Posts Tagged ‘sperm whales’
The Phantom, Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin, has emerged from the jungle.
As chronicled in The Last Whale, The Phantom took a leading role in the original Save the Whales campaign which eventually saw the end of ‘commercial’ whaling and the creation of the South Ocean Sanctuary.
The Phantom was spotted in Morocco in June 2010 where the International Whaling Commission was meeting. He told friends he was again taking an active role to stop whaling. He’d withdrawn from the world stage in the 1980s because he felt the whales were safe. This had dramatically changed with proposals which may allow commercial whaling again.
See the photograph taken by Australian Jonny Lewis. Jonny and Jean-Paul formed the Whale and Dolphin Coalition in 1977 to take action against Australia’s last whaling station in Albany, Western Australia. They both piloted Zodiac inflatable boats to run interference against the three vessel Australian fleet.
It was Jonny Lewis who coined the nickname The Phantom after Jean-Paul’s ability to appear out of nowhere to fight evil.
Jonny Lewis and Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin reunited in Morocco. The Phantom was particularly concered at Japan’s plans to take Cachalot (sperm whales) which have the largest and most complex brains on the planet. He regards these whales as his personal totem.
(First POSTED Tuesday, September 4, 2007)
The last whale was caught on November 20, 1978. That day nine whales were harpooned.
To fill the annual quota of 713 whales, the three whales chaser ships had to take six female sperm whales. But on the last day of operation (November 21, 1978) no whales were harpooned.
An extract from The Last Whale describing the last day of whaling in Australia:
November 21, 1978 —
The whale chasers dressed up for their last day. Each of the three vessels had flags and bunting flying. The crews had resigned themselves. The industry was gone and their jobs as well.
Those who’d never fired the harpoon cannon got their chance. Skipper Paddy Hart thought he’d give everyone a go. That way they would recall, years later, that they’d actually sent a harpoon flying. “We discharged a lot of shells,” he said.
The Mayor of Albany, Harold Smith, who had fought the political battle on behalf of the whalers, and Ken Marshall, the district’s senior state public servant, joined the crew on the Cheynes II.
“We didn’t see a bloody whale all day,” Harold Smith said. The last whale caught by the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was the previous day (November 20, 1978).
“As we came in, the manager (Geoff) Reilly fired a harpoon in the direction of the whaling station as a gesture. They came in right close to shore at Frenchman Bay and fired over at the whaling station.
Steam whistles blew as they returned to harbour. Bob Wych, chief engineer on the Cheynes IV, pushed the ship hard. He belted the shit out of the engine coming home and they gave a couple of toots coming through the heads.
On the Cheynes III, skipper Gordon Cruickshank relaxed the no-alcohol rule and broke out the beers. “What are they going to do, sack us?” he told the crew.
© 2008 Text Copyright Chris Pash. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph © Copyright ED SMIDT. All Rights Reserved.