Editor’s note —
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering removing North Pacific humpback whales from the Endangered Species List. The review is in response to a petition filed by a group of fishermen from Hawaii who believe the humpback population is large enough that it should no longer be listed as endangered. NOAA is looking for scientific and commercial information pertaining to the North Pacific population. Any interested parties can submit information by October 28, 2013.
Dan Knaub, Founder and Owner of The Whale Video Company and PR and Media director for Cetacean Society International, recently wrote a piece about delisting humpbacks and our obligation to protect all whales and dolphins. Below is an excerpt from his piece. You can read the full piece here.
By Dan Knaub
Every individual in the United States is responsible for protecting whales and dolphins. Millions of people go whale watching on the East and West coasts of the United States. Their favorite species of whale is the humpback whale. More than any other, the humpback is most likely to approach your boat and display some pretty extraordinary behaviors from breaching, hitting the water with flippers and flukes (tails) or capturing schools of small fish in some very interesting, unique and well-planned strategies.
The US government is considering delisting the humpback whale from the endangered species list. This event alone will put humpback whales at an increased risk of being hit by a boat, caught in a net or harmed by underwater sound.
The humpback whales that spend nine months off the coast of Massachusetts each year are increasingly threatened by an ever growing number of whaling nations. Just a few years ago it was only one. Twenty years ago, only St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a small Caribbean nation killed humpback whales, now Greenland kills 8 to 10 annually. Both Iceland and Japan announced their intent to begin harvesting (killing) humpbacks.
Why should this matter to you? Killing a whale quickly is not easy or efficient. Many whales swim away wounded, never to be seen again. Some linger for 30 minutes or more and St. Vincent also kills very young calves to keep the distraught mothers an easy grieving target.
Killing whales for profit should be an assault on your emotions. Humpback whales are the most sociable of all the whale species. While they often approach a boat full of people, take a look at them and demonstrate some of the most incredible behaviors, they are also extremely curious about other things in their ocean home. I have watched fascinated as they played with or investigated other species of marine life, floating debris and even small islands of seaweed and pine pollen. Humpbacks are self-aware, they know that they exist and have some amazing personalities. They know we exist and seem to want to learn more about us by interacting with people along the railing of boats.
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.