I grew up just blocks from the Ocean in San Francisco where I walked the beach nearly every day and was lulled to sleep at night by the sound of fog horns. Sometimes, when in the water – I could feel these wave pulses of energy moving through my body and sometimes, at the shore, I could feel life forms moving far off inside the ocean. I knew they could feel me as well and were communicating. I would listen and sometimes hear pieces of sound, but did not understand the language. Sometimes when I slept I would dream of being back on the shore speaking to them and they to me. I could understand them in dream. I would open my heart and send a connection of love in the direction of the sound – they would answer back. Then I could see their bodies – they were whales. I remember seeing my first whale spout. I was in 3rd grade on a field trip to Ano Nuevo state park. My class was being led around by a park ranger. We were standing on the San Andreas Fault Line which looked like a thick line of dirty yellow chalk. She was talking about how, during an earthquake, this line would become a fissure and open up. Everyone was looking down at the line when I heard a voice from the water say “I am here.” They had learned my language! I looked out into the sea and saw a huge water spout not far off the shore. It was only after I felt that familiar wave ripple through my body, the language of the whale. Fast forward to now – I am all grown up (well most of the time anyway) …
I sometimes live on an island south of Cape Cod currently known as Martha’s Vineyard. Whether I am wandering around or planted there, I always try to be on island between the months of March and April when the Wright Whales come close to shore. The whale mothers bring their new babies for a visit to prime feeding grounds on their way further north. I didn’t know they did this, but happened to be on Philbin Beach on one very clear day some years back – when I again felt that feeling and was aware of a grouping of whales between me and No Man’s land (an island off the coast of Aquinnah) … I can now feel when this group is approaching the island and go to meet them. Last year we were in conversation (conversations are usually brief) and they simply told me to follow them north. I was speaking with a friend later that week about what they had said when she mentioned the gathering of whales at Tadoussac – a place in Quebec where the St. Lawrence Water Way narrows and meets the Sanguenay Fjord. Apparently all the whales of the Atlantic head there to feed each summer. Porpoise, Minkes, Fins, Humpbacks, Wright (which are almost extinct and rarely seen), even blue whales can be found in these waters. The beautiful white Beluga whales actually live in the Fjord all year-round as the sharks won’t follow them up into the less saline waters of the Sanguenay.
The Problem: When I got to the Fjord I camped on a cliff overlooking the sound. That night I had a dream of the Wright Whales – they told me to speak to a blue whale. I awoke to low tide and knew that no whales would be coming near the outlook. It was July and it was cold (this is pretty far north) …the temps were in the 40’s Fahrenheit with rain and heavy wind. No sail boats were going out that day (my preferred method) - so I took a motor boat out. First I met a Minke – the naturalist on the boat was pointing out a group of grey seals to those on board – I was quietly at the back of the boat away from the others, when I heard the Minke come up next to the boat. Minkes are very friendly. We made a beautiful heart connection and off the Minke went before anyone except two people next to me noticed. Then the naturalist pointed out a pod of Fin whales breaching. I made the heart connection to them and said hello.
