Disclaimer: a) you might get offended by reading this post; b) we absolutely argue that every cetacean life is precious and orcas should be rescued.
If you have not heard, a pod of a dozen or so killer whales in currently trapped in ice near Inkikjuak, Canada (link). Rescue efforts have been sluggish to put it mildly (link). As of now the fate of whales remains unclear and it is painfully evident that no one is prepared to deal successfully with occurrences like that.
However, the situation caused wide media coverage, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, officials and governments are being pressured, just check the Twitter handles
#SaveQuebecWhales, #TrappedOrcas and #whalepodQuebec And it is all good, as Canada’s officials started to move albeit too little under pressure.
However, for us the tragedy of trapped orcas revealed unsettling truth, the ugly truth that not all whales and dolphins are treated equally. Do you remember 100 belugas trapped in ice in Russia in 2011 (link). It was pretty much ignored by nearly everybody, but luckily for belugas, storm and warming weather broke the ice and some survivors made it to open waters.
What is unsettling to us is the fact that fate of stranded animals NEVER (well with recent exception of Johannes in NL (link) causes such uproar. And it does not matter if it is a pod of dozen sperm whales, or dozens of pilot whales, or an endangered sei whales. And it also does not matter if they are shot in a head or denied rescue and medical attention. None of it phases the public or prompts widespread social media campaigns. Strandings go unnoticed, and you can hardly find 5 tweets devoted to them and even these tweets will be nothing like dramatic orca related tweets like “PLZ RT Help save Orcas cant die thru lack of funding KascoMarineBigMiracle@gmail.com need volunteers/donations” or “BECAUSE THEY’RE WORTH IT! WE DEMAND THESE WHALES ARE SAVED – NOW!
Now we got curious and asked on FB why this is the case. And boy! did we get our answer.
Actually the answers we have received made us wish we had never asked this question to begin with. The answers basically indicated two main things:
1. Public’s view of stranded animals is all messed up
2. Our efforts to raise awareness and give another side of the story have zero effect.
Apparently decades of media reporting and brainwash have finally created some sort of twisted reality in people’s minds where stranded whale and dolphins are seen as the “sick” ones, the ones that come ashore “to die”, the “old ones”. With such whales and dolphins no campaigns are needed because they are goners anyway, so we can say let the nature take its course. People now can apparently diagnose a whale by merely looking at his photo (recent case with emaciated fin whale in NY, never mind that necropsy did not show any illness btw link ) Incidentally this is what the media and rescues have been telling people for several decades now and clearly it had its effect. Also incidentally, none of it is true as numerous studies, reports and cases from all other the world point otherwise. But when you point it to people, they get upset because nobody likes anyone who challenges their preconceived notions.
How can you change this preconceived notion is a mystery to us. No none listens. Even though necropsy showed no grave illness with NJ fin whale people keep saying he was “to sick”, “too emaciated” to be saved or perhaps that he was “an old whale came ashore to die (btw tis fin whale was a young adult, and the fact is old whales die at sea and rarely strand alive). There were like 5 tweets devoted to this endangered fin whale. When you basically wave the necropsy report in front of their faces showing nothing wrong with the whale, people turn around and say: ‘well, we had no resources, we did what we could, why don’t you go there and use your two own hands to rescue?”. They say it with a straight face despite the fact that rescues in charge are not as poor as they paint themselves to be and can afford some medications, nets and boats to at least try something. For two years now we have been bringing cases from around the world, necropsy reports, studies all of which showing that stranded ceatceans can be rescued and can survive if only people gave a damn about them. And also that evidences show it is OUR activities that drive strandings and cause all these deaths and suffering.
The saddest thing is that it is the public who has the power to save stranded whales and dolphins. The public has power to pressure officials and rescues to do more, to help, to strive to change the situation. But for now the horrid mistreatment of stranded whales continues ONLY because the public has false perception of the situation with stranded whales, refuses to listen, and get’s pissed when preconceived notions are challenged. But it is public’s silence and indifference that helps these atrocities to perpetuate indefinitely.