From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Miracle: That whales still even exist

Harpooning a Whale (Engraving by John H. Clark)
Whales have been featured within humankind’s sacred tales for centuries.  This is understandable, given the majesty of these aquatic mammals. reports that whales have been represented in “mythology from around the world.”  Yu-kiang was an ancient Chinese water deity – a whale that turned into a giant bird whenever it got really angry.  This bird then
whipped up “terrible storms” as it emerged from the ocean into the air.  The Inuits believed that the whale was the most “magnificent subject” of their sea goddess, Sedna.  An East African story tells of a whale that was sent by God to teach King Sulemani a lesson in humility.  Icelandic legend speaks of a man who “threw a stone at a fin whale and hit the blowhole, causing the whale to burst.”  As punishment, the man was ordered to stay away from the sea for the next 20 years.  When he disobeyed, “a whale came and killed him.”  The moral of this story is said to be that “whales can forgive a crime, but only if it had been properly atoned for.”

If this moral is accurate, then many humans could be in whale-sized trouble (as in Moby Dick times ten tremilliaducentredecillion).  Although humans have been hunting whales since at least 3000 BCE, by the late 1930s “more than 50,000 whales were killed annually.”  Wikipedia reports that by the middle of the 20th century, “catches far exceeded the sustainable limit for whale stocks.”  Therefore, whales were (and perhaps still are) in danger of becoming extinct due to their mass slaughter by humans.

That is why Paul Watson, “a co-founding member of Greenpeace,” formed the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society (SSCS) – which Wikipedia states is “a non-profit, marine conservation organization based in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington in the United States.”  This organization utilizes “aggressive actions” in order to discourage what seems like “species-endangering whaling and fishing practices.”  Animal Planet’s weekly series, Whale Wars, is based upon the SSCS’s opposition to the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean.


Copyright January 25, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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