EXPERT OPINION: 'We treat whales as a commodity'
AS THE World Whale Conference nears its final day in Hervey Bay, resident marine biologist, Yvonne Miles, gives her expert insights from inside the room.
ALL the candidates gathered to head out on a whale watching trip.
The candidates seemed very excited to get out into the Bay and see the humpback whales we had been talking so much about over the last few days.
When you talk to people who run businesses connected to the environment their job just does not stop with the work they do and get paid for.
Their passion reaches much further into their everyday life.
This "busman's holiday” for all the candidates proved the passion with which they approach their work.
For me personally, this conference has been very eye-opening in the way we as humans think and feel.
Even though we justify the connection to the whales, we are treating them as another commodity we are entitled to.
One speaker put it in perspective during the Q&A at the end of the day's sessions, saying "As a human, if a crowd of people stood around a mother who was breastfeeding her baby taking photos and videoing her for 90 minutes, how do you think that human mother would feel?”
Now convert that same feeling to the mother whale: how many times would she have to try and remove herself to feed her baby in peace, and how many missed feeding opportunities would it take for that calf not to get the nutrition it requires to survive the journey home?
This discussion was about the swim with whales in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Again, we look at the passion and care of all the candidates who run businesses around whale tourism and those at the conference were talking with care and compassion.
Even the marine park rangers who attended spoke briefly.
The trip out with the whales was a success, with a mum and calf calling in to see the candidates and some very energetic tail-slapping.
Everyone came back with a glint in their eye and a smile on their face.
Hervey Bay's humpback whale creche was a hit with the candidates from around the world.
Let's see if we become a World Heritage Site.