In a couple of days, Hambleton said, he'd be leaving for Western China with Psihoyos, and the six-person "Pirates of the Caribbean" prosthetics crew, who had designed him a new face, with straight dark hair, a broadened nose, darkened skin, and brown contact lenses. Disguised as a Chinese-American buyer, he was going to film at an exotic-meat market in Wuhan, where tigers and dolphin heads are said to be sold openly, and use the footage for a television show about environmental crime-solving. Psihoyos would probably have to sit in a wheelchair to conceal his height. The prosthetics took six hours to apply, and had to be worn overnight. He showed me a pictureshades of Mickey Rooneyand mentioned that he'd also be looking for human-fetus soup. (Human-fetus soup is a hoax; the pictures online, which Hambleton showed me on his laptop, are from a series called "Eating People" made by a Chinese performance artist.)
Hambleton told me he had heard about The Hump from a source at Sea Shepherd, a renegade anti-whaling organization. He wanted to sting them, and recruited Crystal to be the bait. At an apartment in Santa Monica on the night of the operation, Hambleton removed a snap from Crystal's Guess purse, and sewed a spy camera in its place. Crystal brought along a Chinese friend who spoke fluent Japanese. They settled on a backstory: they'd just taken jobs in Japan and wanted to acquaint themselves with the culture by eating the most exotic food possible. "I thought, 'This will be scary and I don't know how I'll feel, but there's no other option but to leave with a sample of whale meat,' " Crystal told me. Her friend, Crystal said, wasn't vegan, nor was she an animal activist. She was in it for the free sushi.
Not all that long ago, the U.S. government tried to convince people that whales, whose oil was used to light lamps, lubricate transmissions, and make margarine, were edible. In 1918, at a gathering at the American Museum of Natural History in New York described by the New York Times as "a conservation luncheon," the chef from Delmonico's served humpback pot au feu and whale planked a la Vancouver. The diners, "men prominent in scientific, business, and professional spheres," praised it: so like venison! Given its cheapness, they "were almost unanimously in favor of having whale meat substituted for beefsteak and urged its immediate adoption as a feature of the national war diet." Again, in 1943, the Times reported that "Whales, those greatest of mammals whose pastures comprise seven seas, will be hunted for their flesh, which will be used to help fill the gap in the nation's meat supply." The Department of the Interior gave reassurances that the meat was "wholesome when properly handled and it does not have the fishy taste which makes seal meat almost unpalatable."
Over the next several decades, the popular conception of whales began to shift, from floating oil factories to noble, cerebral beings. In 1970, Roger Payne, a marine scientist, published "Songs of the Humpback Whale," a recording of humpback music he and his wife made from a sailboat: groaning whales, creaking rigging. Other researchers reported advanced social behavior: humpbacks make bubble nets to trap their prey; sperms can nurse for up to thirteen years; and killer-whale males live with their mothers into adulthood. Much remained mysterious, particularly about the baleen whales, which are too big to study in aquariums, but it was easy to make inferences from their large brains, complex neural pathways, and the behavior of their clever smaller relatives, the dolphins.
The American public began to view killing them as both an ecological and an ethical tragedy. After centuries of increasingly technological hunting, several whale species were nearly extinct. Eating them, which in spite of the government's efforts, never caught on here, suddenly struck people as obscene, practically cannibalistic. In 1972 Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, prohibiting the taking and importation of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, regardless of population numbers; the Endangered Species Act of 1973 outlawed the hunt, harassment, and capture of vulnerable populations. Violations of these laws can lead to imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. In addition, since 1986 the International Whaling Commission has upheld a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling.
Excerpted from Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear. Copyright © 2013 by Dana Goodyear. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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