear fluke jewelry and adorn my house with their photographs and sculptures. While these things can be gestures of respect for the whales, they're mostly for my own pleasure. They don't do anything to help the whales on a practical level. Life on earth is one community. When someone we love is in trouble, we need to act.

I hope the information, resources and links in this section of the site may inspire you to give back in some way to help the whales of the earth. The whales need us. They deserve our help. In whatever way we can give it, let’s give them our help

Fishing gear entanglement of whales, ship strikes, habitat destruction, sound pollution, captivity and whaling are real. And cruel.

If you love whales, please join me in participating in alert responses, making donations, saying prayers and visualizing freedom and peace for the whales,, and making compassionate choices about your food, supplements, household products and entertainment venues that don't harm the whales.

May the whales be free from suffering. May they be at peace.

Photo copyright Piers van der Walt. Used with permission and gratitude.Photo copyright Piers van der Walt. Used with permission and gratitude.

We may one day find the Peace we seek, and it will be when we accept ourselves not as the Crown of Creation, but as one of the Jewels in the Crown, alongside the People of the Sea.
~ Scott Taylor

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