Keiko wasn’t the whale that sparked my interest in orcas – that happened before Free Willy came out – but he was the one whose story I followed very closely for almost a decade. I had half a dozen VHS tapes on which I’d record anything concerning orcas that would come up on TV, whether it was a documentary, a news clip, or a film snippet; folders were packed with newspaper clippings and magazine articles. At the time, most of that news coverage was of Keiko’s extensive rehabilitation and release. It was easy to fall in love with this huge, endearing animal whose life became far more fascinating than a wistful movie plot. Like so many others around the world, I felt like I was with Keiko for every challenge and success along his journey: every transfer, every “ocean walk,” every opportunity to interact with his own species, every return to humans. Though I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak those that worked with him felt when he died, I was devastated. That was the 12th December 2003. I painted a picture of him a few days later. (I’ve unfortunately lost the scan.)
I wanted to do a little tribute to commemorate him ten years on, but wasn’t able to finish in time for the exact date due to being so busy (it’s the time of year!). I did manage to complete this 10 x 8 painting on canvas today though, so I wanted to share it and remember a remarkable whale.
(Please do not delete text if reblogging. Thank you!)
 The number of whales killed around the world since 1985. Figures sourced from the International Whaling Commission. (ABC Fact Check ) 8 April 2014 |||  The number of whales killed around the world in 2012 or 2011. Figures sourced from the International Whaling Commission and Indonesian Ministry of Tourism. (ABC Fact Check ) 8 April 2014
THE STATE OF PLAY IN COMMERCIAL & SCIENTIFIC WHALING
Japan has announced it will not continue whaling in the Antarctic, after the International Court of Justice ruled last week that its “scientific” program was illegal. But they claim that 10 other countries still engage in whaling …
The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was introduced in 1946 after centuries of commercial whaling around the world sparked fears of widespread extinction. Initially, the convention - enforced through the the International Whaling Commission, of which there are 88 member nations - set limits on the number of whales permitted to be killed each year.
In 1985 the commission introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling applicable from the beginning of the 1985-86 season. Since then just a handful of countries have continued to hunt and kill whales for commercial purposes. …Today commercial whaling is conducted by Norway, which has consistently objected to the moratorium since its introduction, and Iceland, which initially conducted a scientific program following the introduction of the moratorium but has since returned to commercial whaling.
Both countries conduct whaling only in their own exclusive economic zone, not in international waters or the territory of other nations. Between 1985 and 2012 more than 22,000 whales were killed by objecting countries as part of their commercial programs. Of those, over 10,000 were taken by Norway and more than 5,000 were taken by Japan, before it ceased commercial whaling in 1988. _____________________
Under the convention countries are allowed to conduct whaling that meets a scientific purpose. The clause that allows this is very broad, and enables a country to issue its own permits for scientific whaling.
Between 1985 and 2012 more than 15,500 whales were killed through “scientific programs”, more than 14,600 of those by Japan - the largest whale take of any nation since the moratorium began.