A humpback whale that was stranded on a sandbank near the island of Texel, the Netherlands, on Wednesday, has been murdered by two doctors from the dolphinarium of the Dutch city of Harderwijk. The reason: the whale's skeleton was already sold to a nature museum.
On Friday night a team of whale rescuers supported by citizen volunteers arrived at the Razende Bol ("Raging Ball"), a sandbank that covers an area of around five km², but they were stopped from rescuing the animal by authorities. At 7:30PM a lethal injection was given to the 12-metre long and 25 tonne heavy mammal, named Johannes by the Dutch. Newspaper Telegraaf subsequently confirmed the death of the whale that earlier managed to free itself from the sandbank but returned after an hour.
Activist Lenie 't Hart posted a Twitter message from the site of the murder on Friday night saying:
"Humpback whale hits its murderers with its tail, but they continue. Lots of blood. We have footage."
An earlier and so-called last-ditch rescue attempt by the Royal Dutch Rescue Society and seals and birds center Ecomare on Thursday failed, when the net that was supposed to move the whale to deeper waters broke and the helicopter that assisted the action ran out of fuel with apparently no additional fuel or a replacement helicopter available. By then, a spokesperson of Ecomare said a lethal injection to kill the animal was not an option because of the 16 cm layer of fat under its skin, so it was "forced to die a natural death on the sandbank".
But things changed on Friday afternoon when a report by Dutch NOS News mentioned that the skeleton of the according to experts still very lively whale will be transported to nature museum Naturalis in the city of Leiden. It prompted a sailor of shipping company Noordgat from the island of Texel to organize an independent rescue attempt which was lauded by many citizens who offered their help. The team arrived at the sandbank around 8PM, an hour before high water which would have been a perfect circumstance to rescue the whale - only to find out the animal was already given the injection.
Noordgat's aim was to blow a trench through which the whale could be refloated. Sailor and organizer Joep on Twitter:
"Unfortunately, unfortunately we are at location but Johannes had a lethal injection. Shipping company Noordgat did its utmost to prevent this. #sucks"
"One hour before high water so before we could even try. #BastardBehaviour".
Initially the municipality of Texel forbade the rescue attempt by the shipping company but later on they gave their approval. Only on Friday evening the Dutch Animal Party reported to have contacted the Minister of Economic Affairs on the situation, who promised to "reconsider" the killing of the whale. This promise however happened at the same time the whale was killed.
The murder of the humpback whale caused a flood of outrage and anger on Twitter by Dutch users using the #bultrug ("#humpback") hashtag.
"I guess we need #baywatch for animals in #Holland! Shame on you all @dolfinarium & @museumnaturalis @gemeentetxl #Texel #bultrug #humpback", Twitter user @HansKorpershoek wrote.
Activist Lenie 't Hart added at 9:30PM:
"Experienced whale rescuers of Terschelling can no longer cope with witnessing the humpback whale being killed. They could have saved him in two hours".
Why worrying about one whale?
While reading the "tweets" on this topic today, I frequently stumbled upon messages such as: "How hypocritical; what about the numerous whales that are killed in Japan each year?" or "You seem to forget that today many people starved to death as well". Such messages apparently are meant to put a certain situation into a certain perspective, resulting in the conclusion that it is highly excessive and shortsighted to react in a certain way because somewhere else the situation is way worse than the one that you are focusing on.
First of all, let me say that from an universal point of view it is hard to decide which situation is harder or worse than the other. In our perception the killing of one whale is less bad than the killing of a thousand whales, while we experience the killing of a thousand people as worse than the killing of a thousand whales. But is it? I would say it is all equally bad. Because - secondly and most importantly - the concept of "don't be so silly to worry about this one because over there are a thousand others in the same situation; they are many so for that reason their situation is worse than the individual's one" builds on the sad and widespread misconception that we are disconnected individuals.
We are not. We, and all other forms of life and consciousness, are an aspect of the Whole. The concept of humans being superior to animals because we consider them to be lesser forms of life, as well as the concept of the suffering of a group being worse than the suffering of an individual only exist in our minds. Therefore the horror of murdering a whale is equally important as the horror of murdering a larger number of whales, and also equally important as the horror of murdering one or more human beings.
If you treat animals badly and without respect, you will treat people badly and without respect as well. Ultimately, you will treat yourself badly and without respect. If you truly respect yourself for what you are, you will respect all life, no matter what form it may take or in which numbers it exists.
And finally, at a higher level every species has a collective mind, so when a human being sends positive energy - which could be just an empathic thought to let's say a suffering whale in the Netherlands - the other members of the species will benefit from it as well. For that reason we don't have to physically go to Japan in order to change the situation of its whales, or in order to change any other bad situation in the world. We have the power to make a healing change just from where we are at this very moment.
UPDATE 1: On Saturday afternoon local time, Dutch media reported that the lethal injection that was given to the humpback whale on Friday night has failed to kill the animal. The mammal turned out to be strong enough to survive 19 hours of deathly poison in its body. A new attempt to murder the whale will be done today.
Veterinarians earlier said the injection was justified because the whale had become "extremely weak". This was already refuted on Friday by volunteer rescuers who witnessed it was still "alive and kicking" like a young man from shipping company Noordgat wrote at his Facebook page.
UPDATE 2: An attempt to give the whale the second lethal injection failed on Saturday. Activist Lenie 't Hart reported that the whale was "too active" to make the veterinarians do their killer job. She called on the police to allow the rescue team to the area.
UPDATE 3: On Saturday night at 8PM, an hour before high water, the vessel of society Sea Shepherd was also stopped from rescuing the whale by police who refused to revoke the emergency ordinance in the area.
UPDATE 4: On Sunday morning local time, activist Lenie 't Hart and a team of people who wanted to rescue the humpback whale were finally allowed to the area, and have concluded that the whale has died.
UPDATE 5: Lenie 't Hart writes in Dutch language on her Twitter account:
(December 16, 10:00 UTC) Last night there were four men in white suites at the humpback whale. Two helicopters lit up the terrain. Likely the humpback has been killed then.
(December 16, 13:00 UTC) Witnesses tell on Wednesday authorities sent all rescuers away. The whale still could have been rescued easily by then.
(December 16, 14:00 UTC) Naturalis has started to cut the humpback in pieces, those scavengers didn’t waste any time. According to witnesses, 30 seals are watching it happening. If [Naturalis] sprayed poison, the seals should be careful.
These holes were discovered in the back of the whale (photo ANP):