Monday, July 13, 2009

Charles Seibert: Watching Whales Watching Us

An amazing piece: Watching Whales Watching Us, by Charles Siebert for the New York Times. Siebert is author of “The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals," which sounds like a book I must read, after reading his whale article. The article gives background on Supreme Court decisions involving the Navy and whales, whale hunting history, strandings, and our current relationship with whales -- and theirs with us. And another fact new to me: whales dream.
And then, within moments, the mother was surfacing again off to our stern and doubling back in our direction, but this time with her newborn male in tow: a miniature version of herself — if two tons of anything can be referred to as miniature — the calf’s skin still shiny and smooth. The baby gray glided up to the boat’s edge, and then the whole of his long, hornbill-shaped head was rising up out of the water directly beside me, a huge, ovoid eye slowly opening to take me in. I’d never felt so beheld in my life.

Of the purposeful interactions between human and whales that the whales are seeking out, and the idea of forgiveness on the part of whales, Dr. Toni Frohoff says:
"That there’s something very potent occurring here from a behavioral and a biological perspective. I mean, I’d put my career on the line and challenge anybody to say that these whales are not actively soliciting and engaging in a form of communication with humans, both through eye contact and tactile interaction and perhaps acoustically in ways that we have not yet determined. I find the reality of it far more enthralling than all our past whale mythology.

Thanks to The Daily Grail for the link.


  1. This past February, I had the amazing experience of touching a baby Pacific Gray Whale in Bahía Magdalena. It was incredible that after the initial encounter of 20 minutes the mother and the calf followed our tiny panga for a while. It sure made us appreciate a certain bonding aspect of this specific human-whatle interaction -

  2. Sounds like a wonderful experience, you are very fortunate, thank you for your comment.