Subject: Whale conservation
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 11:46:25 GMT+1200

What is the significance of saving great whales, other than preventing a
beautiful and magnificent creature from extiction? What role do they

I don't think any marine mammal scientists has the intent to 'save' whales. It is not a 
question of saving, as much as stopping over-exploitation,  trying to contain the 
devastating effects of human greed, and limiting human impact on one link in the ecosystem 
chain.  In this, whale research is no different than any other conservation issue. Thus your 
question encompasses the whole issue of why bother with conservation at all?  George Durrell 
said it best :  "The world is as delicate and complicated as a spider's web, if you touch 
one thread, you send shudders running through all the other threads that make up the web. 
(...) I think it [conservation] is one of the most necessary things in a world full on 
unnecessary activities".

The 'role' of whales?? What 'role' do humans play?  It is a very anthropocentric view to 
relate worth to service. What 'role' does Madonna or Michael Jordan play?  And yet the money 
spent on these two entertainers alone in one year could probably fund most if not all 
conservation research programs for several years.  

Nathalie Patenaude
Molecular Ecology and Evolution Group
School of Biological Sciences
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland, New Zealand