102 People… Oh, and One Whale

The recent main news in Japan was that of a high-speed ferry accident in which 102 people were injured. It was likely that the ferry, named Toppy, had struck a whale in an Kagoshima inlet (southern most part of the four main islands of Japan).

While I feel truly sorry about the injuries I feel more sorry for one particular victim – the whale. It is typical of the human-centred thinking of our society not to think of the pain inflicted on this whale. Take this quote from the Daily Yomiuri:

Koichi Akase, the ferry’s captain, who was hospitalized, told JCG [Japan Coast Guard] officials that the vessel probably was hit by a whale or some other marine animal.

According to a spokesman at Kagoshima Shosen, which operates the ferry, Toppy was cruising near its maximum speed of 80 kph at the time of the accident.

So who struck who? I seriously doubt the whale was going faster than 80 kph (50 mph).

This could simply be bad reporting or it could be something akin to a Freudian slip on the captain’s part. In an anthropocentric world the lives of other animals are not even seen as valuable as our own. Where we draw the line for consideration is ultimately a choice. That it has now become instilled in all of us to be cold-hearted lifeforms is truly sad. While I doubt the whales care for us, that is not an excuse. For humankind and whales are different creatures with a different capacity for compassion. Humankind definitely can act out of compassion. But equally we can act out of cruelty. And so often we have chosen the latter. It is what it means to be human today – to be cruel and uncaring.

I feel all people have a capacity to be good, but whether they choose to be good within a lifetime is something only each individual can prove by their actions.

4 thoughts on “102 People… Oh, and One Whale”

  1. We even tend to underestimate our own intelligence, at times… I think, surely, that whales must be more intelligent than that. ;)

    Just dropping by to say hello and glad for your help in keeping our eyes on all the whale lanes we tend to overlook…


  2. Damn whales – they keep getting in the road. Better kill a few more, eh?

    This article reminds me of another in the Yomiuri a few months ago which described a whale coming to shore somewhere in Japan, apparently because it was so old it had given up all hope of life. The implication, of course, was that whales are so prolific some of them are reaching old age – even in the waters surrounding Japan! At the same time, however, there was absolutely no coverage given to the increasingly dangerous battles between Japanese whaling ships and Greenpeace vessels just off Antarctica.

    So now we have a situation where Japan has increased its hunt to 900 minke whales a year, aswell as adding 10 fin whales to the list – an endangered species according to the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species and The World Conservation Union. According to wikipedia, Japan plans to increase this to 50 fins in 2007, as well as 50 humpbacks – merely `vulnerable` in The World Conservation Union list.

    With the next vote at the International Whaling Commission likely to go the way of the pro-whaling lobby, expect to see more rogue whales ramming boats in protest.


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