Last week, whale saving became concrete, again, on an international stage. A Greenpeace activist nearly bit it at the hands of a Japanese whaler. Then, the Greenpeace Southern Ocean campaign came to smelly, blubbery end, when a twenty ton carcass was dumped on the steps of the Japanese Embassy in Berlin. Pretty ballsy. Now an endangered Right Whale has washed up on the coast of Florida, and others have been seen out of range off of Texas. And, of course, the bottlenose whale made its famous Thames diversion. We seem to have reached a sort of whale tipping point, an opportunity to raise awareness about how their condition relates to the health of our oceans, human health, rising sea levels ...
By Wednesday we should know from the necropsy why the Northern bottlenose left its pod for an ill-fated London visit. Sonar from Navy ships? Illness? Odd word, necropsy. Until looking it up, I didn't know that it refers to the animal version of an autopsy. According to Wikipedia, both words derive from Greek: autopsy, to see oneself, and necropsy, to see a dead body. Apparently calling a human autopsy a necropsy is considered an insult.
This human/animal division takes me back to the Killers of Eden, and the history of inter-species trust that made the later whaling symbiosis possible. The Yuin people that preceded European-origin fisherpeople on the shores of Eden believed that the orca were reincarnations of their departed, and thus made no such distinction between themselves and the animals, between the types of dead. They apparently left their hunted carcasses as offerings for the orca. Generations of this interaction seem to have led to the possibility for the partnership called the "law of the tongue."
The Eden tale does have a sad ending, as most whale stories inevitably do, with the history of over-whaling (though I haven't seen Free Willy or Whale Rider!). But you should read about it for yourself, or see the documentary, just because the potential is so extraordinary. I'm not suggesting some sort of kitschy romanticizing of the Yuin (about whom I know nothing beyond the documentary). But as we do our part to help the whales out, while simultaneously watching entities beyond our control destroy life on a scale as massive as the oceans, it's nice to hold on to those little bits of wonder and potential. If all of the people who wanted to see the whale escape from the Thames alive became actively concerned about the fate of whales in general, as much as thirty years ago, who knows? ::