Agriculture experts have teamed up with scientists and engineers to develop the first ‘whale farm’, an enterprise that seeks to increase the population of whales with breeding programs, protected migration, controlled slaughter and even milking.
“The husbandry is similar to land-cattle. We are enlisting the help of engineers that specialise in aquatic environments to help design the equipment and machinery required,” says Brennan Horswich, head of the program based on the Ivory Coast ‘Ranch’, “It is a real team effort. [The venture] is expensive, yes, but worth it. Just think of the benefits such a program would bring!”
Logistics is not the biggest hurdle, he says, even though tracking and driving a pod of whales across the expanse of the ocean is a feat in itself. Problems lie in how to artificially inseminate whales, or, if this proves too difficult, to encourage the right bull to mate. Further issues arise in predator control, health checkups, birthing and ensuring that the whales are happy.
“There are three main economic benefits that will come of this. First, there is the tourism for eco-watchers. Secondly, we aim to be able to harvest the milk of the cows (female whales) in the same way as we do cattle. Thirdly, the meat, bones, skin and especially the blubber is amazingly valuable,” says Brennan Horswich, “Tourism is easy. For milking, we are creating launches that will act similar to a suckling whale and float gently underneath. The milk is very rich, very nutritious.”
Once the milk is harvested, it goes into great, cooled vats to be pasteurised and processed. While the taste is not to everyone’s palate, efforts are underway to provide cooking techniques and examine ways to filter unwanted flavours.
He goes on to say that until a painless and reliable slaughtering technique is devised, his team will concentrate on the tourism and milking aspects.
“In any case, with proper breeding and farming practices, we will end up with more whales, and healthier whales, than what we started with and this, we can all agree, is the greatest benefit of all.”