Transition Ottawa

Building Community Resilience Through Action

A Pinch of 'Salt' and a Whale of a Journey Begins

This is a blog about Salt. Not table salt, like you might suspect, but “Salt”, the Humpback whale that I adopted from the good people at Ocean Alliance last year, as part of their adopt-a-whale program.

For those of you who might wonder what possessed me to adopt-a-whale, the answer is simple. I found a Yahoo news story that highlighted the alarmingly high levels of heavy metals in Sperm whales and decided to learn more and then perhaps, take action.

And so, innocently enough, it began.

What I quickly (and uncomfortably) discovered is that unraveling environmental issues is a little like installing new fixtures in an old bathroom. The shiny new taps might look “fresh”, but they also draw attention to everything else in the bathroom that looks shabby and outdated. In my case, it became abundantly clear that I had a lot of catching up (and waking up!) to do.

My first step was inspired by a comment made by David Suzuki that simply stated that if you want to learn more about Nature, then go live in Nature (this is not a direct quote, but the intent of the message resonates with me – and it is one of my guiding principles).

In lieu of gills and fins, I decided to use the Internet to research and learn more. One of the best spots that I found was Dr. Roger Payne’s Ocean Alliance Organization website because the information is researched-based (yes!) and balanced (yes!), which appeals to both the humanist and scientist in me. After a while, I gravitated to the “get involved” area, where I found the opportunity to adopt-a-whale for $25 … and presto, with a credit card and couple of clicks, I was an adopter.

That is the chronological recap of events; what I didn’t share was the overwhelming sense of connection, warmth, and delight that I felt when I first received a photo of Salt the whale, Salt’s family tree, and the update on Salt’s ocean travels. As I looked at a photo of Salt’s dorsal fins (whales are often identified by their dorsal fins) the deal was sealed and I knew that I was captivated by my 35-plus ton (equal to the weight of about 500 people) adoptee…hook, line and sinker.

Since then I’ve continued to educate myself on ocean issues (which can be overwhelming) and gather resources to share with others…plus, do a lot of thinking and observing. You see, the Sperm whale is at the top of the ocean food chain, just like the Human is at the top of the land food chain. If the Sperm whale is full of heavy metals, then there is a high probability that we, as humans, might be in the same predicament. To discern this, I’m going to invest in Hair Element Analysis via Rocky Mountain Analytical Lab in Calgary to see what heavy metals (if any) I am carrying in my body … and of course, I’ll post the results, if useful to myself and others.

1. Want to learn more about our oceans and whales? Check out the Ocean Alliance newsletter (well-written, courageous and informative).

2. For your kids: Once Upon A Tide, an award winning, 10-minute video project of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

3. YouTube Song Inspiration: The Last of the Great Whales written by Andy Barnes and sung by The Dubliners.

Look forward to hearing from you ... and enjoy the day!

Mildred Lynn

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Comment by Mildred Lynn McDonald on March 25, 2011 at 9:03am

Thank you very much for the encouragement - much appreciated :) On a humorous note, this morning I may have succeeded in convincing a Nova Scotia (naturopathic doctor) friend of mine to join me on a little trip to visit Ocean Alliance in the summer. I'd love to create a follow-up posting right from the field.. hmm, or the Ocean, so to speak :) Enjoy the day!  ML

Comment by Transition Ottawa (/jd) on March 25, 2011 at 7:07am
An excellent and inspirational piece Mildred. Thanks for sharing.

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