Calm Before the Slaughter

By on March 3, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

I am feeling a great sense of anticipation as our team is about to head to the ice floes in Atlantic Canada to see the seals, in advance of the slaughter which is set to begin later this month. We are here to refocus a global audience on the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world.

Nigel Barker and Wayne Pacelle in Canada for visit to harp seal nursery
© The HSUS
With Nigel Barker, fashion photographer and seal advocate. Nigel
designed this campaign T-shirt (sold here on our online store).

We finally got to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island late last night. We had a bumpy plane flight into Halifax, as a major snow and wind storm kicked up. It prevented us from flying into Charlottetown, so my colleague John Grandy (who has been leading the fight to stop the seal hunt, along with Humane Society International’s Canadian Director Rebecca Aldworth) secured a rental van and drove four hours through the snow to get us to Charlottetown.

We are joined this year by Nigel Barker and his team. Nigel is one of the world’s most renowned photographers and a judge on "America’s Next Top Model." He’s got a fire in his belly on the issue, and he is determined to bring back images of the seal hunt to show the world and help stop this awful slaughter.

Here are some thoughts from Nigel and Rebecca as we prepare to visit the harp seal nursery.

From Nigel:

Well it has already been quite a journey getting here but well worth it! We woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky and lots of snow—looks like perfect weather to see the seal pups. I am so excited at the prospect of seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat and I am also gripped by the impending hunt only a few weeks away. Our job today is to celebrate the seals and this stunning frozen landscape. I hope my photos will encourage ecotourism to the region and prove once and for all that the color of ice should be white not red.

From Rebecca:

Rebecca Aldworth visits the harp seal nursery
© The HSUS
Rebecca on a past visit to the seal nursery.

Every year this icy landscape, filled with nursing pups and their mothers, astounds me. It is one of the greatest wildlife scenes on this planet.

However, it is one that is about to be turned into an open-air slaughterhouse. It is hard to imagine that within weeks, these defenseless baby seals will be killed for their fur.

This trip to the seal nursery is an essential part of our effort to publicize the beauty of this scene, to showcase the ecotourism opportunities that exist here. Live seals should be worth more to this region, and to Canada, than dead ones.

Years ago, Canada ended commercial hunting of whales. Canada invested in whale watching, developing one of the most important tourism attractions in the country. Today, whale watching is a vital part of the economy, with tourists flocking from all regions of the globe to watch the magnificent creatures in their habitat. Today, few would argue that the tourism industry is worth more to Canada than whale hunting.

It is my hope that seal watching will soon replace seal hunting in Canada and that tourists will only remember the seal hunt as a part of the distant past. If this trip succeeds in waking the world to the plight of the seals, that day may come very soon.

Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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