Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nature is Savage but We're Worse

I have a godzillion posts in my head today . . many will be put in the "One I prepared earlier bucket" but after watching the news . . frustration about so-called withdrawals of Russian Troops from Georgia, Mugabe not being able to form a coalition government, Flooding in Ireland and Hurricane Fay approaching Florida, Australia apparently "failing" miserably at the Olympics (I know,I'm supposed to be boycotting but it's on the news and hey we've been relegated to 5th place in the medal tally with a population of 20 million . .srsly did anyone think we'd be up there - and congrats to GB who are storming ahead this year.)

But heart strings are tugging, I mean really tugging. As I mentioned before, it's whale season here and Adam and I are heading out onto the open seas on August 31st for a Whale Watch Tour but a little baby humpback has been separated from it's mother and is pootling about the calm waters of Pittwater in Sydney, attempting to suckle small boats. I'm so upset. Don't know why but for some reason it's mother has abandoned it and attempts to coerce the little one out to sea aren't working. There are no facilities here big enough to hand raise a humpback so the poor little sap hasn't had a meal since Friday last. Had he been abandoned in San Diego, apparently they have successfully hand reared and released a grey whale there . .

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman John Dengate said today the calf was about two to three weeks old and would not survive for long on its own. "It absolutely needs its mother, or another whale to adopt it,” he said. “It's heart-wrenching. Normally whales stay very very close to their mothers, they're inseparable and they suckle for 11 months before being weaned.” Maybe mum was sick, maybe the baby's a sandwich short of a picnic, or just a very naughty boy who went exploring instead of staying with the program, but there is no saving this little darling who thinks that boat hulls are potential dinner plates.

Pittwater is the inner side of the Palm Beach peninsular. On one side, surf beach (those who watch Home and Away will recognise Palm Beach) on the sheltered side is exclusive hillside housing and the calm refuge of moorings for boat enthusiasts. "Colin" (God it's even worse that they've given him a name, the Stockholm effect is in full swing!) is floundering in the calm waters of Pittwater and hasn't had a feed since Friday.

Attempts to coax him out through the Heads into another pod have failed. He's a baby . . . he's like a three year old lost in a busy shopping centre and incapable of crying "Mummy!" and totally unaware of Stranger Danger!

Poor little Colin has days rather than weeks. Apparently, artificial feeding would not be possible, and the calf's only chance was is to find a female whale that would accept him as her own. Never have I wanted more to be a humpback whale! Unlikely he'll find an adoption since most females are cruising up the coast with their own calves. They're starving, having given birth along the north western coast of the Arctic Circle and Canada, swum just about 12,000 miles along the west coast of the Americas, across the Great Southern Ocean and waiting for the smorgasbord that awaits in Antarctica

This begs the question, intervention or leave alone? I often marvel at documentary makers such as those who make Big Cat Diary and how they can watch these animals fade and flounder without interruption or interference. Personally, I'd net off the entirety of Pittwater, leave the rich and famous isolated (they can do without their yachts for 3 months) and feed the kid formula until he was big and strong and did a Happy Feet kind of mega-sojourn into the Antarctic, wave him off with a big huzzah! "Go Col, kill some Krill!" But sadly wildlife conservation isn't like that.

It seems to me slightly ironic that Greenpeace will cause a helluva hullabaloo to save adult whales from Japanese slaughter in the most in hospitable of environments yet one baby begging for food in the affluent waters of Pittwater faces euthanasia or starvation . . they remember you know! He's a babe in the waters and destined for a dart (ultimately preferable to starving to death I suppose) probably by the end of the week. Poor little possum . . at least he'll end up with a posthumous tale to tell in the Maritime Museum or Sydney Aquarium, where his bones will be displayed as a scientific specimen for all to wonder at and admire. Surely this is madness. Net Pittwater, feed the kid and when he's strong enough (and at the rate they grow, we're talking October) drag him out beyond the heads to catch the stragglers. . . .

