Ecologically Sound Frogboxes Are The Way To Move

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FROGBOX donates 1% of gross revenues to frog habitat restoration
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The boxes are delivered to your old address and are picked up at your new one.

Moving has never been so convenient and ecologically relevant, and although this subject is not directly tied to the usual subject of my blog (Southern Resident orcas), I am always happy to find companies dedicated to helping us all live with less impact on the Earth, and to do it easily. Frogbox does just that.

Unfortunately, due to U-Haul’s continual inability to provide trucks when and where we reserved them, the move did have some nightmarish qualities…but the Frogboxes definitely made up for it. Clean, green and sturdy, 35 plastic containers were delivered to my door by an efficient and cheerful worker, were easy to carry and efficient to stack. Less enchanting were their wardrobe boxes, which tended to fold themselves into parallelograms and trapazoids – but even those were fine once you got used to their recalcitrant nature.

My crew of college age kids were able to load and unload the containers in short order, and because the Frogbox company gives you several weeks to unpack I am able to take stock of my new place without feeling pressured to get the boxes back immediately. Yet knowing that the containers need to be returned is forcing me to unpack and put away some things that I might just as soon put off until later – and the last thing I want is to start acquiring boxes again with things I just don’t use, or things that I might want occasionally but not be able to find when I do need them because they are in a box in the garage.

Which brings me another aspect of moving – what do you do with all the things you no longer want or need? The constant sorting and delivering of items to charity and taking things to the dump are big headaches and consumers of time when you make a major move.

The solution is offered by the same people who started Frogbox: 1-800-GOT-JUNK. (To be accurate, the Frogbox company was started by a local franchise of Got Junk).

Those guys came and took away my much beloved stuff, promising to sort out what was recyclable and to dispose of the rest. They carted away the broken lamps as well as some nearly new gadgets and furniture, and although I was sad to send off things such as the Halloween costumes I had made when my kids were little, I was also relieved to have more time for packing.

Both companies are flexible about changing appointments, they understand the stresses of moving and will change days and times without fuss or charges. They make it easy and convenient, and their prices are reasonable. With no boxes to buy and tape then dispose of, the easy to carry Frogboxes are ecological winners, and the Got Junk guys do their best to keep things out of the landfills.

Both companies work over much of the region, but so far are not set up to function on the San Juan Islands where recycling is so important, although there are plans in the works to do so.

I would love to see them start a sub-company in the San Juans where the orcas spend so much of their time, that would benefit the whales and/or the salmon that the whales depend upon for their survival.

L Pod Orcas Are Back In The Region

From Orca Network:

May 25
Beam Reach was with some of L pod alongside San Juan Island from just south of Lime Kiln Park to a few miles off False Bay, beaming reports from 1:13 to 4:23pm.

May 25
Jim Maya called at 11:27 to report L pod orcas off Eagle Point, San Juan Island, heading south.

May 25
11:55 AM: reports of many Lpod off Eagle Pt. area.
Ron Bates

It’s Beautiful Weather For Joining In Orca Network’s Planned Kayak Event Today! (5/15/10)

From Orca Network:

Orca Network is sponsoring a special protest in Coupeville on Whidbey Island on May 15th – since this is where Lolita was captured in August, 1970, Orca Network is inviting paddlers for a kayak (or canoe or rowboat) protest on Penn Cove at the capture site.

Park at the DNR beach access just west of the Capt. Whidbey Inn on Madrona Way and launch about 5pm, when the tide is coming up.

The idea is to paddle out to the actual scene of the capture, between the Capt. Whidbey and the Penn Cove shellfish dock, with a banner or two between kayaks.

Signs, flags, bumper stickers, inflatable orcas, etc. can also be used, and if you don’t have a kayak, canoes or small boats are fine. Depending on weather, time, and tides, we may also paddle to the Coupeville wharf, where an educational exhibit about the Penn Cove orca capture is displayed.

Many thanks to Shelby Proie in Miami and Niki Gianni in Chicago for organizing this International Day of Protest for Lolita, the last surviving Southern Resident orca in captivity, held in a small talk at the Miami Seaquarium for nearly 40 years.

There are dozens of cities around the country and the world holding demonstrations for Lolita’s retirement on May 15th. For the updated list of protest locations, go to: http://www.savelolita.com/2010/04/14/details-on-international-protest-locations-for-may-15-2010/.

