When a species of an animal or plant becomes extinct, it ceases to exist on earth. This may seem like a very obvious statement, but it is important to remember exactly what “endangered” means and what a threatened species is in danger of becoming. There are many species today who are close to extinction mainly because people throughout the years have hunted these animals like crazy. One of these species who were hunted for thousands of years, for the sale of the endless resources they offered is Whales. These animals were so over hunted, that certain classes of whales may not be able to be saved.
Whales are revealing their intelligence and amazing communication abilities to scientists in one part of the world, while in another they are being ruthlessly slaughtered for pet food, lipstick, and oil. Once they swam in enormous numbers, communicating in complex sounds thought to carry over distances so wide, possibly carrying from Antarctica to Alaska. Unfortunately, whales may not be able to receive communications from other whales, which are anymore distant than a few hundred kilometers anymore. Their communication is interfered with by the sound of ships motors, sounds that must be as painful to whales ears as a truck on a highway is to humans ears.
The decimation of great whales has been going on for centuries, one species after another hunted to levels so low that it is no longer profitable to hunt them. As early as the eighteenth century the Basques of northern Spain hunted the Atlantic Right Whale for meat and whalebone. It was so named by English whalers because it was “right” for their purpose, easy to kill, peaceful and slow moving, feeding in shallow coastal water on plankton and krill, which is strained through its baleen plates. The Atlantic Right Whale was eliminated from the European coastal feeding areas by 1700, and whalers began pursuing it as far west as Newfoundland. The killing of this species continued into the 1900s, until 1910, when there were no more to be found. After seven hundred years of persecution, its no wonder why they never recovered their numbers.
The Japanese and Russian dominated all pelagic whaling from the 1950s on with their huge factory ships. Whaling concentrated on the pacific and southern ocean where soviet and Japanese ships depleted Fin, Sperm and Sei Whale Populations.
Conservationists pressed for protections on the national and international levels. U.S. Secretary of Interior, Walter Hickel placed eight great whales on the endangered species list banning import in the face of much opposition, since the U.S. Company was still whaling and large amounts of whale products were imported. In 1971 the U.S. Secretary of Commerce terminated U.S. commercial whaling. Also in 1971, the congress passed a resolution calling on the Secretary of state to negotiate a ten-year moratorium on commercial whaling. In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the human environment unanimously voted a similar resolution, which was later adopted by the UN General Assembly. Only ten days later, the IWC rejected the U.S. proposal moratorium with only 4 of 16 members voting in favor. Instead they adopted the so-called “New Management Procedure” (NMP) under which whale populations were allowed to be reduced to 54% of the estimated original population.
Whaling is a hunt that dates back to the 1700s and is probably the most massive slaughter of animals of all time. Whaling is considered, and was considered a sport as well as an occupation. Unfortunately it took the near extinction of these animals to make people stop killing them, and start protecting them. Whales are still captivated by aquariums, for show and to make money as an attraction. The whales are still being taken out of their natural habitat, but at least they are still alive. Whales were very close to joining the dinosaurs in the history books, but people were just in time to realize what these great animals were in danger of becoming.
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