Friday, January 20, 2006

A Whale of a Tale

What does the protocol department of the Japanese Embassy in Berlin do when unwanted guests arrive at the front gate? It was precisely that question, which had to be answered last night when Greenpeace arrived with a 17-meter long dead whale on the back of a flat-bed truck. This was not your average embassy incident. While in Washington, Iraq protesters and a supporters of a deported Holocaust denier were among those outside the gate on Reservoir Road. But a whale… that has to be a new one for the embassy incident book!

17 meters (for those who are metrically challenged) is about the length of a city bus and a half. The poor whale (let’s call him Fritz) became stranded on the coast of the Baltic Sea and died on Sunday. Greenpeace brought Fritz to Berlin to protest Japanese whale hunts that are taking place in violation of a 1986 ban.

I paid my respects to Fritz on my way to work this morning. As I mentioned before, I am now working right across the street from a bunch of embassies. It was quite a scene: Greenpeace members in yellow jumpsuits and matted dreadlocks, parents with their children, television crews, LOTS of people taking pictures with their camera phones and LOTS of police. You could touch Fritz’s fin, but the idea of that creeped me out, so I took a pass. It was quite an amazing experience to look into the eyes of a whale…sad but amazing.

Greenpeace was taking Fritz back to the Black Sea region at 11:30 this morning so that he could be studied. Their actions may be too late to change Japan’s hunt this coming weekend, but hopefully enough minds were changed at the embassy this morning to make a difference eventually.

On a personal note, I really need to carry my camera with me at all times. The picture above is from Spiegel Online. Today proves that you never know when a giant fin whale will greet you on the street.


At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any word on how the embassy is responding? Anuradha

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to know - has the fishy smell permeated Berlin? Gross. Jennie

At 3:39 AM, Blogger Micha said...

That kind of stories makes me miss Berlin. As a German who stays in Amerika at the moment I really enjoy your comments about German live. It makes me feel that I am not the only person who hat to cope with a different culture and also gives me a new perspective on my beloved Berlin.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Careful, dear, there is such a thing like copyright, i.e. you're not supposed to use pictures, other people have taken, without asking permission (professionell photographers usually want to get paid).

As far as I know, the whale wasn't taken back to the Black Sea, but to where he was found. His bones will end up in the Maritime Museum Stralsund.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Hi Anuradha, I haven't heard of any comment from the embassy. Then again, if the government has ignored the ban since '86 I am sure ignoring one dead whale for 12hrs was no problem:-)

Hi Jennie, the whale didn't smell because it was so cold out. But Berlin is not without other yucky smells. I was greeted with quite a few in Neu Koeln this morning.

Hi Micha, glad you enjoy the blog. I totally understand why you love Berlin... what a fun city!

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the warning. Here's one for you... don't call Americans "dear." It is rude and patronizing!!! You are correct that Fritz will end up at the Maritime Museum, which as I understand is in the Black Sea region.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is beyond disturbing... I wouldn't even been able to look! I can barely stand to look at the pictures (btw- copyright laws concerning pictures on the internet are still foggy... attribution is the key, so I think you are good).
Most importantly, I am a little confused with Greenpeace's mission with the stunt. Yes, I sincerely disagree with Japanese whale hunting, however, this whale was not killed by them, and now, I am forced to wonder if making a spectical out of a poor, dead animal is cruel too??!!


At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Erin, I didn't mean to patronize you. Guess that was another cross-cultural missunderstanding.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Erin said...

No prob Bob...or Fred, anonymous, or the person I think this is;-) "Dear" is just a pet peeve of mine:-)

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's definitely not the person you think it is. :-)

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Earn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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