Not many people know that the sperm whale is Connecticut's official state animal. This harkens back to the 19th century when towns like New London were ports of call for whalers.

Today, all whales off our coasts are protected under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Throughout the European Union today, similar legislation also prevents whaling.

Only four nations track down whales: Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Japan

Commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1986 with a loophole for scientific research. Many, including whale activist Paul Watson, believe that the Japanese kill whales for food. The Japanese believe that the minke whale is in abundance. Researchers from Stanford University maintain that today's population of minke whales is roughly similar in size to populations prior to early 20th century commercial whaling of larger species.

Still, the Japanese continue to hunt whales in northern Antarctica, despite protests from nearby New Zealand and Australia. The Animal Planet's "Whale Wars" only begins to tell the story of Captain Paul Watson's passionate crusade to save the whale.

On Jan. 3, the Andy Gil, a $2.5 million space-age catamaran-style, biofuel-powered ocean-going speedboat sank after being hit by the Shonan Maru2, a Japanese whaler.

"Not hit," Watson said. "Deliberately rammed. The Gil was almost stationary in the water. The Shonan Maru 2 changed course abruptly and steered straight into it. One crewman broke two ribs. It was a miracle that no one was killed."

I have met Paul Watson, one of the founders of Greenpeace, and admire him for his relentless dedication to saving the whales. In support of his efforts, I have dedicated a portion of the proceeds from my new beauty cream OCEANIC to help his cause. OCEANIC captures the power of the ocean's renewable and sustainable plant life to give younger looking skin that is firmer and smoother in appearance.

To learn more about whales, plan a family trip to the Mystic Seaport or the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. At the Aquarium there are feeding times for Beluga whales throughout the day.

Once you see these beautiful creatures you will understand why they need to be protected. For more information, visit, www.mysticseaport. org

Cathy Kangas is the owner of Prai Beauty, and international line of beauty products. She started Beauty with a Cause to help animal welfare organizations around the world. She has committed a percentage of the profits of the company to this effort.