Interested parties can get up close and personal with humpback whales during the Welcoming Whales presentation at the Tidal Art Centre in Lund on August 21.
Jude Abrams, who will be facilitating the presentation, indicated that humpback whales are returning to their old feeding areas after industrial whaling slaughtered their ancestors more than 100 years ago. She said Welcoming Whales is an audiovisual journey to learn how whales communicate, socialize, work together and play together, and how to keep welcoming them back here year after year.
“Basically, it’s going to be a celebration of the return of the humpback,” said Abrams. “We have a lot of video and sound recordings that we’ve done since 2015. We want to share some of those and we’ve been trying to get to know the whales and communicate with them. We want to understand their behaviour and their social structures.”
Abrams said humpbacks stayed away from here for a long time. She said prior to commercial predation, there was a lot more life in the Salish Sea.
“We killed a lot of things here, which is something I’d like people to really know because I don’t think a lot of people know what used to be here, and what could be here again,” added Abrams. “That’s another thing I want to introduce in my presentation. The whales are a good omen and a hopeful sign that we can actually regenerate and turn things around.
“The whales have taught us so much. Trying to get to know them has opened up realms of wonderful insights. They’ve been friends in many ways.”
Abrams said it is important that humanity does not take away all of the whales’ food, as well as making sure people do not leave rope and abandoned fishing nets for them to get entangled in.
“Because I’ve done a lot of hydrophone recording, listening to the Salish Sea, you can kind of get a sense of what it must be like to live in that environment, and how sound moves,” said Abrams. “After the presentation I am going to go down to the Lund dock and drop the hydrophone so people can hear a little bit of what it sounds like. They’ll probably hear a lot of our noise pollution from boats. How can whales stand it, really?”
Whales communicate, and Abrams said she really enjoys when whales practice singing in the fall.
“It’s really thrilling,” said Abrams. “I have recordings from here and I also have recordings from Mexico because I went down there to connect with the Mexican researchers.”
In addition to the whales’ sounds, Abrams has some spectacular images and video of humpback whales. She said her partner, Terry L. Brown has captured some amazing footage of whales here.
In trying to expand her knowledge of whales, Abrams has connected with people in Tla’amin Nation if they have stories in their families about whales.
“There were a lot more of them and a lot more whales on the water over 100 years ago,” said Abrams. “That’s something that I would like to learn more about.”
Abrams said she has conducted whale watching locally between May and the end of September, but mostly in the summer months.
“The highlight is now,” said Abrams. “This is when you can go out on the water and probably see humpback whales. The things for boaters to be aware of, because there’s a lot of people who like to go very fast in their boats, when whales are sleeping, they are just above the surface and they blow gently, so this is the time to be careful and vigilant.”
In terms of her presentation at the gallery, Abrams said she doesn’t have to do anything because the whales will do it all. The free presentation will be held at 7 pm.