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May 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Orca Slaughter at St. Vincent

from the May, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you're thinking about a diving trip to St. Vincent, you may want to think again when you realize it's still a whaling nation.

In early April, there were shock and tears on board the cruise ship TUI Discovery during a whale-watching trip when local fishermen from St. Vincent slaughtered an orca as they watched. Now, there have been further repercussions for the Caribbean islands that include St. Vincent and the Grenadines, when the company, Thomson Cruise, canceled all further whale- and-dolphin watching tours.

A crewmember from Fantasea Tours, which operates the trips, told how the 40 passengers were delighted to see a pod of four orcas approach, but were dismayed when locals turned up in a pirogue with a shotgun-powered harpoon gun mounted on the bow. Despite vocal protests, they killed one of the orcas and attached a buoy to it to prevent it from sinking. Then, in full view of the tourists, they killed a second.

The country's Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who has previously stated he would like to move the local industry away from whaling and toward whale-watching tourism, responded quickly to the Thomson Cruise incident. According to the Antigua Observer, Gonsalves said, "The person or persons involved in killing the two orcas are very hard-working fisherman. But what they did was plain wrong. Not just because it happened in front of tourists, but [because] they must not kill the orcas."

Now, if a few divers wrote Dr. Gonsalves, perhaps the suggestion of a boycott might move him to end the slaughters, as he says he wants to do. Write to: Office of the Prime Minister, Government of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Financial Complex, Bay Street, Kingstown, St. Vincent.

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