Somehow, I always knew my life would never be the same once I saw a whale. Not sure why, just always knew. Now, unfortunately, it’s true; my life has changed and I can’t figure out what to do next. It may not have been an earth shattering experience and no, I didn’t get to pet him or scuba dive along side and scratch his tongue, but it was nonetheless, life changing. And to top it off, it wasn’t even in an exotic locale like Hawaii or Alaska, but in humble little New Jersey.
The boat was full of onlookers ready to see the historic lighthouse landmarks that dot the inner channel of the Delaware Bay which we did and it was an amazing experience.
But, when “Herman” (my new pet name for the whale) showed up, I about fell overboard in excitement.
Some people rushed to the side to see him as the very conscientious captain slowed the boat down, others pulled on their sunglasses and took a nap in the warm sun on the aft deck. Me? The range of emotions running through my brain ranged from an excited, “holy ****, that’s a real whale!” to a rush of wet tears sliding down my face.
“Herman” is a humpback whale that frequents the Delaware Bay in search of food in the shallow waters; tiny crustaceans and even small fish are his main nutrition source. There have been numerous sightings of these creatures, probably even my Herman, but there are also reports of washed up dead whales which saddens me greatly. I do not know why; if it’s pollution in the waters, boat motor strikes or a lack of food, but somehow I just feel that this isn’t supposed to happen. As a spokesperson from NOAA commented about recent strandings of whales in the Atlantic Coast area says, it might be signaling a problem with ocean health. The humpback whale has been removed from the endangered species act, but it also took them decades for their population to rebound. One of the most recent whales this past April to wash up was a juvenile and as sad as I am to say, it was entangled in fishing nets. Such majestic creatures shouldn’t have to die like that! But what can we do? What can one woman with a blog do?
We can make the conscious decision to stop putting our heads in the sand and pretend that the tragedy of decreasing wildlife populations whether at sea or on land, will just go away if we don’t think about it. Humans are increasing by approximately 353,000 per second on this planet. And if there are approximately 80,000 humpback whales worldwide today, with each birth taking about 11 months to produce one calf, you do the math. Is there any way to help the wildlife population on this planet before it’s too late? Yes! You can find your own cause to be involved with. Be it saving the humpback whale or the National Wildlife Federation’s valiant efforts to save the American Bison, there are many compassionate individuals and organizations to donate your time or your money to.
Herman, as it turns out has been feeding in Delaware Bay for a while now, or so the wise folks at Cape May Whale Watcher say. As we neared the whale, he gave us a show and bobbed up and down, blew a few times from his blow hole and then disappeared. My heart leaped with joy and grief at the same time. Joy seeing one of the most majestic creatures on the planet, one that has been around for millions of years. And sadness, knowing what mankind has done in a selfish response to the gentle nature of the whale. Hunting them to the brink of extinction, even using the smallest part of the animal and then wasting the rest, letting it rot in a disgusting show of human arrogance.
Can we do it? Can we pull our heads out of the sand and band together to save the world’s most wild and fantastic beings? From the remote corners of Africa where the lions, elephant and rhino populations are dwindling fast, to the oceans off the coast of Antarctica where the Japanese still hunt whales by the hundreds. We can do this – but it takes commitment and compassion. Teaching children is the most important element to ensure future populations of wildlife survive. And money – giving money to the organizations who are out there on the front lines every day from Yellowstone National Park to Delaware Bay.
Although the Bible says God said in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
It also says that God never sanctioned cruel treatment of them. The Bible says, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” (Proverbs 12:10).
So, I challenge you this week; amidst the pomp and circumstance of Independence Day, alongside fireworks displays and crowded beaches, take a few minutes to really think on what you’d like to see for the future of wildlife. Then, let’s take steps together to save these miraculous creatures, big and tall, slimy and small before it’s too late.
How will you make a difference in the lives of our animal friends today?