It Was A Time of Hope…

…and that time is never over.


Many times, they’d tried to kill her; a beautiful blue whale, eighty-feet-long, the length of a railway car, and weighing ninety-tons; the combined weight of a thousand men, her tongue as big as an automobile, and her heart weighing as much as an elephant.

From time-to-time, she had found other whales in the millions of cubic miles of oceans and met them, joyfully, but at that time she had not reached sexual maturity.

Today, in her eighth year, she is looking for a mate in the warm, Hawaiian waters. She feels such joy, having heard an answer to her calls. A bull whale turns toward the sound of her faraway cries and beat his flukes, swimming to meet her, all the time sending forth his sonar voice…he calls, a thousand miles between them. She, too, bumps her back and beat her mighty flukes, making urgent noises, calling…I’m here…I’m here…and to tell him to keep calling so they could find each other in the watery vastness. Five days, through the night, the two animals ran toward each other, under the sea, and those calls were getting louder and clearer all the time. Then they were only twenty-miles apart, calling and galloping and they were exhausted. Suddenly, their blows were at the surface, silver spray on the gold and the red of dawn…and they collided in a display of love, the sheer energy of affection culminating in the two huge bodies rising, then crashing into the ocean…and this went on…the beauty of leviathans greeting each other and making gigantic love in the Hawaiian waters.

Loki, their calf, was just three years old when the dawn rose in the form of a thin bright line above the curve of the earth. It was heartbreakingly beautiful. Smudges of tangerine, like a whore’s blusher, heralding its arrival. It is a perfect dawn, fit for execution.

THUD! A thick white line trails the projectile after the explosion that set it on its way resonated through the icy arctic air. It’s over of course, even before the missile impacts with the target — it’s over. The crew in the inflatables stare helplessly, holding their breath, waiting the inevitable as the line twists and wriggles on its downward arc. Tears of frustration well up in sorrowful eyes then fall down ice-covered cheeks. Throats constrict, blasphemies slip unheard from tight lips, and hearts become heavy.

BOOM! A second chilling thud. This explosion happens deep within the whale’s rib cage, followed by utter quiet, then a mighty gasp, as one agonized breath blows crimson onto the wind.

Several Japanese women jump and clap their glee on the deck of the whaler. For these women it’s a job; it’s all about money — money for their children’s education, new clothes for winter, medicine for a sick relative, or perhaps an opportunity to settle a long outstanding debt for fuel, which had warmed their homes.

To the four men and one woman in the zodiac craft, it is murder done with might. Heads fall into hands. Stronger ones find the compassion to rest their hands on the shoulders of others, while two more thunderous booms jerk at the hearts of the rubber-suited protesters.

A mile to port, another ship observes the illegal insanity.

In the far distance, a mother is calling…but maybe it’s too late. The bull is fighting the pain, having sacrificed himself to protect the calf, charging the hull of the catcher boat.

Then, from the inflatable, a yell of surprise, almost lost on the wind. There is frantic activity as others leap up and point. Yes, a glimpse of hide. The powerful outboard motors splutter and smack into life, salt waters spark silver as the inflatable craft skims speedily into action. Nearby an island of blackness surfaces, and in the yellowing light a small fountain of pure salt water breaks over the gleaming hide.

a protestor yells, then another…

But the protesters are not the only ones to catch a glimpse, as the Japanese whale women, too, scream to get the attention of the harpoon gunner. At the bow of the catcher boat, the massive thrashing of defiance has concluded in a bright circle of red that floats on the waves like a fallen rose petal. There’s just a chance the gunner is too involved in retrieving his first kill — long enough for the protesters to create distance between them and the calf.

The rubber suited men and one women spring into action, yelling, making as much noise as possible. One protester hurls a coin size piece of plastic explosive into the water behind the calf. These small, man-made explosives, lobbed aft of the calf create a plume of water ten feet high. At first, the calf is frightened by the noise and flees, but then hears his father agonizing. Suffering the terrible rupture in his exploded lungs.

