Whales, those huge magnificent creatures that inhabit our oceans are now threatened on many fronts by a species that either views them as a resource or an obstacle, mankind.

For them it’s either death from an exploding harpoon, or maybe a deafeningly loud military sonar (1) or seismic guns used for oil exploration that drives them away or renders their inbuilt senses useless for finding food.

Then there is the rubbish we discard into the oceans as well as climate change for them to contend with.

We have hunted them down over hundreds of years without a care for their welfare or the longevity of the species believing the ocean to be a never-ending larder. Until the setting up of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1946 that is, so that stocks could be maintained for future harvesting.

And as we need to extend our search ever further for new resources in the quest for human ‘advancement’ we will inevitably encroach further and further into the whales’ habitat.

The latest International Whaling Commission meeting in Jersey has heard how oil exploration techniques are threatening the critically endangered gray whale population around the Russian Island of Sakhalin, north of Japan.

According to a BBC report there are only 26 breeding females left of this species with a total of 130 remaining. Sakhalin is their only known feeding ground.

The Russian IWC commissioner, Valentin Ilyashenko, told the BBC "Human activities do influence the western gray whale; our task is to minimise the impact from human activities. But we can't stop [human] progress, and we can't stop using oil."

The most awful thing about all this is that there is no real humane method of quickly killing such huge animals. There are reports that it can take several days for a whale to die.

The whale situation shows how far the planet is now controlled by those that put profit before all else. Whether it be profit from killing whales no matter how they suffer, to putting oil profit or military need before the whales’ welfare.

What a strange race we are. Some of us ready to rescue stranded whales, with others prepared to stand off the coast with harpoons to spear them after they have been freed, when allowed to.

(1) www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonarvideo/video.asp

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