God I hate seeing animals suffer . . . it's far worse than people because they have no control over their destiny. We on the other hand devise ways to shoot the shit out of each other, wield machettes, poison our air . . . Shit just happens for animals. Tell me this doesn't tug at your heart strings? If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it fall ?. . . How many others fall without the gaze of Channel 7 Cameras? I don't care, I think we could do something to help this one! Maybe being a mother separated from her own 'calf' has turned me into moosh.



Having read this back I sound quite hard but really, this has made me feel incredibly emotional and highlights the fragility of nature and how lucky some of us are to be who we are . . . maybe my maternal instincts are still intact after all . .

30 comments:

Lottie said...

I nearly cried when I read about this. it's so sad. Hopefully they will be able to reunite the pup (is that right) with it's mother.

This is also in the news today. Not a good day for the animal kingdom. :(

Lehners in France said...

Biano, I can't watch the video link your words were enough. You would think in this day and age there would be something someone could do. Can't they get someone over from San Diego to advise. I hope there is a happy ending, but I fear not. Debs x :-(

laughingwolf said...

i'm with you, baino! :(

i found out first hand gp is only about self-aggrandizement, and does not really care about whales, or anything else that won't put $$$ into their coffers

also, every time i see baby leatherback turtles struggling to get to open water scooped up by gulls, then further predated upon once in the ocean, i just break down....

DJ Mikey said...

Poor little mite, it is a sad state of affairs, that this baby whale has been abandoned. And even sadder that Greenpeace aren't getting envolved.

But it suddenly occurs to me, do Greenpeace know how much pollution their boats are causing. This seems like a double standard to me, like, it's OK for us to pollute we're Greenpeace and were trying to save the world.

Has anyone at Green peace ever heard of sails.

Ces said...

I often wonder why whales get beached or abandoned. I remember seeing eight giant whales on our island shores in Negros Occidental in 1964. I did not even know that there were whales in our inland waters; we knew they were in the ocean. We called them “ballena”. They were not saved, there was no such technology available and when the whales died, the people started slicing the whales to remove the oil. They used it for fuel. My Father, a photographer took photographs of the scene. It was just astounding, the creatures were so huge!

I don’t know why different rules apply for animals. We save Knut and not this one. I suppose we cannot always act as surrogate parents for every abandoned baby animal but the video is rather heart breaking. I wonder if the whale thinks the sail boat is its mother. You think we should try at least but I think the logistical limitations outnumber the possibilities.

Nick said...

I gather the reason Britain is storming ahead in the Olympics is that money from the National Lottery has been poured into training and resources, partly because the government wants the Brits to be chart-toppers in London in 2012. We're not suddenly breeding a race of champions!

Ropi said...

Hungary sucks on the Olympics. We are the 44th but a few Olympics ago we were in the top 10 with 10 million inhabitants. I was away so I just got to know it today.

Quickroute said...

Very sad indeed. The critters are dying every day but it's when you see it on the box you feel powerless.

One swam up the Thames in London a few tears back and lasted about a week before dying. He just looked worse and worse everyday so you know he was suffering poor little mite :-((

Bimbimbie said...

It's a horrible situation for everyone involved in trying to aid little Colin. I just hate the way the likes of Fran Kelly on the radio is asking how many days has he got left?!! The experts say it's not just a simple matter of getting him milk, which is a feat in itself apparently, he has to have his mum to teach him how to be a whale. Surely it would be kinder to euthanase him rather than letting him drown while the tv cameras role.

Baino said...

Hi Lottie. That's tragic isn't it. I've seen this before with Gorillas and Chimps..animals just seem so defenseless in this instance.

Debs I know nature is cruel. How many come unstuck that we don't hear about, at least this little one will be euthanased before he starves.

Wuffa. I support Greenpeace from an awareness point of view but yes, they've become too militant for me, bit like Sea Shepherd.

I know what you mean but that's the problem, if we intervene, we change the natural course of things.