They were angry. I had never encountered an angry whale before. They were being harassed by too many tourist boats that had come too close. I said hello again. They sent a clear message, “Tell the others to stop killing us!” I was stunned – what did they mean? Then they added, “When we are gone, so will you humans be gone from the planet.” Then they dived down deep – gone. I was doubly horrified. What was this about? The boat went farther and farther out into the deep channels where the larger whales feed. Suddenly I felt a wave go through my body- it was a whale making contact. A blue whale – she was about a mile away starboard side of the boat. I sat down – followed the soundwave back to her and made an energetic connection from my heart to hers. This time I got a rush of love back, a soft nurturing hello. She was happy that I had found her. She showed me how she was both in physical reality and in dreamtime at the same time, she was straddling the world of spirit and the physical realm. She explained that some other whales were like this as well, but the blue whale was always like this. I told her what the Fins had said. She answered me, “We whales communicate with each other across the oceans, we live a long time and have continuous ancestral memory.” She went on, “There are places where they are still killing us.” And what did they mean about humanity becoming extinct if the whales are gone? Again a pulse of love. Then she showed me the creation story of humanity from the blue whale’s eyes. She said: “Early on this planet, when we had come, it was entirely water and was known as Oceanus.” “Eventually, as the planet went through a transformation, solid bodies rose up out of the waters. We saw things grow, saw movement. We were curious and wanted to feel what it would be like, so we dreamed you up. This is why you are made up of mostly water – this is why you are always called to the water. We took you from our bones - a whale who could move out of the water and report back. We dreamed you in the dreamtime and so helped create your physicality. There were many spirits who had a hand in this creation process, but, we the blue whales, are your spiritual mothers and hold the vision of humanity. We are still dreaming you. If we are no longer here, the framework that allows your potential will be gone. We talk to humanity, communicate to you all the time, dream you always, but you have forgotten how to hear us, forgotten how to listen. We ask that you listen again.”
This is what I have found out since meeting the blue whale mother:
Three countries: Japan, Norway and Iceland still hunt and kill whales for commercial purposes.
Reynolds Aluminum used to have a factory at the top of the Sanguenay Fjord into which they dumped aluminum – the Canadian government responded and they were shut down, however,
Beluga whales are now being born in the fjord and sound with horrible birth defects due to the aluminum poisoning (heavy metals are stored in fatty tissue). Their numbers are decreasing (the babies not surviving) and they are not expected to be able to regenerate the population of the Sanguenay Fjord.
Other whales have been absent from the St. Lawrence in recent years (or appearing in drastically reduced numbers, believed due to climate change, lack of food and other environmental factors.)
Too many aggressive whale tourist boat operators were stressing the whale populations. The sound of the boats disturb their ability to communicate (Belugas are known to sing to each other all the time and this population has stopped singing due to all the noise interruption). Whales were also running into the propellers of boats in too close pursuit of them (getting fatally injured, their skulls crushed or bodies cut open when surfacing for air.) The Canadian Government has responded by creating a protected waterway through the St. Lawrence seaway in these feeding grounds, stricter guidelines and a non-pursuit law and has also lowered the speed limit allowed when traveling through this busy seafaring area. – Thank you Canada.
Where they can improve:
Unfortunately, they are using a huge ship to patrol and monitor the waters (which means there is a constant loud noise reverberation from their ship at all times – not good for the whales.) How about a fleet of small boats – more effective in catching violators and less noise reverberation (anyone want to donate some small quiet boats?)
The Answer: It is great that people want to see and appreciate the whales – as public opinion helps create laws and consensus against the hunting of whales. This tourist industry helps poor areas, lowering other dangers to the whales. However, when it endangers and harasses their already stressed populations, it is not honoring their needs. More education – and less chasing of whales, please! More reverence towards them (people usually jump up and down, scream (literally) and point when they see them – I understand the excitement, but not a great way to start a conversation.) Awareness education is needed to help reconnect on a deeper level and grass root campaigns are necessary to help pressure the remaining three countries that are murdering whales to stop. The message needs to be clear - The killing of whales is not acceptable – Active boycotts of products from these countries and tourism to these countries (Iceland for instance makes most of their money from tourism (partly whale tourism- but does not advertise that they also hunt and slaughter the whales.) Campaigns and boycotts put direct pressure on these nations to stop the slaughter. These are things we can accomplish.
Most of all, start listening. When you are next by the sea, get quiet, be still and become aware of the water all around you and all the life below the surface edge. See what you start to consciously feel, know and sense. Say hello.
Rachel Baird is an artist, peace activist and writer (best known as a poet). She facilitates voyages to commune with whales and leads guided meditations to help us reconnect with our water ancestors, meeting them where we are and creating a future together – helping hold the common dream to restore an ocean of peace.