Once a species became our target, there was now nowhere on earth that it could hide. Whales were being slaughtered by fleets of industrial whaling ships in the 1970s. The largest whales, the blues, numbered only a few thousand by then. They were virtually impossible to find. We found humpbacks off Hawaii only by listening out for their calls. Just listen to this. Recordings like these revealed that the songs of the humpbacks are long and complex. Humpbacks living in the same area learn their songs from each other and the songs have distinct themes and variations which evolve over time. Their mournful songs were the key to transforming people's opinions about them.
Animals that had been viewed as little more than a source of oil and meat became personalities. We are men and women, and we speak for children, and we're all saying,
Please stop killing the whales.
We have pursued animals to extinction many times in our history, but now that it was visible, it was no longer acceptable. The killing of whales turned from a harvest to a crime. A powerful shared conscience had suddenly appeared. Nobody wanted animals to become extinct. People were coming to care for the natural world as they were made aware of the natural world and we now had the means to make people across the world aware.