Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VI No. 1 January 1997

Warm Blooded Scientists

by William Rossiter

There are Warm Blooded Scientists, who care about things, and Cold Blooded Scientists, who are interested in things. The former hopefully outnumber the latter, but they are always an Endangered Species to groups like CSI. We are pleased and proud to know many of these special people as friends. They provide the core realities that empower our intuitive concerns. They apply their expertise to make things better. They cajole and push their peers to care, to get involved, to speak out. And for that more than a few have been chastised. It takes character and even courage to be a Warm Blooded Scientist, because the system scientists are squeezed through demands an almost inhuman approach to nature in the name of detached professionalism.

I've raised the issue, and a few eyebrows and hackles as well, partly in hopes of catching some new or aspiring scientists before they give away too much in training and end up cold blooded without knowing it. It's been happening too much lately. If you know someone in that situation please ask them to look around more; there are plenty of excellent role models out there that prove how productive and professional a warm blooded scientist can be, in spite of the system. Against the odds CSI has come upon a most remarkable cadre of young scientists in Latin America, where a whole generation truly cares, made of people who will have a significant impact on the future of cetology and the environment.

Two recent examples closer to home prompt this note. As I was recently sucked into the Pentagon for a dialogue with people who may not get enough training in listening I was accompanied by Dr. Stormy Mayo, right whale expert, behaviorist, Senior Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies, friend of mine, CSI's, and certainly the whales. Stormy is a major participant in the full spectrum of official responses to the plight of the right whale, and many other issues. He is an intense, impassioned, impressive environmentalist, well respected for his scientific work by his peers and many others. On this day Stormy crammed his busy life even more to get directly involved with the LFA. He really cares. And that's why he always has made a difference.

Another example is Dr. Chris Clark, Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell. Chris' expertise brings him up against all the acoustic pollution we flood the oceans with. As well as anyone he understands the impact of our noise on the organisms that live there, and on whole environments. Chris also cares, and at a recent American Cetacean Society conference he surprised many of us with one of the ways he expresses his concern; he is a gifted poet. With his permission we are pleased to share with you:


when I sing in the window of the world's leftover light
with the mantle's thunderstorms rumbling through the quilted sea
left alone to metronome my music within this blue deep night
full chorused distant voices echo back to me

where once our songs spired to the edges of the tide
now crowds of slow-burn giants without tempo grind
those who left to breathe their wisdom for prosperity's ride
prey to false enchantments of material and mind

old scars of death's survival lanced in black and white
now carbon-spined kinetics etch earth's primordial skin
their constant motions bring these oceans to the edge of life
I roam ancestral havens
hear the probing drones
know the reasons
and muse
                             are they worth believing in?
God knows they knew it
There's no way to prove it, besides
Once you've been through it
You can't hear the other side
It's only a matter of time
Before someone else will decide
It's not which one's better
But who gets the most from the lies


Go to next article: The Makah Whaling Dance or: Table of Contents.

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