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Whales might fly

I had to check the date upon seeing the above headline in this week’s New Scientist, but it is definitely not April 1st.

Grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) have been hunted to extinction in the Atlantic in the early 1700s, but now two researchers at the University of Central Lanarkshire in Perth have come up with the bright idea to re-introduce them to Scottish waters in an effort to boost the whalewatching industry.

Whales aren’t cattle. Pacific grey whales may not be adapted to life in the Atlantic, may not be able to locate sufficient food and, being migratory animals, will most probably end up thoroughly disoriented. We have no idea what comprises a viable breeding population and the north coast of Scotland is a far cry from the balmy waters of Bajia California where they calve.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the stress inflicted by handling these animals endangers their health and could even kill them. It is laughable to refer to the two scientists involved, Andrew Ramsey and Dr Owen Nevin, as ‘conservationists’.

Maybe it can be done—we have sperm whales breeding in the Bay of Biscay now—but it isn’t worth the risk and potential suffering inflicted on the whales.

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