Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Freeing Whales OR Oh! What Misfortune to be Charismatic Megafauna

As I have previously indicated, I was a big supporter of the Free Willy/Keiko effort in the 1990's. While there are many things from that part of my life that I am happy I can shrug off as "growth", I'm actually proud of my 10 year old, or whatever I was at the time, self, because I think the cause was worthy and the outcome was not a failure.

There have been a few recent attention-grabbing news items focusing on whether orcas should be kept in captivity. In addition to the documentary, Blackfish, there has been an outcry (and OUTCRY) about the commodification of an orca named Morgan (Figure 1). that was supposedly in rehab after being stranded on the Dutch coast. 

Figure 1. Don't worry, Morgan, we're doing it because we love you! And that makes it ok. Photo: Change.org

These events have apparently reminded the collective consciousness (the media?) of the only orca for whom we have (so far?) had an attention span sufficient actually follow through on a plan for release into the wild. I really like this NYT video on the history and fallout of that story. Also, Craig McCaw, who knew?

Sorry for the sober interruption of what is usually a giddy exploration of science, folks. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly.

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