Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. IV No. 4 October 1995


THE MAKAH AND "AMAZING GRACE"

By William Rossiter


The Makah are a sovereign Tribal nation in Washington state, and they may be hunting gray whales soon. An 1855 treaty gave the Makah whaling rights, which may extend to commercial whaling. They have petitioned the IWC, initiated the delisting of the gray whale as an endangered species, (the current population is statistically able to support a "potential biological removal" of 434), and declared in May their right to an "interim" take of five whales. Negotiations between the Makah and federal departments are underway, nation to nation, totally out of public review.

CSI is opposed to any take of gray whales, but all we can do about it now is hold our breaths. The negotiations are delicate, the surrounding rhetoric is largely irrelevant, and the fate of "Amazing Grace" and her "friendly" kin is in jeopardy. Who is "Amazing Grace"? The gray whale that gently lifted our boat in February of 1977, soliciting and apparently enjoying my wife's rubbing of her gums and baleen, and apparently the whale that began what is now a major tourist attraction in Mexican lagoons. Yes, I care about Grace and her kin. This is not about casinos. If we can figure out what to do we'll certainly let you know. Any ideas?


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