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Posts tagged ‘conservation’

The Majesty of Whales

Before I share with you a terrific video, let me share my ongoing fascination with whales. I suppose my interest started when I was younger and enjoyed the Shamu Shows at Sea World.  Back then, I did not worry about the rights of these magnificent creatures and whether they could survive in the wild instead of being treated as a money-making attraction.  They were huge, strong, powerful, and intelligent yet gentle with the trainers.  Of course, as more recent events have shown, they also remain unpredictable wild animals.  Still, it was always a wondrous show, even better if you were caught in the splash zone. 

But, over the years, seeing them in the wild was even better—and they were still strong and powerful.  I have had the opportunity to see them in the wild several times on various whale watching trips.  The breaches and flips and air spouts are just that much more dramatic in real life. My camera was a simple 35 mm camera back then with no telephoto lenses, so I rarely captured good photos, but somehow that makes the memories more special for being more fleeting. 

One trip was special in that the whales observed were not the ones expected.  On a trip from Ventura, California, out to the Anacapa Islands, we expected to see migrating Gray Whales. Instead, a family of Killer Whales was in the area, probably hunting for the Grays, so I am glad the two groups did not meet as that is not a scene from nature I would care to observe.  But we did see a lot of the Killer Whales.  The pilot of the boat had never seen Killer Whales before either, so she was ecstatic and spent more time loitering with the whales than the tour called for.  The whale pod stayed together, too, seeming to play, especially with the several young whales within the group. 

Since the killer whale pod stayed in the area for some time, when the tour group was finally atop Anacapa Island, hiking by the lighthouse, we could still see them off in the distance in all their glory.  They seemed to be just enjoying the afternoon, almost as if they were at a family reunion.  This view of the whales emphasized their communal nature and gentleness as the adult whales seemed to be playing with and training the younger ones.  It confirmed that there is an intelligence and dignity evident in these giant beautiful creatures as well as their power and strength.  

Given my love of whales, it is no surprise that I really enjoyed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, released in November 1986. For those who have not seen this film, the story line focuses on how Humpback Whales were driven to extinction and then were needed in the future to save mankind from an alien probe, looking for the long lost whales. The Star Trek crew traveled back in time and saved two Humpback Whales to bring them into the future to save the world.  Yeah, it’s hokey—but believable in the context of the film, and the message is a moving testament to the need to protect whales from pollution and international whaling practices.

Because I so appreciate whales, I often feel like I should be doing more to help them, to protect them in their native habitat. So, yes, I have adopted whales in the wild and donated to various funds to work against whaling practices.  I have some CD recordings that feature whale song and I love learning more about whales through research and documentaries.  But my contact with them is never going to be very personal, very one-on-one.  My concern for dogs, for example, could lead me to volunteering at the humane society or even taking in a stray or two.  But how often does a human get a chance to help a specific whale, one-on-one? 

Below is a video that shows that such a personal interaction is possible between whales and humans—and the interaction can be rewarding for all involved.  A good friend sent me this video link, a friend I have actually been whale watching with!   I think it shows the majesty of the whales as well as the kindness and courage of the humans who set out to help! 

I trust you will enjoy Saving Valentina! And if you did not already have a wonder and respect for whales in general, maybe this video will help change your mind.  The video is produced by the Great Whale Conservancy.

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What is a man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”  Chief Seattle

Earth Day Then & Now: How “Green” Are You?

I remember the first Earth Day well. I was 15 and a freshman in high school. I was already concerned about the environment. No, I was urgently worried, having just re-read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I was aghast at how we were mismanaging our world and her precious resources.

One day at church, during some sort of Earth-Day Program as part of the regular service, I stood at the lectern and loudly chastised the congregation. After all, God had set the stage for us to take care of the planet: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:27). I focused on the word “dominion” and emphasized the connotation of care, responsibility and concern that should be a part of the power and control inherent in having dominion over the world. I was as distraught as an indignant teen could be: Just look what we were doing to the world!

I am not sure the congregation noticed my courageous and daring spirit. My mom did say I enunciated very well. Still, I felt like an activist, and I carried that sense of determination and action with me as I grew. I intended to protect the planet! And then I grew up and got a job and moved away. Life got hectic, and I slowly but surely gave way to convenience over conscience. Oh, I still felt like an activist concerned for the environment, but my deeds did not fully match that sentiment.

Now, 41 years later, I realize that Kermit was right: “It is not easy being green.” After all, green’s specialized meaning is more prevalent these days. It is most often used as an adjective, attached like a badge of honor to an activity, company, or person that works diligently to care for the earth. One is said to be green by respecting nature, preserving resources, and minimizing the impact on the world around us. In an ideal world, we all would consciously work at being more and more green, if not for ourselves, for our children.

I still think of myself as a champion of the world, but—in reality—that is not true. And I do not think I am alone in that lack of commitment. We all know what we could be doing, but it is a challenge to break old habits and give up convenience. Do you recycle, everything? Consolidate errands to one big trip—or explore online shopping? Avoid bottled water in favor of re-useable containers? Buy green products whenever you can? Walk to work, or maybe carpool? Drive an electric vehicle or even an energy-efficient one? Properly dispose of oil and cell phones and such? Maybe volunteer to help clean the beaches and fields that so often are clogged with our refuse? Vote to try and elect officials who will work to preserve our resources and avoid such atrocities as the recent Gulf Coast oil spill?

I know I answer “No!” to way too many of those questions. But I do want to be green! Going green is often one of my new year’s resolutions. It will take more than desire, however; it requires action to truly become green in word and deed. About a year ago, I did take one small step in the right direction: I became a Melaleuca preferred customer.

Melaleuca is a company that has been producing over 350 household, personal care, and wellness products for 25 years now. But, more importantly, Melaleuca has been a pioneer in environmental wellness since its inception. In fact, being green is one of Melaleuca’s core values. The company demonstrates its core value by using sustainable natural ingredients as well as no caustic chemicals, by reducing packaging as much as possible which includes concentrated products and reusable bottles, and by conducting extensive research to ensure they are producing the most effective products.

I have been using Melaleuca products for months now and am finding them very effective. The convenience of online ordering is terrific, and I am spending no more than I was before and sometimes even saving money. The best thing, however, is that I feel a bit more green these days. I think my teenage self would be pleased.

What are you doing to be more green?

NOTE: If anyone is interested in exploring Melaleuca, just go to their website and poke around. The company keeps costs manageable by avoiding national marketing and distribution, which simply means you have to go to them to find their products. You need to be sponsored to become a preferred customer, so if you are interested, just let me know and I can help.

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