Having recently returned to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, where I was observing the Atlantic population of Humpback whales on their mating and calving grounds (photographs below), I have been inundated with sad reports from New England about dolphin strandings. It is becoming more and more obvious that humans know very little about the creatures that share our planet.
We may have named many organisms and have an approximate idea of where they fit into their respective food webs, but, with the recent mass cetacean strandings on Cape Cod, it is clear that many factors affecting animals, both big and small, are still beyond our grasp. This is most likely because the powers-that-be have not seen fit to devote enough resources towards research. Whether the dolphin strandings have anthropogenic roots, some association with prey, or something that may be completely unrelated, they are a complete mystery.
Our lack of understanding is humbling, especially when it involves the death of such incredibly well adapted marine animals. With the Cape’s unfortunate dolphins becoming less “out of sight, out of mind,” maybe these strandings will cause enough interest in cetaceans and their marine environment to warrant more resource allocation to further study them.
Award-winning photojournalist Ethan Daniels is the author and photographer of Under Cape Cod Waters (June 2010, Union Park Press), a stunning and unique portrait of the world beneath the Cape’s waters. With the trained eye of a scientist and the sensibilities of an artist, Daniels reveals the fascinating and resilient life forms that play such a vital role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of this cherished peninsula. Under Cape Cod Waters is available in bookstores and online.
Ethan just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, where he was tracking Humpback whales. He has generously allowed us to share some of those wonderful photographs with all of you. Enjoy!