Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on June 10, 2008
Filed Under Green Report / Media
What is it about whales that makes them so pitiable? Maybe it’s their intelligence, or maybe it’s just their sheer size that makes people really take notice when something goes wrong. Whether it’s a stray whale into San Francisco Bay or a mass beaching, the world takes notice.
Last month in Senegal over 100 pilot whales beached themselves in one night near the port town of Yoff. Here’s a map for those of you like me who have trouble keeping all those African countries straight. Local fishermen worked hard throughout the night to get them back into the water, and they saved about 80 whales. The other 20+ didn’t survive and lay rotting on the beach for where people snapped photos.
Dead whales can cause a variety of issues – especially in an area where most food doesn’t come from grocery stores. About 30 years ago a similar event happened at Yoff, sickening local residents who ate the spoiled whale flesh.
The cause of this beaching remains a mystery, but not a mystery without precedent. Two years ago around 250 whales beached in neighboring Mauritania. Nearby seismic and sonar testing by oil companies was thought to be the cause, but there is no way to tell for sure. What is clear is that something is interfering with whales’ navigation and orientation systems. At Yoff, offshore pollution has also been suggested as a cause.
“It’s like a collective suicide. Even when you push them out, they still keep coming back,” said Ali Haidar, president of the Oceanium marine conservation organization in Dakar.
And maybe the idea that whales would commit suicide makes humans relate.