Did you know that when Orcas travel in groups they breathe in unison? And that the largest animal in the world, the Blue Whale, eats up to 3,000,000 calories a day, and has 40cm of blubber around it?!
While you watch in childlike awe as whales cruise along the coastline – giant, majestic and mysterious – they are chatting away to each other in dialects based on locality and family bonds. That’s their song.
Like every other living creature, whales play a significant role in our planets environmental health. Not only is their place in the food chain critical, but even their poo plays an important part! Baleen whale poo is rich in iron, which is fundamental for the growth of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton sequesters carbon dioxide and in turn provides two thirds of the earth’s oxygen!
These days the Southern Ocean especially is lacking whales, lacking poo, lacking iron, and lacking phytoplankton. But ‘Save the plankton’ doesn’t tug at our heartstrings like ‘Save the whales’ does. Why?
Our wonder of whales has lead to the ongoing and passionate plight against pro-whaling nations such as Japan and Norway. Is this because whales have become a symbol representing all living things that need protecting? What’s our connection to these ocean mammals?
You will find the answer looking into the eye of a cetacean.
“Imo’s Whale Poem
How often, one wonders, would a whale
Whilst splashing his almighty tail,
Stop and think with certainty
The Most Important Mammal is me!”
Along the Great Australian Bight, the Mirning people have their own whale tale:
“A long time ago, a great White Whale Spirit called Jiddara came down to Earth. He came from the stars to swim in the oceans of the infinite void of Earth as it then existed. As the Seven Sisters chased down after him, Jiddara dived into the vast blue depths of the ocean, thrashing his tail, and then rose to meet the new dawn. From this point on Jiddara created the Earth and the Sky, leaving the echoes of his Dreamtime journey imprinted in there at Whale Rock in South Australia. We are born as a result of the whale being the mother of the sea. In the time of the ‘Beginning’, we were born from the ocean, in the foam along the shores of the great South Seas. In the dance of the Beginning, we were born to dream the whales. The whale is our family. Over thousands of years, we have come to this place where the whales gather every winter to mate and give birth. We share food together; we eat shellfish off the same table – the reefs. They are our brothers and sisters in the ocean. When we die, it is with them we return, to the Morning Star.” Narrated by Margaret and Bunna Lawrie from the film “Whaledreamers” 2006.
Whales appeal to the human spirit. If you’re into whales, give ‘em a hand!
If you’re in Australia, see if your area is registered in the Humpback Icon Project where communities adopt a specific Humpback Whale. The whales pass our coastline twice a year and you can be a part of celebrating the migration of an individual whale. Spot their unique body markings and personality! Check out the International Fund for Animal Welfare: www.stopwhaling.com.au
Support Save The Whale Campaigns through organisations such as Surfers for Cetaceans, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, and Whales Alive. Find more save the whale organisations click here.
“Imo’s Whale Poem 2
What does whale poo look like?
Asked Barry to his dad,
Does it look like ours and smell really bad?
Or is it long and squirmy, does it float or does it sink?
And if other fish are around what water would they drink?
Do whales have a secret loo that they can swim off to?
And how often does a whale really need to do a poo?
Barry goes on thinking, then exclaims with a start:
Imagine all the bubbles if a whale was to fart!”