Anyone who loves animals reacts strongly to the images of whales and dolphins being hunted and killed, and we tend to direct our anger toward those we see as responsible for these brutal attacks. Sometimes we can forget, however, that it is a select few we are fighting – namely, those who are directly involved in hunting humpbacks in the Southern Ocean or herding dolphins into coves for slaughter – and target our wrath towards a country as a whole, further polarizing the issue. It is important to remember that there are people in those countries who love whales and dolphins just as we do, and people who are seeking to learn more about them. A recent display of light imagery in the form of humpback whales (“Urban Whale Watching” ) in Japan attracted the attention of a large number of passers-by; Cameras were pulled out to capture the moment, children tried to touch the whales swimming overhead, and the crowd audibly gasped as the whales rolled or opened their mouths.
The beautiful images, though made with computers and lights on the side of a building, captured the majestic grace of a whale in its natural environment. Inspiring those who live in countries that still participate in the killing of whales and dolphins, and providing them with an opportunity to see these creatures in the wild (or as close to the wild as an urban, computer-generated image can get) is an important part in the fight to end these hunts. We can work on changing the system from the inside out, as well as continuing the fight from our end of the globe. Artists like Bryant Austin (http://www.studiocosmos.com/) who has taken his amazing photos to whaling nations like Japan and Norway, allow citizens of these countries to see whales from a different perspective, and gives them the opportunity to make up their own minds. Bridging the gap between the viewpoints of nations starts with finding common ground. Looking at the reactions of the viewers in the Urban Whale Watching video, I think we have a good chance to reach out to our fellow animal-lovers and show them how amazing whales and dolphins are, and how important it is that we protect them from the brutal and useless killings that still threatens them. It’s not always “us against them” when it comes to conservation, it’s everybody who loves them.