Living Edge: Halting the Coastal Waters Extinction Crises

The work on a new book begins with the Pacific Coast from Baja to the Bering Sea, following the migrations of the great whales – Grey Whales, Finbacks, Blue Whales, Humpbacks, and Orcas along with other marine mammals and fish on their migratory routes. Pacific Grey Whale numbers have been relatively strong at about 27,000, but not at historic levels, in the past decade. But in 2019 high numbers of starving beached Greys all along the Pacific were found as they began to return to the Bering Sea after mating in Baja. There are many potential causes but no certainties that include underwater sonar testing by the military, plastics filling their bellies instead of their natural foods, and, highest on the list – reduction in their foods in the Arctic waters. Grey Whales feed primarily on sea floor amphipods and sometimes on the krill, schooling squid, and other small fish to pack on blubber to undertake the 5000 mile rouetrip migration to Mexico to mate, give birth, and return to the Bering Sea. They do not eat for this entire migration until they are back in the Arctic. If the amphipods are depleted, can they adapt? Are there alternate food sources, and can food sources be brought back into sufficient tonnage for them?

In Living Edge, Diana Hartel will travel to speak with indigenous community conservationists, scientists, and those who are close to Pacific coast wildlife. In some indigenous whaling cultures, stories are passed on of whales coming up beside a boat to eye the crew. If the whale finds them sufficiently worthy, the whale will appear on the harpooner’s side of the boat and offer itself up. Other Native cultures have similar stories of bison offering themselves. What would we offer to save others? If giving my life could stop mass extinctions and global climate chaos, I would do it without hesitation. Why would the whales help us humans now? It has been said that the animals were our teachers in ancient times, but the relationship and bond is now weak. What can we do to restore this relationship?

Whale Watch

This project will travel the coasts of the United States to explore human and non-human relationships, the fates of non-human species of which only 4% of land animals are undomesticated. That number is shrinking mainly due to critical habitat loss. Questions of what is being done to stop the extinction crises, who is doing the work, and how can we all join are on the table. This project will be recorded as a blog, newsletter, articles, and, as soon as possible, a book as time is ticking loudly on our natural ecosystems.