WDCS would like to join with colleagues all around the world and pay tribute to a hero of the whale conservation movement, Dr Robbins Barstow, who is 90 years young on October 24th 2009.
Aside from being a life-long amateur filmmaker and a social justice activist Robbins is best known for his dedication to the Save the Whales Movement. In 1974, he co-founded what was then named the Connecticut Cetacean Society.
Robbins successfully lobbied the then Governor of Connecticut to proclaim May 2nd and 3rd, 1974 as “Connecticut Save the Whale Days” and he was instrumental in getting the sperm whale named as Connecticut’s state animal.
In the 1980s, Connecticut Cetacean Society changed its name to Cetacean Society International (CSI) to reflect the group’s growing impact on whale-related conservation issues around the world. In recognition of CSI’s work, in 1988, the United Nations Environment Program named the group to its Global 500 Roll of Honor. (please see website http://csiwhalesalive.org)
Robbins served on four occasions as a member of the US delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC). He was present the year the IWC adopted the global moratorium on commercial whaling, and has had a huge influence on the conservation movement engaged with the Commission since. Robbins championed the issues of ethics with respect to whales and challenged the conservation community to become protectionist in their stance. His compassion for whales was only matched by his compassion for people.
In 1983, he helped organized the Whales Alive! Conference, which was co-sponsored by CSI, the US government and the IWC. The conference, held in Boston, was the first global meeting to address whale watching and its economic benefits. While many people only see the Save the Whales movement as “anti-whaling”, Robbins has always sought to promote the positive aspects of whales, and to offer former whaling countries an alternative that could help offset any socio-economic losses due to the whaling ban. He was a visionary leader on the issues
In addition to his film-making, Robbins is also an author. His book Meet the Great Ones, co-authored with artist Don Sineti, has been used by schools across the state of Connecticut to educate children about whales and dolphins, and was also translated into Spanish.
Robbins still serves as Director Emeritus of the Cetacean Society International. He remains a friend to many in WDCS and a mentor to the whole community of cetacean advocates including our own Kate O’Connell and our colleague Mick McIntyre of Whales Alive.org
His courage, wit, warmth and hard-work ethic are cherished by all those fortunate enough to know him or just to have met him.
Robbins we salute you.
Update: Robbins many contributions to the State of Connecticut are being recognized by Governor Rell and she has proclaimed October 24, 2009, Dr.
Robbins Barstow day. Read the complete proclamation here.