About a decade ago, hubby and I watched in childlike amazement as Tona, the majestic sperm whale surfaced and dived back into the cold blue waters, off Kaikoura (New Zealand). From that day on, began my fascination with whales, and cetaceans in general. In addition to whales, the sub-order Cetacea includes aquatic mammals like dolphins and porpoises.
Today, these magnificent creatures face decimation from ship strikes, plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, getting caught as by-catch in commercial fishing nets as well as the rapidly growing, captive cetaceans industry.
My article for the May-Jun’16 issue of PASSAGE (the bi-monthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore) centres around the recently unveiled sperm whale skeleton at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore. The skeleton has been affectionately named ‘Jubi’ by the museum staff. While the circumstances of Jubi’s death are unfortunate, the skeleton display has presented an opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the conservation and protection of these behemoths.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species classifies sperm whales as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction.
(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor.)