W lingerThe massive movements of wild animals may seem like a refutation of the disastrous news we hear, daily, from our natural environment. They are known to be threatened, in their very choreography, but at their sight, the eternal optimism of the human spirit is encouraged to think that all is not lost.
Over the past few days we have seen some moving stories from southern right whales feeding off New South Wales. It is only then, bitterly, that we are presented with the Dantean alternative, in the piles of bloodied dolphin carcasses on a dock in the Faroe Islands.
Sunday 1428 mammiFathers sailors have been killed en masse as part of the island 's' Grind' tradition. A particularly harsh word, to English-speaking ears, for an excessively harsh vision: wild, social, intelligent, intuitive creatures, particularly loved by human beings, dropped and slumped out of their element like so many sardines.
As moving as these scenes from the Faroe Islands are, and as fierce as the the reaction of the public and the media towards them is - especially from some islanders them - same, with assertions that the superpod of the Atlantic white-sided dolphins that died this little k are not a traditional part of hunting - there are deep cultural contexts for this slaughter.
There are many accounts ofnative hunting still in progress, from Alaska to islands off Indonesia and the Caribbean. In Taiji, on the southeast coast of Japan, the the annual dolphin hunt began on September 1, coming conveniently after this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games and avoiding any possible boycott: a kind of bloody game this, with a potential quota of 1,849 cetaceans of nine species.
Whales and dolphins are hunted on land, expressing their pain as they die, in remote places. This vocalization being the height of distress for animals who live almost entirely in a sound world, intimately linked by it, the auditory and sensory expression of their community. Sound is their place, just as other cetaceans are their "home".
But maybe the Faroes incident hit harder because the islands seem to be our responsibility. Geographically too close; too "European"? In fact, the Faroe Islands, despite being part of the Kingdom of Denmark, have imposed themselves beyond scope in the EU . They didn't find it in their best interests to be a part of this project.
We humans set arbitrary limits in our hypocrisies and daily projects. Necessarily. Wild birds slaughtered over Mediterranean shores or abandoned dogs cause sadness. But every minute of the day we slaughter countless animals for food. We consume animals as units without a thought. What a differenceis there if a tho and or more dolphins should die?
Is it because of our relentless anthropomorphism? Whether we are projecting our physical or idealized selves onto animals? When do wild animals become our pets? Dolphins appear as our alternative selves: perfected, Edenic versions, antediluvian humanoids. Innocent people, who left the land before we wasted it, carelessly playing in the sea, freed from our needs.
What do we want 'they are ? Artists in the dolphinariums, prisoners of our disturbances, paid in fish to play a part? Millions of tourists each year spend money to make this pleasure - the pain of thousands of these animals kept thn containment around the world, from China to Europe and the United States - be ignored. Animals that have a culture - as we now know cetaceans - become assimilated to our culture . It is their destiny, and ours, even as we realize that we must refer to them as a "who", not a what; as individuals, not a collective mass of otherness.
We use them, whatever we do. And even. Are we not ourselves beautiful humans because of our faults? For all our venalities, our pity, imperfect though it is, is to be admired. And if we can't cry over other species, how can we expect to cry over ourselves?