Tag Archives: Victoria

Whales, War Games, and National Security – Whales as Practice Targets?

In World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, America lurched into protectionist overdrive. Understandably fearful of attack to our west coast cities, people hunkered in their homes at night, blackening the windows lest the Japanese bombers use the lights as guides for attack. Eventually the fear grew to a hysteria that allowed decent people to turn their backs as Japanese-American citizens were marched off to internment camps.
The military response was to take draconian measures to protect our harbors:

When news reached San Francisco of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all off-duty personnel were recalled to their units and the harbor defenses put on full alert. Soldiers moved out of their barracks and into the batteries, and began filling sandbags, stringing barbed wire and constructing beach defenses at a fevered pace. Up and down the coast, observers in tiny concrete observation posts scanned the horizon for the approach of a Japanese fleet that would never come.
As the days and weeks progressed, the initial fear of imminent invasion settled into a long-term commitment to defend the harbor by every means possible. Mobile antiaircraft guns, searchlights and radars were positioned on virtually every hill and knoll overlooking the Golden Gate. The U.S. Navy stretched an antisubmarine net across the inner harbor extending from the Marina in San Francisco to Sausalito in Marin, and stationed a navy tugboat to open and close the net to allow friendly shipping to pass. Soldiers assigned to the fortifications and observation stations constructed extensive earthwork trenches on the hillsides near their batteries, and in some cases tunneled into hillsides to construct unauthorized but comfortable underground quarters. Everywhere, camouflage paint was daubed on concrete batteries and wood barracks, and acres of camouflage nets were stretched over fortifications to obscure their presence from high flying enemy planes. Overhead, navy blimps armed with depth charges patrolled offshore waters searching for Japanese submarines but only attacked the occasional unfortunate whale.

Again, the last sentence: “Overhead, navy blimps armed with depth charges patrolled offshore waters searching for Japanese submarines but only attacked the occasional unfortunate whale.”
While it may seem that the “occasional unfortunate whale” is an acceptable outcome of military over-zealousness, it was widely believed that the navy used whales as practice targets during WW I and WW II, and the massive detonations of naval warfare must have deafened and killed a multitude of whales and dolphins.
In 1956, the American Navy was sent to destroy the entire population of killer whales in Iceland:

Viewing these events through the lens of history shows us that while threats to security are real, thoughtless overreacting and fear mongering have no place in the modern world. Our fears allow us to be manipulated and controlled – by governments and corporations that reap the benefits of power and money:

Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. … the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. – Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg trials, April 18, 1946. (Wikipedia)

The recent death of an endangered Southern Resident killer whale by explosive force has underscored the need to curtail the military exuberance for war games.  It is not known at this point whether the American or Canadian navies were involved for certain, but both regularly discharge explosives and loud sonar in whale habitats.


ACT NOW!  Email kimberly.kler@navy.mil, michael.payne@noaa.gov
With this in the subject lineNEPA scoping comments for Northwest Training and Testing
AND TELL THEM YOUR OPINION!  Midnight, April 27th 2012 is the deadline, but write them even if you miss the date.  Your opinion counts.

Luna the Whale’s Gift – He Taught Us What We Are in Danger of Losing

The recent death of the young orca Victoria (L-112) who was killed by an explosive force may seem to some to be inconsequential in the scope of the need for military preparedness. Somehow we humans think that this planet is ours alone, and that our petty squabbles are so important that we have the right to destroy not just each other, but potentially most of life on Earth.
We rely upon world leaders to keep the scale of our conflicts within bounds, to limit where and how the military forces can practice with bombs, gasses, diseases, and sound. Once thought to be both bountiful and indestructible, the planet’s oceans seemed to be the logical alternative.
But now we know better, we know that the life of the sea is in peril everywhere, that the oceans are losing their capacity to absorb abuse, and that military excursions can destroy – in seconds – entire communities of animals.
What are we losing? The story of Luna (L-98), shows us the nature of a species that may turn out one of the only other friendly intelligent beings in a lonely universe. This particular population of orcas, the Southern Residents, is unique and when they are gone they will take with them a rare and irreplaceable culture. (Please take our poll on the Navy impact).
The filmmakers have now made it possible for you to show this touching tale in your own community.

Movie on the Move – Book your screening now!
 
Wherever you live, you can now host your own screening of The Whale through our new screening program, Movie on the Move!
The home video DVD won’t be out for a few more months, but we are now offering the film to any individual or group that wants to host a screening. There will be a fee in advance, but no revenue sharing will be required if you charge admission, no matter how much your group makes. You keep all the proceeds.
That makes it very easy to use The Whale for fundraisers or for any other kind of event. In the fundraisers for which the film has already been used, thousands of dollars have been raised for worthy causes.
Here’s how it works. You book the film, you organize the venue, and you decide what you’d like to do. You can use it as a fundraiser; you can show it to your film group or church group or school or NGO; you can charge admission; you can open the doors to anyone. It’s up to you.
We will provide you with a DVD or Blu-ray, and still photos, videos, and other information to help you promote your screening. We can also help with posters, and when possible we can arrange for one of the directors to do a post-screening Skype video call. We can also help promote your screening on our website and on our social media networks.
The license fee for a community group or non-profit fundraising screening is $250. For film festivals and commercial screenings, the fee is $350.
Questions? For more information and to book your screening, please e-mail us directly at suzanne@thewhalemovie.com.

Dead Orca Calf is Three Year Old Victoria, One of the Endangered Southern Resident Orcas

This young orca’s death following traumatic injuries has left everyone puzzled – there are only two predators that could inflict this kind of damage: another whale, or humans. Did she get hit by a boat? Have her hearing blown by underwater noise? Was she attacked by unrelated transient (dolphin eating) whales? We may never know, but hopes are high that her death will yield information about the diet, contaminants, genealogy, and stressors on this population of orcas.
That is little comfort though, and her death is another blow to the struggling population.

Little Victoria, L-112, was named for the beautiful city waterfront where she was first seen in January 2009. She had grown into a robust juvenile.

Playing with mom, L-86

L112 with big brother L106 Photo by Ken Balcomb on September 11, 2011

From Cascadia Research Collective:

A detailed external and internal examination was conducted on February 12, 2012 of a stranded killer whale that washed up just north of Long Beach, Washington on the morning of February 11. The 12’3” (3.75m) juvenile female was taken to a secure location for a full necropsy by biologists and volunteers from a number of organizations that are part of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, including Portland State University, Cascadia Research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations, Seaside Aquarium, Seattle Seal Sitters, the Makah Tribe, and NOAA Fisheries.
The whale was moderately decomposed and in good overall body condition.
Internal exam revealed significant trauma around the head, chest and right side; at this point the cause of these injuries is unknown.
There have been reports of sonar activity in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the past week and a half and members of K and L pod were reportedly in the area at the time as well.
We do not know if this whale was among those in the area but the possibility is under consideration. The skeleton will be cleaned and closely evaluated by Portland State University for signs of fracture and the head has been retained intact for biological scanning. Additionally, samples were taken for a variety of analyses: genetics, contaminants, bacteriology, virology, food habits, biotoxins and histopathology. The processing of these tissue samples could take several weeks or months and will hopefully provide insight into the origin of the traumatic injuries or other factors that may have contributed to the death of this whale.