Interview: saving whales

From: Jennifer Philips (jphilips@hawaii.edu)
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 23:16:20 EDT


Dear Jen,
    I am doing a research project at school about
saving the whales and have to
interview an expert. Here are my questions:
    1. Why did you become an expert?
    2. Why are the whales becoming extinct?
    3. Why would you like to save the whales?
    4. What is your favorite type of whale?
    5. Why do you like whales?
    6. What are your ideas on saving the whales?
    7. What is your background?
Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

                         Sincerely,

                         Wendy Dickieson

                         6th Grade

                         Pyle Middle School

                         Bethesda, MD

------------------

Wendy,

Here are my answers -

1. I had a fascination with marine mammals when I was young which drove me
to become a scientist.

2. Whales were once hunted and killed by most industrialized countries
(including our country, the US) at such great numbers that they could not
recover. Whales do not reproduce quickly - they take years to become old
enough to reproduce, then it takes a while before that new calf is old
enough to produce young of its own. Whales only have one calf at a time, and
females generally only have a calf at most every 2 or 3 years. Because of
this, whales could not produce enough new calves to make up for the number
that were being taken by whalers. After a couple decades of this, whales
began to disappear. If protection measures had not been put in place during
the 1970's, some species would surely have gone extinct all together. Today,
whales are protected from whaling by the International Whaling Commission
(IWC). A few countries still whale, but compared to the numbers of whales
killed during the "heyday" of whaling, these countries are taking a small
number each year. Because of this protection, some species of whales are
beginning to recover from near extinction. Even though they are increasing
in numbers very slowly, we are starting to see improvement. That makes us
very happy!

3. Whales just should not be hunted to extinction. Like any other creature
on this planet (plant or animal) , whales deserve to be able to survive and
live in this world. Humans have the capability of such destructive force;
but we also have the power to appreciate our world and our environment. We
have to protect every element of the world if we are to preserve it.
Ecologically speaking, whales also occupy a role in the natural world that
would be vacated if they were to go extinct. Their destruction would surely
disturb the delicate balance that exists in the planet's ecology.

4. My favorite species of whale is the humpback - they sing such beautiful
and complex songs that seem to be so important to their lives. We are only
beginning to discover what role the song serves for the humpback.

5. I think I might have already answered this one. They are beautiful and
incredible creatures.

6. Well, we need to continue to protect them from harm as a result of our
actions. We need to continue to ban whaling, and discourage those that do
continue to whale from increasing their efforts, or killing highly
endangered species. We need to study other pressures that humans place on
whales outside of whaling. For example, we need to study the effects of
human-generated noise in the oceans on the lives of whales. We need to study
the effects of our fisheries on whales - we continue to fish as much out of
the oceans as we can, does this harm whales? We need to control shipping
activities in areas vital to the whales lives, such as their calving and
breeding areas. And, of course, we need to continue to fund research so that
we might learn more about the whales, thus empowering our efforts to help
them recover.

7. You can get info on my background by reading my bio on the
Ask-A-Scientist page (http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/ASK_SCI.html)

Good luck on your project!

Jen Philips



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