Hi DJ welcome aboard. Haha. I'm doubt even Greenpeace would manage to sail the southern ocean! Bit rough down there . . remember Tony Bullivant being rescued when his yacht capsized . . besides, I guess they have to 'keep up' with the mechanised whalers.

Ces, we're sure the whale thinks the hulls of these boats are potential mums . . makes his plight even more pathetic as he tries to suckle. Strange why whales beach . .happens here a lot too, particularly with the smaller pilot or minke whales. You lived in the Phillipines? My what well travelled commenters I have!

Oh Nick, you're such a cynic! Well whatever you're doing, they're up there in the top five! Not that we'll get to see any of them on Aussie TV ..apparently there are only Australian medalists competing!

Welcome back Ropi, hope you enjoyed your holiday in Greece and Turkey, you're pics are lovely . . haha, try being on a boat for six weeks, now I can tell you a thing or two about sea sickness!

True that quickie. I think it's also that they're endangered so every one that makes it is replenishing the depleted stocks. Especially for Southern Right and Humpbacks. The Thames you say? Man that's off course or what?

Quite so Bimbimbie, I'm pretty sure that's what will happen, (maritime services were talking about it on SBS last night) there's just a dim hope that he might be reunited but . . doesn't look good. I certainly hope they're not keeping him alive for entertainment value!

Kath Lockett said...

Well if you're turning into moosh then I'm right beside you mate. I can't open the link to see it again; I cried enough when I saw it on the news, read it in the paper, heard it talked about on radio, online....

And yes, the rich nobs of Pittwater can live without their yachts and donate their ridiculously expensive annual docking fees towards netting off the area and paying you full time (with benefits) to hand feed it.

Start a petition and I'll sign.

Seriously though, I agree with you entirely re letting animals suffer, especially little ones. We have one of the best docos (made in 1992) called 'Faces in the mob', and they film a young Joey dying after a dingo attack. Yes, it shows the harshness of life but there's no way I'd have been able to stand by and watch. That's why we have brains, resources and guilt - so that we CAN do something.

steph said...

"Once a mother, always a mother."

You have my heart strings tugging now too, Baino

Can't bear to think of Colin...

"I've lost my Mummy" *sob* *sob*

btw Ireland has it's first medal - a definite bronze, and possibly a silver/gold in lightweight boxing.

The country almost came to a standstill with the euphoria today.

Problem is... we have a bit of a reputation of having medals taken away again....ooops!

Baino said...

Oh Kath I remember Faces in the Mob (you foriegners outta have a look). It was so sad. But hey, that would happen whether we interfere or not). I just think being given the opportunity to do so we should at least have a bash. I'd be a shit naturalist!

Yeh Steph, maybe its just the maternal instinct. Haha Ireland for Boxing! Well done . . .My boycott plans are being thwarted at every corner thanks to Drummerboy having a penchant for attractive young gymnasts and me being rather keen on men in lycrra! (I watch out of the corner of my eye . . truly!)

kj said...

i'd say those maternal instincts are in place, baino! and a good thing! i read about this and hope for a happy ending. i've seen whales, many of them, on watches off the coast of provincetown. they are totally stunning. the water changes to a brilliant aqua around them....

take care!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Given my recent wanderings in the bush, this was a really riveting post. One of the things that struck me while in the big out there, was how incredibly harsh nature is. The rangers tell stories of animal infanticide, territorial killings, rank killings, clan wars, dominance, disputes, sexism, ageism etc. As I said to D, it's a case of "eat or be eaten, shag or get beaten".

Nature is hard and it's tough, shit happens, creatures die, are abandoned etc. We come at these things with our human compassion, yet in reality, we're even worse. There's nothing quite like time on the wild side to really make you think.

Jay said...

I'm not sure I can watch the link. I'm okay to deal with suffering animals if there's something I can do, but if I'm helpless, it's just too painful.

