My favorite thing to do growing up was to collect animal picture books and draw every single animal on every page. I still have all of the books that I used to read. Through reading (or more like admiring the photos and drawings) these picture books, I would learn about all these species of animals that did not even have common names in my country. Through these picture books was also how I first learned the concept of evolution. How animals would slowly change their morphology as time passed by and the environment changed. Out of all the animals I read about, drew, and loved, the absolutely most fascinating were the whales, and how they came to be.
I used to think that whales were just big fish, which had always lived in the ocean, but no. They were mammals that evolved from terrestrial ancestors. This was the very first time I fell in love with whales.
Whales are such gorgeous creatures, with their elegant body structures, and calming vocals. Even when simply seen from a distance, there is something just breath taking when you see that spout shoot straight up.
Today, whales face one of the deadliest threats ever; humans. It is sad for me to acknowledge that my home country, Japan, contributes significantly to the decrease of whale populations all across the world. Whaling was, and continues to be in some countries, a tradition that existed in coastal nations for food and whale oil for many centuries. Japan is one of the many countries that push to conserve these “traditions”.
It is sad to hear the constant fight between whalers and those that work to conserve the whales. Ever since I fell in love with whales, I dreamed of working for whales, and my passion for them strengthened after I learned what my people have been doing to them. As a Japanese person who cherishes his traditions and as a whale lover, I want to become a conservation biologist and spread the word of how amazing whales are, how they contribute to balancing the ecosystem, and that if we do not react now, they may completely disappear from this world.
Photo credit: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/