Death of a whale


have written about whales dying extensively in my book. I have described it in detail based on first hand accounts. I have even seen a dead whale beached in Wellfleet and learned first hand why whalemen called slain leviathans “stinkers.” But I had never in my adult life watched as a whale was killed. In the final episode of “Whale Wars Season 2,” the slaughter of a fin whale was depicted graphically. The Japanese whaler chased two fin whales closely, got on top of one which couldn’t dive as it couldn’t take the time to get a deep enough breath, and fired a harpoon into it. The whale struggled, desperately, futilely, and then a man with a rifle started shooting it from on deck. It took maybe 25 minutes for the whale to die. The helicopter pilot from the anti-whaling vessel “Steve Irwin” was visibly shaken and said that as he observed it, he felt the concussion of each shot. To watch the cruel scene was to be moved and shaken. I don’t care to ever see such a thing again.

The photo is of a dead humpback that washed up on Wellfleet’s ocean side several years ago. Someone had carved graffiti  into the body already – something in a whale provokes cruelty. Perhaps some people are reminded of how small they are. The person near the whale is the Portuguese navigator who is sometimes featured in this blog. The amazing thing was how the whale had disintegrated into so many pieces in so short a time.  Just as in the WW S2, rendering the 40 ton giant into so much marketable product is a sobering transformation to watch.

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