Posted by: S. Campbell | October 30, 2011

My Feelings on “Whaling”

Between class discussions about whales in general and recently a presentation by Brittney on “The Cove” with an in-depth analysis got me thinking about the whaling industry. What is going on in that industry? Whales are magnificent creatures, and I had never truly thought about their character and existence till finishing Moby Dick. These creatures can be gigantic in size, but because the ocean is such an elusive out-of-sight world, we as humans hardly ever encounter whales in the wild. I say in the wild, since you can see them up close and personal at SeaWorld, for a price. Literally and metaphorically speaking. As I thought about this, I started to have a sinking feeling within my stomach about the possibility that the whaling industry might be in for some major consequences.
I enthusiastically love Japanese culture, and anybody who knows me knows I think the high technology and style of Japan is really unique. However, after seeing “The Cove” unravel the issues about capturing dolphins, I then started to think about the whales. I know that Japan has a taste for whales, and so I went to do a keyword search in news articles. Just today, I saw an article just written today on the Seattle Post that claims “Their (Japanese) stance on whaling has gone from puzzling to illogical as they pump millions into the costly whaling industry, when Japan has yet to recover from the devastation of last year’s earthquake.” (Seattle Post) From what the article, and subsequently, many others are saying is that the Japanese are using loopholes in the guidelines to kill even more whales than they should, even though Japan “claims to have an aboriginal right to kill whales.” I understand that Japan must look to the ocean to help support its population, but overkill is unjustifiable. No matter what reasons are given.
On a semi-good note, the whaling industry profitable income has gone down due to rising fuel costs. That is good for the whales, although it hasn’t solved the issue at all. However, that puts already crisis-ridden Japan in a tough spot as well. This is where I start getting extremely confused because while I sympathize with all that has come to pass for Japan, I also don’t feel it’s the world’s responsibility to have to ‘save’ them. Every nation has its own set of issues. Then I flip-flop again, knowing that we, as the United States, have directly ties to Japan since they are our joined-at-the-hip country. Yet we are allowing the overkill to happen, but only because it seems there is no ‘logical’ answer to all this.
In Chapter 65 of Moby Dick, Ishmael says “The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the whale would by all hands be considered a noble dish, were there not so much of him; but when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes away your appetite.” When I think about it, I totally understand what he is saying. The idea that I would be consuming something so large in its full size that it might make me sick that I, a mere human, am allowed to eat this enormous mammal. It seems so unnatural that we can kill something that is so much larger than us, something that spends its life hiding below the deep waters of the sea. Human intellect and survival of the fittest aside, it just still seems wrong.
Rereading chapter 65 of Moby Dick disturbs me a little now. I am not a vegetarian, but I know I have a healthy respect for the things I eat. Yet, still, the idea of eating a whale still mystifies me.


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