Sunday, August 8, 2010

Last Class!

Hi everyone!

I can say with absolute confidence that I couldn't have asked for a better concluding class. The day was gorgeous, and although it was pretty windy and overcast when we got out to Stellwagen Bank, it was refreshing to get out of the heat. I have never seen a whale with its calf before, let alone right next to the boat! It's amazing to see so many whales right off the coast of Boston, and even more amazing to see them as thriving here as proof that the water is so clean. I had never thought of taking advantage of all the whale-watching companies right off of Boston harbor because I honestly never thought I would never actually see a whale! The best part of the trip was the crew being able to identify the whales based solely on their flukes, and that they could track how many calves Whisk had since they first identified her. The crew was truly passionate about the survival of the different whale species in the Bank, and it was cool to see first-hand where the scientific data on the whales comes from and how it's collected. On a last note about the whale watch, it was so appropriate to end the class with the largest mammals of the ocean when we started the class with some of the smallest creatures. We covered everything from the tiny amphipods under the docks, to the giant Humpback whales of the Atlantic and truly got a small but detailed glimpse of the marine life off of Boston.

On to the controversial issue of Humpback whale hunting in Greenland. I did some research on the issue to try to get a look at why the indigenous people wanted the humpback whale in particular and to see what data was out on the subject. According to a few different newspaper sources, but the Manchester Times in particular (, Greenland's indigenous population wants access to the humpback whales for subsistence farming while opponents say that their current ability to hunt both Minke and Bowhead whales makes humpback whale hunting completely unnecessary. Prior to reading this article, I sympathized with the indigenous people and supported their request to hunt just 9 whales a year under the idea that they would use every part of the animal for food. When the Humpback whale population is sustainable, then I could support the idea that a small fraction could be hunted for survival purposes for a people that had traditionally depended on whale meat for food and nutrition. However, it seems that they have not reached their quota for hunting the Minke and Bowhead whales which means they are already well-supplied with whale meat. To hunt any more whales looks like a preference in taste of Humpback whales over the other two, rather than a need to supply food for the population. In conclusion, I do not support the request to hunt even a small population of Humpback whales and believe that they have no real need for the meat.

This whole class experience has day after day shown me a new part of Boston (and the harbor) that I never gave a second thought to, and I will never again look at the water the same way. We have so many resources at our fingertips in the bay and I only wish that more people had the experience we had the last two weeks to both take advantage of and appreciate the unique environment right in our backyard. I had never looked at a map of just the harbor, nor did I ever appreciate the proximity of the islands to downtown. I feel more confidence to just go out and visit the different islands now, and hope to get to as many as I can. So Bruce, thank you for opening up a brand new Boston harbor to me when the farthest I had ventured to was World's End, while looking curiously at the islands but never thinking to actually explore them. I had a great time, thank you for everything!

-Lydia T

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