Back in the 1970s I use to have an album, “Songs of the Humpback Whale”.
I was an Eco-hippie and tree hugger even then and reading about the whales as well as going to see them off the coast of Cali caused me to think we should stop killing them.
Here were intelligent beings that lived in families that we had no need to kill yet were hunting to extinction.
Many consider my philosophy of placing a higher value on keeping species of animals from extinction than I place on killing them to help increase the human population to be misguided.
I think that humans should start realizing that it is in our interests to decrease the human population through limiting reproduction. The alternative is too frightening to imagine.
From today’s Science Section of The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19profile.html?_r=1&ref=science
Whales’ Grandeur and Grace, Up Close
By YUDHIJIT BHATTACHARJEE
Published: April 18, 2011
On a warm summer afternoon in 2005, Bryant Austin was snorkeling in the blue waters of the South Pacific by the islands of Tonga, looking through his camera at a humpback whale and her calf swimming less than 50 yards away. As he waited for the right moment, the playful calf swam right up to him, so close that he had to lower his camera. That’s when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.
Turning around, Mr. Austin found himself looking straight into the eye of the mother whale, her body bigger than a school bus. The tap had come from her pectoral fin, weighing more than a ton. To Mr. Austin, her gesture was an unmistakable warning that he had gotten too close to the calf. And yet, the mother whale had extended her fin with such precision and grace — to touch the photographer without hurting him — that Mr. Austin was in awe of her “delicate restraint.”
Looking into the whale’s eye, lit by sunlight through the water, Austin felt he was getting a glimpse of calmness and intelligence, of the animal’s consciousness. The moment changed Mr. Austin’s life. It struck him that something was missing from four decades of whale photography: the beauty of true scale. Mr. Austin concluded that the only way to capture the magnificence of whales would be to create life-size pictures of them. “I wanted to recreate the feeling I had when I looked into the eye of the mother whale,” he said.
Mr. Austin has since pursued that dream, spending countless hours at sea in the company of whales. Working with five different whales from three species, he has created 25 true-scale pictures, including two full portraits — each composed from dozens of photographs of different sections of the whale’s body. The largest photo is a 6-by-30-foot portrait of a dwarf Minke whale from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the panels that make up the image weigh a total of 600 pounds. Some of Mr. Austin’s work went on display this month at the Electric Works gallery in San Francisco.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19profile.html?_r=1&ref=science
Also from today’s Science Section of The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19obwhale.html?ref=science
A Recording Studio Found Under the Pacific
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Published: April 18, 2011
Humpback whales not only sing, they imitate the singing of other whales. And some of their tunes turn into worldwide hits, with whales all over the Pacific Ocean picking them up.
Several genetically different groups of humpbacks, separate populations with little interchange among them, live in the South Pacific. Researchers recorded 11 different song types in the region from 1998 to 2008.
Their study, published online Thursday in Current Biology, found that each year, songs spread from one group to another, moving east from Australia to French Polynesia. They believe that this is the first observation of a cultural change transmitted repeatedly on such a large geographic scale.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19obwhale.html?ref=science