5th Marianas History Conference Day 1 - 3

Page 103

Panel: Maritime Resources

Of Songs of Birds and Whales, How Much Must We Lose?

By Dr. Kelly Marsh-Taitano and Hon. Sheila Babauta

Abstract: Whales have long been a part of the ecosystems in the Mariana Islands and part of the lifeways of the ancestors of these lands. Yet in modern times we know so little about their very existence in our waters while globally, so much about them remains unknown. Which of us know that there are over 20 species of whales in our waters, or of our area’s significance to their very survival? This presentation explores the relationship between I mambayena siha yan taotao tano’ (whales and the people of the land) and the impact of whales in our lives over time. We are now at a crossroads. Once Navy active sonar was introduced to our region, for the first time in recorded history, beaked whales began washing up dead on our shores, with an unknown number perishing in the ocean. What steps are island leaders taking to protect these precious parts of our community resources? Will our whales suffer the same fate as our birds? Will we lose them before we even fully understand their significance to us?

Zoom Recording