Poor Colin. I'm guessing they're hoping that he'll find a substitute mother, but as you say, it doesn't look good. Still, you'd hate to euthanise him too early, just as a lonely mother humpback came sailing into the waters calling for her calf, wouldn't you? It's a very difficult situation. :(

DJ Mikey said...

Actually, a few years ago a whale beached itself here in Northern Ireland. At Larne Harbour, it was very strange. As I wasn't even aware that whales swam in the waters surrounding the british isles.

Steps were taken to try and save the whale, but it was a scenario which no one has ever encountered in this country. Eventually the poor whale died, because no one had a clue what they should be doing.

Perhaps, whales become suicidal too. Maybe beaching is the whale equivalent of hanging. In which case should we intervene. After all we have no idea if there are whale pyschologists.

Sorry, I was just having a little notion, and notions don't have to make sense.

DJ Mikey said...

I know poor colin isn't beached.

But surely without his mother, his fate won't be very much different, than if he were beached. Unless someone steps in and tries to help.

In which case, how do you step in. What measures should be taken.

Surely, there is a Marine Biologist around. Who at least has a theory, if not an actual solution.

Anonymous said...

Off topic but appropriate for all those meetings you have:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bullshit+bingo

Baino said...

kj I've been wanting to do a whale watch for ages but seem to always miss the season so I'm really looking forward to it at the end of the month.

AV . . I know there's little that can be done. I haven't heard any follow up stories so assume they must have euthanased him, surely a better option than starving to death. Your photos by the way are superlative!

DJ Beaching is something different completely. I've heard that it's become more prevolent due to shipping noise perhaps interfering with Whale sonar or a disoriented pod leader bringing in the whole bunch. As for Col well who knows, maybe his mother died, maybe he's sick there's lots of postulating. All i've heard is that it's not just a case of feeding but also 'teaching' him how to be a whale if he's hand reared, they simply grow too big to be practical. Sad as it is.

Baino said...

Notso yes way off topic but thanks for the heads up! *sigh*

Bimbimbie said...

... the tv camera crews are still watching. Talks of towing little Colin out to sea by the Navy but that seems a case of out of sight and hope for the best :(

Grannymar said...

Baino you are a real earth mother!

Go look at the screen properly, otherwise you will get a squint!

Melissa said...

Baino, I heard of this little guy and it just wrenches my heart. I wish someone would *do* something. :( I can't think about it too long or I get really upset. Poor little guy ...

We'll be at the beach this weekend and I hope to see some dolphins -- we often see them jumping out in the deeper parts. I just love them! :)

Ces said...

Baino, I think it's time you change that machine gun-wielding kangaroo with a madonna and child photograph :-)

Megan said...

Poor little guy.

bABYSIS said...

Poor ol' Colin. Greenpeace seem to be a little quiet on this one dont they. I did see a man on the tv this morning that had constructed a device like a whales teat - he also proudly stated he had 6 litres of good cows milk to feed it....mmmm cows milk? aint that for cows? I'd like to see the little bugger saved! I'm with you on netting off pittwater and SAVING COLIN!!!! SAVE THE WHALE AND ALL THAT!

Baino said...

Bimbimbie that sounds like drag him out and leave him to the sharks!

Ces never! Otherwise they'll think me soft and that would never do!

Melissas really, he's made news in the US. Fancy that.

Megan, quite so but I'm beginning to think euthanasia is the way to go.

Babysis, really? I read that they're actually contacting San Diego zoo with a view to finding a solution so there's hope yet. Looks like they're going to 'pontoon' him and drag him through the heads in the hope there's a passing pod that will pick him up

Baino said...

Final comment on the saga that is calming Colin. He is to be euthanased tomorrow. That is providing it doesn't break our international whaling agreement that forbids the killing of a whale in Australian waters . . .for goodness sake! I live in a world gone mad.

Bimbimbie said...

Did you see the Whale Whisperer communicating with him on the evening news? he seemed to think there was something wrong with Colin's eyes, not sure if that would be part of the reason he was abandoned or because of his not been able to feed for several days.