What Do You Do About a Lost Whale?

May 29, 2007 1:47pm

Day after day, for nearly two weeks now, we and other media outlets have been diligently reporting the progress of those two whales lost on the Sacramento River.  NOAA, the Coast Guard, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and countless volunteers are all involved.    The latest is HERE. People are certainly reacting to the story; it’s hard not to. But I found myself in the middle of a debate this morning: er, hate to raise an ugly question, but isn’t this an awful lot of effort?  What if the whales are beyond saving?  Couldn’t the money be spent on Darfur, or habitat restoration, or education? David Schoetz of our staff has written a piece about the costs of the operation, which I hope you’ll read if you haven’t found it already.  It’s HERE.

We found one newspaper, the Tuscaloosa News, asking the question in an editorial: "Is worrying about the fate of two whales that can’t seem to navigate properly worth it? Should we just let nature take its course?"  The paper concludes, "If whales are symbolic of other wildlife species that are also in trouble, saving a few more whales probably won’t hurt. And if saving whales makes us more receptive to the idea of saving habitats, it will do a world of good." The full editorial is HERE. That’s their take.  Yours is welcome.  (Photo by Sarah Wilkin, NOAA Fisheries Service)

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