The calf instinctively turns back into danger.

One protester, balancing with great agility in the zodiac, holds fast the rope that brings up the nose of the rubber craft. He signals to the helmsman to come between the harpoon gunner and the calf. The zodiac slips briskly between the catcher boat and the small whale. There's no profit in the kill of such a small whale, except that it will bring adults in close, trying to protect the young. The harpoon cannon sticks out menacingly from the bow. The calf is a mere twenty feet long, weighing something close to five tons, and just off suckling. Bright red water slurps heavily over the rubber craft as it twists and turns in the helmsman’s attempt to divert the calf from the savagery enacting out sixty-feet away.

The gunner calls for another explosive harpoon. To his left, a winch screams with effort as the bull whale continues to fight against its pull. Perhaps the bull understands the need to keep fighting, all the time giving his son a chance to put distance between them. Another whaler stands poised the harpoon line, ready to throw water on the winch as it steams, sizzles and bubbles with white hot heat. The metal line is holding fast onto the bull; three prongs sprung out and buried into his fleshy blubber just above the flukes. The harpoon gunner wants this fight to end quickly.

THUD! — vibrates the air. There’s no hope of saving the fighting leviathan. The protesters’ attention is wholly focused on the calf.

BOOM! The sound shudders through every tingling nerve. A second, deeper explosion shatters and splinters into fragments what remains of the bull’s rib cage. His lungs shred open and in his death defying dance, a last breath blows a twenty-feet fountain of red onto a biting wind.

Then calm.

Another lance is hurled down by a man standing along the rails of the whaling ship. It sinks deep into the side of the whale. This lance has a hose attached. The whale man attaches the hose to a pump. Two sharp tugs on the starter rope and air pumps into the dead carcass. Finally — a flag spear is delivered into the dead whale. Soon, its great size will be cast adrift to await the arrival of a factory ship.

The protesters continue with their plan, the calf time and time again in an effort to change its desire to get close to its father. The bull is now silenced, the calf directionally confused, alone and frightened. The gunner curses inside that he killed the bull too quickly.

From the inflatable, another piece of plastic explosive is hurled into the water behind the calf. It takes off — diving in panic.

Ten miles away, his mother is calling — sonar clicks rushing through the divide of terror and lostness and all the time reassuring the calf…

The crew of the Japanese whaler stand along the rails looking down at their catch. One woman, with a bottle in hand, dances in celebration; another holds up a banner:

For an hour, the zodiac hounds the calf and all the time his heart is crying out…but from the narrowing distance, sonar clicks are guiding him. Loki follows that instruction from the voice coming into his head — and what is coming into his head is…It is her cry of encouragement, and of her horror.

The bull floats away, freely. It will float steadily for three days. The forty-third kill in a three-month whaling expedition; an expedition sanctioned by the IWC. () Seven more kills and the Japanese whaling crew can head home, having earned enough money to get through another bitter winter, put shoes on their children’s feet, food in the fridge — and the hope of a better Christmas.

There are no satisfactory smiles on the faces of the crew in the zodiac. With the calf reasonably safe for the night, minds turn back to the savagery of what they witnessed and will continue to witness. Christmas won’t happen for the Japanese whaling fleet if they are to have their way.

There are many whales in the area, and the catcher boat will be free to pursue again, come another dawn.

Exhausted, the Zodiac crew rock quietly on the Barents Sea. It’s hard to look at each other; it’s harder still to understand what happened. Their eyes search the lapping waters for answers, and minds look to hearts. There are no answers today — no celebrations, there is only desperation and tiredness.

Words cannot speak for what the heart feels.

Steaming to their aid, in the dimming light, carrying cups of hot chocolate, new plans, dry clothes, and the best wishes of the world, is a .



I was born in London, adopted, lived my youth on an island off the coast of Scotland. Now living between Colorado, Missouri, California. I write to be loved

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Harry Hogg

I was born in London, adopted, lived my youth on an island off the coast of Scotland. Now living between Colorado, Missouri, California. I write to be loved