Reflection: Interspecies Relationships
Saving Luna
By Tessa Tapscott (05/13/13 22:30:10)
Related animals: Human, Orca

While the end of the documentary, Saving Luna, is heart-wrenchingly sad, one must look at the film and his life as a whole and try to extract the message the “little orphan whale” has taught us. The way Luna sought people out as companions is unusual for orcas, thus the established boundary between humans and whales was broken, and I think this worried quite a few people. It is true that such interaction with such a large and unpredictable creature could lead to endangerment of both whale and human lives, but I agree with the director in believing that trying to ignore the whale was not the right choice.
I think it is some what speciesist to assume that Luna would respond like all other whales simply because he was an orca. Are humans the only ones with widely varying personalities? Certainly many humans respond to situations in similar ways, but there are many cases of people, perhaps with psychological disorders, that cannot simply be lumped into and treated like everyone else. As the film stated, orcas are extremely social animals with highly developed senses of kinship and emotion, who is to say that Luna did not have some sort of psychological issue, either from being left alone at such an early age or from even earlier in his childhood? If a human were acting strangely, in a way that was counter to general demeanor, they would treated as an individual and helped as such. Yet when Luna acted differently many still tried to treat him like a normal whale, for whom human interaction would be a bad thing. This film, however, proved that this was not the right response, Luna needed the attention from humans because he would not have any other interaction. What did they expect to happen? For him to just swim around by himself ignoring the life above? Of course Luna got into trouble when he was ignored, he had no one else! It would be similar to a foreigner going to a town with hopes of interacting with a new culture as friends, but then being shunned for no apparent reason, even though at first everyone in town liked the foreigner. While regular whale interaction would have probably been much better for Luna’s psychological growth, the Nootka Sound was not equipped to offer that, so the next best thing were its humans. People have proven to be successful friends and guardians of many other creatures, where is line drawn between wild animal and companion animal?
I believe that in cases like these it is important for people to regard the animal with respect for its species, but also as an individual, who cannot and should be simply lumped into a category and dealt with based on statistics. I hope that Luna’s short life left an impression of all of those involved with him throughout his time spent in the sound. Luna’s life will stand as a reminder that humans can break the barrier between themselves and other animals, that we can help them just by regarding them as an equal and that interaction with them will help us to become more open minded, compassionate and intelligent beings.

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