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Asha de Vos

Marine Biologist, The University of California Santa Cruz

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Why do you care about blue whales?

As a blue whale researcher, I know why I care about the state blue whales are in today. I spend hours on the water with them and have the privilege of asking and exploring numerous questions. At the same time, i cannot stop marvelling at their immense size, agility, speed and awe-inspiring grace. I know why I care but right now, I just want to know why you care. Looking forward to hearing from lots of you!

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    Nov 17 2012: I care about the existence of blue whales, but I am more concerned that we conserve species we care about by looking after the ecosystems that support them.

    I'm not aiming this at you personally (you clearly know what you're doing), but conserving any single species in isolation is nothing short of an impotent form of 'green symbolism'.

    It's pointless trying to conserve a single species if the ecosystem surrounding it has been wrecked.

    I think this is a lesson for the conservation movement generally - if a climax species is in need of conserving, then the ecosystem in which it has evolved, needs conserving first.
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      Nov 29 2012: Absolutely agree with you on this. I am really interested in animals and their behaviours but I strongly believe that if you don't understand their environment and how that impinges on the creature then there is no hope. I think that conservation has started to shift from pure 'save the animal' to the more holistic ecosystems and livelihoods approach, which I think is imperative in this world we live in. Everything is totally tied together in a single, very large web and we have to treat it as such. The former approach is way too simplistic.
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    Nov 29 2012: Hello again Asha,
    I see you are still doing your wonderful work in the sea:>) As a certified scuba diver, I have witnessed the beautiful, underwater balance....or not. We humans have many times created havoc in our world...both on land and in the sea. I care about all creatures, because I perceive an interconnectedness with all living things. Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to swim with a whale, although many other sea creatures have welcomed us to their environment, and we can "feel" the connection...it is a joyous feeling and experience:>) We need to be aware of our world, the ecosystems, and all creatures sharing the earth with us:>)
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    Nov 29 2012: Thank you for your comments on my question. I agree, whales are intriguing because they are elusive, because they are a fundamental part of a complex web of life, because we have so much to learn about them that would inform us about our own lives. I think this applies to most creatures out there but some capture the imagination a little bit more than others....
  • Nov 18 2012: I care about whales the same way that I care about all species. It's not that I have a specific love or fascination with just whales. I get defensive whenever a species is endangered because of system dynamics. We don't know how far the ripple s go; essentially it's the butterfly effect. If we kill the whales, the plankton will overpopulate, if there is too much plankton the ph levels of the ocean are thrown off and ALL species start dying (exaggerated example). We just don't know what kind of an affect our actions can have. It is best to try and maintain things as they are so as not to throw a wrench in the works.
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    Nov 17 2012: as a living creature, I suppose I feel some empathy for and interest in all other living creatures. I also think learning about animals and plants helps us to live better as human beings. It helps us to farm them better, use them as food sources. It helps us to empathize, exploit them as little as possible. It gives us new ideas about how to better ourselves, for example if we see dogs have a better sense of smell than us, we might ask ourselves why do they have a better sense of smell? Could we get a better sense of smell too? Also, it simply makes life more interesting, makes us more appreciative of life.
  • Nov 17 2012: They are mamals, big asnd intelligent. I don't want to lose any animals - except maybe diseases.
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    Nov 17 2012: Because the red and green whales were so mean to them in school. They deserve a break.
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    Nov 17 2012: Because they are part of our world and have reason to be it. Like all animals.

    And not many species make humans hold to listen to their voices as whales do, as if they would remind us on something very familiar as if it was from a long ago and distant time... somewhat like nostalgia.

    Thank you for looking after them!
  • Nov 16 2012: I care about all species, endangered or not, but I especially care about whales because they are sentient, self-aware, creatures with language and art. They are certainly better than the knuckle dragging troglodites that hunt them (who I care nothing about at all)
  • Nov 16 2012: Because they are endangered species because of humanity's excesses. The same way rhinos are hunted for their horns and waters are polluted due for oil spillage.
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      Nov 16 2012: Thanks Feyisayo for responding! Ok, but there are lots of endangered species out there -- why is it that we don't necessarily care about them the same way we care about a blue whale? Is it because they are so elusive?
      • Nov 17 2012: It is because most people have the impression that the oceans are a 'far' and 'distance' place (like mars or the other planets) ; few people study oceanography, and some do visit the oceanarium occassionally, but most people dont know that there are numerous organisms that make the ocean a home and it does have its peculiar food chain. It would seem as if oil spillage, whaling and dumping of toxic waste is not such a 'serious' issue.
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          Nov 29 2012: I tend to agree that there is a level of fascination with the unknown mixed in with the fact that they are so big that perhaps piques our interest. Does that mean however, that the more we learn about these elusive creatures, the less people will be interested in them? will they lose their magic?
      • Nov 17 2012: It is because most people have the impression that the oceans are a 'far' and 'distance' place (like mars or the other planets) ; few people study oceanography, and some do visit the oceanarium occassionally, but most people dont know that there are numerous organisms that make the ocean a home and it does have its peculiar food chain. It would seem as if oil spillage, whaling and dumping of toxic waste is not such a 'serious' issue.