Once considered an endangered species as a consequence of commercial whaling, the humpback whale has now made a strong comeback since the ban was enforced on hunting these gentle giants. Today there are about 80,000 humpback whales in our world’s oceans. Though they have escaped the perils of being hunted, these whales are not completely free of danger. The remaining perils for the humpback whales are noise pollution, fishing net entanglement and now as a result of Fukushima, radiation poisoning. Just recently this year, the whale loving community made a strong, winning stand against the U.S. Navy, and their disrespectful attempt to test loud sonar devices in the ocean. Whales sensitivity to noise pollution has been known to damage their hearing which alters their sense of direction. Such damage can result in their accidental collisions with large ships at sea as well as life threatening alterations in their migrational patterns. The humpback whales entrapment in fishing nets is becoming more common. A friend sent me this heart-warming whale tale yesterday, which I have added below this post, about a recent rescue. She knows how much I love the whales.
It restores my faith in mankind when I hear of these whale rescues, and the subsequent, apparent gratitude displayed by the whales released from captivity. These singing giants of the ocean are special creatures in touch with their heart. They are the record keepers of all life on our planet; and thus, their extinction would imply an apocalyptic end to life on the Earth.
Some basic facts about humpback whales:
▪ Humpback whales perhaps travel the greatest distances during migration than any other species of animals. Migrations have been documented from 3000 to as much as 16,000 miles.
▪ Humpbacks migrate north in summer to colder climates during feeding season, then south in winter to warmer waters during the breeding season.
▪ Some studies are now revealing even longer migration distances in response to changes in the climate, ocean temperatures and abundant food supply.
▪ These whales sing, and are famous for their humpback whale songs. These melodic tones are a means of communication which travel very fast in water, and sometimes the songs last for more than 24 hours.
▪ Humpbacks tend towards solitary travel, or in very small pods of only 2 to 3 other whales.
Animal medicine has great significance in many cultures. These gentle, singing giants have been attributed the role of the great record keepers with their long, enduring ocean presence. They have see, heard and felt everything. Some cultures associate the whales with tranquility and peace while in others they represent protection, strength and leadership. For many, humpback whale symbolism is closely related to a mother’s love and protection for her child.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating facts about these whales is their intelligence. Similar cells have been found to exist in the very same brain areas of both humpbacks and humans. Not only have the whales had these so called “spindle” cells twice as long as man, it is thought the humpbacks have more of them than humans while their brains are also larger than man’s brain. We may have a lot yet to learn from these gentle giant sea creatures. The whale tale certainly speaks of the humpback whale’s capacity for love and gratitude. And these are two virtues of which mankind could use more.
Recent Humpback Whale Rescue
A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so badly off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her…. a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.
When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.
The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
May you be so fortunate … To be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.
And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.