Watching Whales Watching Us

The link–the main points of the article were

  • We’re killing whales with a sonic assault

brains and ears. The results of the examinations performed on the Canary Islands whales, however, added a whole other, darker dimension to the whale-stranding mystery. In addition to bleeding around the whales’ brains and ears, scientists found lesions in their livers, lungs and kidneys, as well as nitrogen bubbles in their organs and tissue, all classic symptoms of a sickness that scientists had naturally assumed whales would be immune to: the bends.

It might sound like something out of a bad sci-fi film: whales sent into suicidal dashes toward the ocean’s surface to escape the madness-inducing echo chamber that we humans have made of their sound-sensitive habitat. But since the Canary Islands stranding in 2002, similar necropsy results have turned up with a number of beached whales, and the deleterious effects of sonar and other human-generated sounds on ocean ecosystems have been firmly established.

  • We’ve killed them before and yet….  the gray whales in Baja let us come right up and touch their babies-do they remember the slaughter humans carried out there…?

Earth’s oil, meanwhile, had by then more or less obviated our need for the whale’s, which, because of its inherent resistance to extreme cold, is used now only in the most specialized machinery of, appropriately enough, sea and space exploration: deep-diving subs, Mars and lunar rovers and the Hubble Space Telescope.