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):