Backlit and buoyant, a humpback whale calf glides through sun-dappled waters off the coast of Tonga. The young calf and his mother will stay here during the austral winter and spring months. Come summer, they’ll head for feeding grounds along the Antarctic coast. Slow swimmers who hug the shoreline, humpbacks proved easy targets for commercial whalers in the early 20th century and were hunted nearly to extinction. In 1966 the International Whaling Commission imposed a ban on commercial hunts of these whales, though they are still hunted by aboriginal communities.
Two articles in this issue speak to the future of the oceans' whales. The first, on page 6, offers one woman's view on differing cultural perspectives regarding whales and dolphins. The other, on page 10, discusses the U.S. government’s responsibility to impose trade sanctions on Iceland for whaling and trading whale products in defiance of international law.
Photo by Scott Portelli