Hello Great Whale Conservancy supporters and fans of Mz Blue!
Mz Blue, our 90-foot inflatable made her grand debut in Washington D.C. on Earth Day (April 22nd) and she made quite a splash. A photo of Mz Blue covering nearly half a page was printed in the Washington Post the following day, along with an extended caption that summed up the ship strike issue and our commitment to moving the transit lanes along the Pacific coast.
Thousands of people were awed by Mz Blue’s presence: on foot, in cars, or looking out from the thousands of windows that face directly onto Freedom Plaza from the buildings lining Pennsylvania Avenue, about three blocks from the White House.
It was a great chance for educating the public on the ship strike issue. We handed out background information, displayed photos of blue whales that had been struck and killed, and explained how moving the shipping lanes by a mere 15 or 20 miles was all that was needed to save the lives of these magnificent, intelligent beings with whom we share this Earth.
The next day we were on the Hill, visiting with Congressional staff. We hope to have a sponsor soon for a Congressional letter to the White House, asking President Obama to direct the Navy to formally sanction the use of an alternate lane that does not cut directly through critical blue whale feeding habitat between the Channel Islands and the California coast. We submitted our own letter to that effect to the Navy, NOAA and Coast Guard a month ago, signed by most of the major organizations working to protect whales around the world. Only NOAA has responded so far, unofficially, stating the administration is not planning to change its policy at this time. The day after Mz Blue’s coming out party, we delivered another copy of our letter, a folder of additional background materials and a copy of our ship strike video to Admiral Johnathan White, the Navy’s top oceanographer. As you recall, the Navy’s unwillingness to sanction the alternate lane directly supports the industry’s objection to rerouting – they like to have predictability in their day-to-day operations. Fair enough – but we all know they have been using that alternate lane intermittently for years and the Navy has almost always turned a blind eye.
We will keep increasing the pressure on the industry and the administration to do right by the blue whales. In the next few days we will be submitting the signatures of over 100,000 people who have gone to various websites to sign our position letter and watch our ship strike video. [If you haven’t seen the new version (Ships vs Whales – Director’s Cut), narrated by Louie Psihoyos, Director of the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove, you should check it out via the link on our home page.]
Finally, everyone at GWC would like to shout out a big thank you to Phil, Emily and James from the Greenpeace D.C. office. They volunteered many hours to our effort before and during the inflation on Monday, and were invaluable as we wrangled with Mz Blue on a blustery day. We’d also like to thank Greenpeace, NRDC, Sea Shepherd, Ocean Protection Society and all the other groups that helped us gather so many signatures in such a short time. And to Paul and Kathryn Armington for hosting the whole team while we were in D.C.
That’s the news from Washington DC. Please let us know if you have an event or program happening in your area that might be appropriate for a visit from the Big Blue One, or if you would like to host a fundraiser for GWC. Your support makes it possible for us to speak for the whales!