Monday, September 02, 2002

Swimming with Orcas....
Remember Willy, or Keiko? After the movie, when people found out that Willy was still living in captivity, public opinion demanded that he should be set free. Since then he's been trained to survive in the wild, living in a fjord at Island. This summer, according to the enthusiastic reports of the Keiko-watch, he's been swimming with wild orca.

That's what he did in July. Now it's September, an Orca is a swift, strong swimmer and he can cover large distances quickly. These days he is in Halsafjorden, somewhat north of here, where he trails porpoises for the fishing and the company. When he gets bored with that he begs fish from fishing Norwegians and play with children when they swim in the fjord. For some reason I am not too reassured by the combination Orca, children and play.

The Norwegian coastline is heavily trafficked, with lots of small boats on the water, and people use the water both for transport and for leisure. For a social beast such as a killer-whale, who's been trained to consider humans company and a source of food, the fjords offer shelter from the weather, entertainment and all kinds of eating. Only these fjords are populated with people who, while they would normally keep a healthy distance to wild orca, are thoroughly charmed, but totally inexperienced with the handling of such a big, efficient - although tamed - predator.

I think the orcas of the world should be spared from being trapped in tiny pools in sea-worlds for the entertainment of humans. But I also think that freeing tamed predators is a very dangerous prodedure - not only to the beasts. Let's just hope Keiko doesn't get clever ideas about "playing"... or I will suddenly be all for a bout of whaling in the local fjords.

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