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Save the Whales, Save Ourselves: Why Whales Matter

Joel Reynolds

Posted October 15, 2013 in Reviving the World's Oceans, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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I’m often asked why people care so much about whales.  There isn’t a simple answer. 

It's been debated for a long time by experts who've dedicated their careers to studying them. Biologically, they're the largest mammals on Earth.  Ecologically, they're the top of the food chain, and, like countless species, their survival is inextricably tied to ours. 

But there is more to it than that.

baja.whale Picture.sobol.jpg

Whales are nature in its grandest form.  They inspire awe, because they're magnificent, massive, beautiful, powerful, and mysterious.  Like giant sequoias but mammals -- like us, except on a prehistoric, mythological, global scale.  Everything about them is huge -- their size, their sounds, their range, their strength, their history.

They are ancient, like living dinosaurs, managing so far to survive every planetary disaster or human-caused threat, intentional and incidental, from hunting to habitat loss to pollution.  But they are gentle, inquisitive, intuitive, forgiving, and sentient.  More highly evolved than we are in ways that are obvious and, in ways we don't understand, more intelligent.

They have unique political, social, and cultural significance -- for ancient cultures and the modern world.  They've become a symbol of our hopes for human survival, for the health of our oceans, and for the conservation of nature.  They inspired the "Save the Whales" movement, which fundamentally is about the struggle between short-term human greed and the diversity and richness of life for generations to come. 

If we can't save the whales, what hope is there for the rest of us?  I believe we can save the whales and, in doing so, we may save ourselves.  

And there's the irony:  In saving the whales, we may find it's the whales that save us.

Take action now.

Photo Credit: Richard Sobol

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Comments

barbara clementOct 17 2013 02:52 PM


Save the Whales, Save the Oceans, Save your Children's World.

Jody EvansOct 17 2013 02:54 PM

All of the critters of the sea deserve to live free. Hunting and especially noise pollution need to stop. I don't see them coming into our homes and slaughtering us or driving us mad with sonic noise pollution. We, as a species, need to remember that just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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