And then there were two…
by Guest Blogger
December 22, 2005
When I saw my first whale in the wild I cried joy-filled happy tears. I also cried today when I saw a family of three minke whales, one of them a baby, all swimming along together. But this time I can’t stop crying, I can hardly breath and it feels like my heart is being strangled in my chest, for I have just witnessed the violent death of a creature so sublime, so exquisite and of such wordless beauty that I am now numbed by the extremity of my own selfish pain.
I was standing in the sun and icy wind on the bow of the Arctic Sunrise. Just ahead of us the whale hunter ship the Kyo Maru was in pursuit of the three minkes which were just swimming along doing what they do, heading somewhere with their own plan, for their own reasons.
Spirits were high onboard as already today our tiny little inflatable boat had foiled the whalers attempts to harpoon at least two different minke whales, both of which had escaped and disappeared into the pack ice. The hunter ship may be bigger and faster than our little boat but no matter how many fancy moves it made there was just no shaking us off…and then out of nowhere the three minke whales appeared and rather than the usual squeals of joy heard when whales are sighted, a tangible and almost visible shadow of dread descended…one boat and three whales…suddenly we needed a miracle.
For over half-an-hour the inevitable was postponed but there was no way to cover and protect all three whales. I stood on the bow of the Sunrise physically and emotionally frozen but with child-like hopes shimmering in the back of my mind. Maybe the whales would decide to turn 180 degrees and disappear? Maybe they would hold their breath longer than we ever thought possible and swim away unseen…
The grenade-tipped harpoon exploded like a cannon as it hit one of the whales. It hurt my ears and its fading echo was replaced by a primal cry escaping from my soul through my mouth accompanying the cries of the two other crew standing near me. I can only thank god that I cannot hear the cries coming from that sacred and exquisitely beautiful creature that was now being dragged from the water, away from its family and away from life…