Michael Williamson (
Wed, 5 Mar 1997 09:25:09 -0500 (EST)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 08:15:44 -0800
From: Alan Macnow <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>

FROM: Alan Macnow
             Consultant, Japan Whaling Association

The following editorial on the Japanese capture of 5 orcas
in Taiji
was published by the Seattle Times:

           'Save the Orcas' isn't an exportable value

(Seattle Times, February 20, 1997)

 Television images of orca whales captured in Japan strike a
sensitive chord in the Pacific Northwest, where whales oc-
cupy a special place in our cultural and environmental
values.  But there is no justification for demanding that
the Japanese feel the same way.

We can wish Japanese officials felt as we do about these
magnificent creatures.  We can show the way to Friday Harbor
or to Canada's Robson Bight or Alaska's Prince William
Sound, where orcas can be watched in the wild.  We can con-
trast this with images of captured orcas that jump through
hoops at popular aquariums.

We can point to sagging dorsal fins and to evidence that
whales' lives are shortened in captivity.  We can argue that
such displays turn these dignified creatures into circus

But the Japanese can simply respond: You Americans already
have your whales, captured 20 years ago and kept in public
aquariums from San Diego to Miami.  Those captive whales
both entertain and educate people who would never see one in
its natural setting.  Japan merely proposed to do the same.

Orcas are not endangered - legally or biologically.  A
renewed hunt could bring them to that point, but there is no
immediate danger since orcas have no commercial value except
to a limited number of large aquariums.  There is no inter-
national law against capture; there isn't even an official
U.S.  policy.

In the absence of compelling legal or biological arguments,
we are left with cultural values that vary from one culture
to the next.  The Japanese, who view wild deer with much the
same reverence we do whales, could wag fingers and instruct
us not to hunt deer - but they don't.

This is not a matter for international sanctions, but for
human understanding and education.  We in the Northwest be-
lieve the world would benefit from leaving orcas and other
whales to roam the oceans.  Perhaps the same TV pictures of
captive orcas will bring Japanese attitudes to this point of

In the meantime, this is an issue for the Japanese, who will
attempt to do what's right for their culture and their en-

vironment, without any help from this side of the Pacific.