Have whales recovered from the scale of hunting carried out from the 1950s to present times? The numbers are quite staggering in 1959 they peaked at 38635. I read that in 1970 very few whales were seen in the Denmark Straits.
This trip would gave me the opportunity to see if any recovery had been made.
“Photography is an empathy towards the world.” Lewis Hine(2) wisely said. I want to use my natural empathy with this place. My first work was icebergs inspired by the photos of Frank Hurley. They didn’t have anything unexpected so I will show these separately.
We sailed from Iceland and crossed the Denmark Strait in calm seas and blue skies.On the second day we were surrounded by over one hundred Whales both Finn Whales and Humpback Whales. I felt total empathy with this creature and its environment.
So decided to take a sequence of shots to use for this excercise.
I started taking shots of the whale blows and the dorsal Fin. These were nice but not special. I wanted a series of the tail fluke leaving the water as the whale dived.
Remembering the decisive moment excercise I set the camera at f4, ISO200 500th of a second. I waited for the action to be in the right place. Then watched for the tell tale sign of an approaching whale and waited much like the hunter did in years gone by. Only I had a camera not an harpoon.
I pointed the camera and shot this series of eight shots. They looked great in the view finder and on the rear screen.However I didn’t notice the gull flying by the fluke until I looked at the shots back home. This was a disappointment at first but the more I looked the more I liked the shots. The gull adds a new element.
This is the shot I chose as my best from the series. I chose it as the gull is I n the right place so as not to hide any of the fluke but in the right place so as to be visible. We all know the approximate size of a gull so it also adds scale. I wonder what a fright it got when the fluke appeared in front of it?
To answer my original question I can’t say that whales are recovering based on one afternoon taking photos. However the experts on the ship said it was the most they had seen in all there many trips to this place. The most pleasing thing was that the whales weren’t afraid of the ship and they stayed around for over three hours.
A word of caution though, 2000 whales are still killed annually worldwide in the name of culture and science it is still too many!
This experience shows the distance this beautiful creature has travelled since 1970. Good luck on your continuing journey to recovery.
(1) WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation. (2016). Stop Whaling. [online] Available at: http://uk.whales.org/wdc-in-action/stop-whaling [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016A-Z (2)Quotes. (2016). Lewis Hine Quote. [online] Available at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/646055 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].
(3) Ennis, H. and Hurley, F. (2010). Frank Hurley’s Antarctica. Canberra, A.C.T.: National Library of Australia.