Whales! It is shocking how the largest creature that ever lived on this planet is at the threat of vanishing forever. Our selfishness has grown so immensely that sometimes we almost close our hearts and eyes to benefit us. We forget that just as we are meant to be on this magnificent planet we are meant to share! Share this beautiful gift with other beautiful beings. This humble giant is so unique and beautiful. Its existence is just as vital to us.
These wonderful creatures have untold secrets with them, secrets of the deep oceans.
Whales have been hunted from time immemorial. Early men hunted whales since 2,200 BC. They used them as their staple diet and many other things that whales could provide them. In the cold regions along the coast, these were among the few things they could find to eat. Whale meat provided those sufficient fats that where necessary for them to keep warm. They used their blubber as fuel for burning their fires. This is still practiced by some of the Inuit societies of the poles!
But once industrialization began, and humans realized the amount of product they could extract from whales, hunting of these gentle giants grew widely.
An entire whale, once hunted is of immense value. There are so many parts of this animal, and each can be used for human benefit. It is truly a magical mammal. Here is a list of just a few products that one may produce from parts of a hunted whale:
- Food- its meat can be primarily used as feed for humans and animals alike.
- Blubber- its fat or blubber is very useful. It acts as a great fuel and can produce strong grease which wen consumed, provides energy and protection from heat.
- Production of industrial oils
- Body butters
- Whale bones have great medicinal purposes
- Candles (spermaceti oil from the sperm whale)
- Collar stays
- Small fish traps from bone like , comb shaped Baleen
- Springs in early typewriters
- Chess pieces
- Piano keys
- Handles on walking sticks
- Lubricants in machine tools
- Cosmetics such as lipsticks
- Tennis rackets
- Corsets in the early 19th century
The above image is of a scrimshaw. Telling a story of a whale.
These products and much more could be extracted out of a single whale. The advantage that these sailors had is that 1 whale is almost equal to 2000 people. So they can gain a lot of quantity of product from hunting down just one whale. This brings them revenue that can sustain their lives for years. Thus they found that the time and energy they spend in hunting down even one whale is worthwhile.
Hunting whales has improved over the years.
In early days – Slow swimming whales that rarely came near the coast where hunted for food.
As ships and sailing ventures began- People traveled in search of whales into deep seas and vast oceans. They used harpoons to kill them.
After industrialization- Powerful ships were introduced and explosive harpoons and power guns where used to hunt. The ships used motors and machines hence they were faster, so whales could be now individually stalked and hunted brutally.
Thus hunting techniques improved with technology and more whales were killed for greed. This has led to over-exploitation. Nature couldn’t balance out the digits, the number of whales hunted down regularly where much more than the number of whales that were born. This caused a drastic decline in the population of whales all over the world. Some whales have an extremely small population in today’s time. Blue whales are approximately 4,000 in their numbers and less than 2,000 right whales exist. These numbers are at threats of decreasing every day.
Pollution is another great cause which is effecting the survival of these animals. The changes in climate, which are caused by global warming and many other human activities, are too sudden for these creatures to adjust with. Thus making them a weaker species and causing their elimination. Simple hazards such as plastic bags in the open sea are huge problems and too hard for them to handle. Many sea creatures including whales face this problem. Instances were reported where animals were found to have died due to trapping by plastic bags or by choking on them. Humans tend to ignore how even minute activities which might not seem so dangerous to them, prove to be fatal to important species of nature.
Many countries and individual organisations are now taking initiatives to protect these beautiful species and this has proved to be the most successful way forward. Until each and every individual realizes his responsibility toward these animals, they are at a threat. Whales may be giants but they are one of the most harmless creatures. Most of them are vegetarians and live on tiny microscopic plankton as their diet. They cannot defend themselves. As the so called “superior” species, it is our responsibility to protect them. And if cannot protect them, then at least we must stop being the ones that harm them for our greed.