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