Why do we humans miss the elephant for fear of the mouse?

peter OPR

My business as I get older, probably because I have drunk the eco-koolade, is nature. I have spent 40+ years fighting governments, industry, and individuals to keep as much nature alive as I can. Oh yes, I could have easily been rolled over by ego-corporations and been paid for what I do, but it feels somewhat more righteous to work as a volunteer because the job is simply the right thing to do. I am lucky after these many years that I can live frugally and can give my time. It is important to leave this earth better then when we all arrived, and the time is now for all of us to get off our couches and help.

I am presently stationed in Friday Harbor, the headquarters of Northwest whale watching one can safely say. Now, I come from a smaller town with fewer people then here, so I get the fact that that personal animosities go deep. I have already learned that half of the town hates the other half and some feuds go back years.  Cape Cod was like that and Nantucket did more to destroy all whales than anywhere else, so my guilt runs deep. Well, now it is my mission to convince the locals here to give up past grievances for the sake of the orcas. Friday Harbor now titters on going down in history for losing yet another species of whale. I cannot let that happen by blaming others or simply looking the other way.

I do not live in Washington and I am certainly an interloper, but in this issue, I consider myself a representative of the whales. I am a citizen of this planet and have the right to speak out. May I suggest that no matter how much fun I can imagine it would be to look into your bedroom window and watch you make love, or to blast KISS on my stereo while looking into your kitchen window and watching you have dinner, I am quite sure you would not be amused. I don’t need to be a biologist to guess– the whales don’t like it either. Think about it.

What if a local entrepreneur started running Peeping Tom, and Rave party buses to your house? Would you worry about shutting down their businesses? I think not!

So, I am here to do my best to ask my fellow humans to back-off and allow nature to be. The governor should have included the whale watching moratorium in his orca protection bill, but “business” interests spoke out and he caved. If we want to help these whales, we must make some changes and quit pointing to someone else as the culprit. We are the reason they are suffering… noise, harassment, pollutants, dams, over fishing, raw sewage pumped into their habitat, and plastics all come from us. It’s time for us all to step up, take responsibility and save these poor creatures. I know, I know, there are many reasons they are dying. But I need only to look in the mirror and know the real reason: we have met the enemy and it is us!  What I do not understand is why can we not all support giving these creatures a break?

I heard somewhere that the Southern Residents are only ten percent of the local Whale Watch business. Will your businesses really suffer if you just leave the southern residents alone? It was suggested to me by a friend and fellow activist that Friday Harbor could be in the forefront of real environmental change. Why not run authentic eco-tours without disturbing nature? Why not become a beacon to enlightened nature policies instead of continuing to use the very creatures you all claim to hold so dear? I know this is America and we gotta get aggressive and make money, but if the millennials are as clever as they believe, they will flock to be part of the solution. Maybe a change in perspective will be a huge success? What a concept. Instead of hunting these creatures with high speed boats, secret radios, and “big eyes,” which by the way is illegal under the federal laws that protect endangered species, why don’t we stop the hunting altogether. A hunt is a hunt whether you carry a camera or a gun. If law enforcement paid attention and enforced laws that exist, the jails would be full.

We at www.gaianetwork.netare operating the small trawler, Wii Seeks. We are setting up a live-stream operation that will really keep an eye on what’s going on. This network can be joined by all. Even whale watchers! We will let the public and law enforcement really see in real time what is happening. Maybe then change will happen, forced or otherwise.

Now, I know this is a touchy subject, but I pretty much have a reputation for practical activism and jumping in where others fear to tread. We do campaigns as if we were an acupuncture needle. We are not so arrogant that we believe we can lead a movement, but we can sure as hell get in the fray, and by actually doing things, get the great middle ground to move in positive directions. If history means anything, maybe we can do it here.

I realize most whale-watching companies hopefully pursue these pods thinking they are helping… be it education, science, or sheer enjoyment. I am sure many obey the Marine Mammal Protection laws and try to do right. They are probably just as upset with those lawbreakers who get too close as I am. BUT it’s all about the money and the lawbreakers are getting better tips and recommendations for getting close to the orcas. Others need to compete and quite frankly no one is looking. This summer we will be looking, so there goes that excuse. It is time to stand up and demand respect for the whales. Make tourists understand as I am sure they want nothing to do with whale extinction.  Help us turn in the law breakers and maybe bring some eco-sanity to the 75+ research permits. Do we really need 75? Can’t scientists co-operate? I suggest this summer they try.

I always end my controversial discussions with: “There is no whale watching ,tourist industry, or jobs once the whales are gone. No economy whatsoever on a dead planet.” You can’t walk five feet on Spring Street without being reminded of the importance of the orcas to this region. When they are gone, will jelly fish or plastic garage adorn every sign and T-shirt in the town?

We plan to make a stand and will hopefully be live-streaming people’s behavior. A kind of neighborhood watch.  The whales were here long before us and they have as much right here as we do. We must stop abusing them or they will be gone, and Friday harbor will be thought of as the place that lost the orcas. Let’s all give them their legal space and allow them sanctuaries where no boats ever follow like the long suggested no-go boat zones. Believe me, your grandchildren will thank you.

I will do what I can, but I need everyone’s help and suggestions to make this happen. Volunteers are very welcome from all walks of life– mechanics, writers, internet geeks, captains and crew. We all have talents and can contribute. Do what you are good at for the whales, we will all be better off for it.

I want to congratulate the Lopez group for their San Juan County Initiative. I hope all who can vote in this county sign their petition. Why not put it to a vote? This is America after all, let the majority decide in the privacy of the voting booth. I believe the public will support the whales.

We can exploit the whales; or we can allow them to exist as we would hope our neighbors would allow us… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you want to help us, you can volunteer or donate money to cover our expenses at: www.gaianetwork.net. Thank you

Peter Jay Brown  www.gaianetwork.net

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