There’s no denying that the world at large is pretty dependent on oil for, well, just about everything. And that means that people are always on the lookout for new places to find it. Just at this moment, the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, which is partly owned by shell, is hunting for oil… in a stretch of the Pacific inhabited by a certain sort of gray whale that’s critically endangered.
They are on the brink of extinction. “Just around 30 female western gray whales of breeding age remain”, says Aleksey Knizhnikov, Oil and Gas Environmental Policy Officer for WWF Russia. “The loss of even a few breeding females could mean the end for the population.”
Their lives are already disrupted by oil exploration and exploitation, and the company already has two platforms in the area. The new one is planned to be near their primary feeding area, one of the only places where the sea is shallow enough to enable mothers to teach their young how to feed on the seabed.
Does anyone else tear up a little when they hear about this sort of thing, or is it just me? It’s not that my brain automatically goes “oil bad, animals good” – I get that we still need oil and that oil has to come from somewhere. But 30 Western North Pacific gray whales of breeding age, all getting disoriented by seismic surveys and then having their only known feeding ground disrupted by the construction of a rig? Bleah.