Killer Whales Up Close

I am always ambivalent about our endless and relentless efforts to track, film and commercialize killer whales (and other “charismatic megafauna”).

On the one hand, this is a much better way to see what a killer whale is really like than, say, going to SeaWorld. On the other, I feel that it must be stressful for whales and other animals to so frequently experience the presence of curious humans. I feel this most acutely with regard to the Southern Resident Killer Whales off the US Pacific Northwest coast, who daily have a flotilla of whale watching boats following them. Perhaps in addition to the citizen and nonperson rights we’ve been considering for animals, they might appreciate a right to (occasional) privacy.

Still, sometimes the result is spectacular footage. And if viewers walk away with an enhanced sense of the majesty and inherent value of a wild killer whale, then perhaps it is a trade-off that needs to be made.

So let’s roll tape (background here):

3 thoughts on “Killer Whales Up Close”

  1. Off the coast of Catalina.. I had the experience of being in a zodiac (small, holds 8-10) boat that came across a pod of dolphins. They could have easily evaded us but instead swam in the wake b=near the bow. They took turns popping in and out. We could have touched them — we didn’t, mainly because it seemed wrong, like an invasion. It was a wonderful experience. I also — on another occasion saw a Blue whale .. very rare in CA … feeding on krill. The baleen hung down in massive rows from the top jaw.
    As long as “watchers” don’t approach – but let the whales decide home much interaction .. I think there is little harm. In Africa they have the same quandary with chimps and apes — they need the tourist $$ to support the efforts to save them, but don’t want to distress them in the process.

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