J And L Pods Are Back In The San Juan Islands*

The Center for Whale Research and Orca Network report that the orcas were seen this evening, 5/14/10, off the westside of San Juan Island.

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Young male J26 (Photo by Katie Jones)

Welcome back!

*Correction, it looks like it is just L pod:

The Center for Whale Research was with members of L pod – the L9, L12, and L54 sub-pods, off Stuart Island at 3:42 pm, following them south. At 4:40 pm they were off Henry Island, at 5:30 off NW San Juan Island.

Seattle Joins International Protest On Saturday, May 15th To Retire Captive L Pod Orca

By Howard Garrett, Orca Network

International pressure has recently re-ignited the fight to retire Lolita, a 45 year old killer whale captured from Puget Sound who has been confined to restrictive and inhumane conditions at a US aquarium since 1971. Local supporters will stage a protest at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St. in Seattle, joining over 1,000 global supporters for an International Day of Protest on May 15.

On Saturday, May 15 there will be protests in Seattle, Olympia, Friday Harbor, and at Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, the scene of her capture in 1970. Protests will also take place in Victoria BC, Orlando, Sarasota and Miami FL, Portland OR and in dozens of other cities worldwide.

This L pod orca, Lolita, has been living in an 20-foot-deep tank at the Miami Seaquarium for the last 40 years. Her tank is only four times Lolita’s size in length, as deep as she is long, and is illegal by US Government Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations. Lolita is the oldest Southern Resident whale in captivity but only half the age of other females in Puget Sound. Lolita would have to circle her tank more than 600 times to cover the same distance her Puget Sound family members travel in an average day. Her current cramped living conditions cut her life expectancy in half. Her survival this long is a statistical miracle.

This Google map’s perspective of Lolita’s tank clearly illustrates her confined conditions and the restrictive tank size which violates APHIS regulations:

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=25.733022,-80.16453&z=18&t=h&hl=en

To date, 152 orcas have died in captivity, many of which were taken from the Southern Resident community in Puget Sound, now classified as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, the Miami Seaquarium is in need of major repairs, and per the Marine Mammal Inventory Report, has a substantial death rate for their animals.

A retirement plan for Lolita has been devised by Ken Balcomb, a marine scientist and orca expert at the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Wash. Under this plan, Lolita can live out the rest of her life peacefully in a sea-pen sanctuary in the San Juan Islands, be able to communicate with her family and the opportunity to eventually rejoin them.

From the press release by the Ocean Preservation Society in Miami:

An International Day of Protest in support of Lolita will be held in 42 cities around the world on Saturday the 15th of May 2010. This will be a major event in Miami.

The peaceful march is to highlight the tragic case of Lolita, an orca from Puget Sound held in a tiny tank at the Miami Seaquarium for the past 40 years.

The cornerstone protest will take place in front of the Miami Seaquarium between 12:00 and 2:00pm, 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami. For a list of the additional cities and protest information visit:

http://www.savelolita.com/miami-seaquarium-events/

http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=112983595389683

Ric O’Barry, star of the Academy Award Winning film “The Cove” will be in attendance in Miami.

Simon Hutchins and Gregory Mooney, from the Oceanic Preservation Society, the organization responsible for producing “The Cove” will also be in Miami for the protest.

*************

GENERAL INFO AND BACKGROUND.

http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/captivity.html

The Miami Seaquarium has been around for a very long time. Opened in 1955 and home to the “Flipper” TV series and films, unfortunately the Seaquarium is long past its “Sell By” date.

The Seaquarium was originally designed before a thorough understanding of dolphin captivity existed, and certainly was never intended to house two, or even a single orca.

Time has passed on the Seaquarium and the current owner no longer has either the money or the inspiration to modernize the dilapidated facility. Additionally, it is not staying current with modern morality. The Seaquarium continues to house animals in inadequate conditions and the orca, Lolita, is the poster child for this sad condition.

Lolita, an orca from L-pod, which resides in Puget Sound, was separated from her mother and captured in 1970. During the capture, 6 other orcas were captured, and 5 drowned. A total of 12 orcas were taken from L-pod. Of the 7 captured, Lolita is the only survivor today, all of her co-captives died prematurely, in captivity. Since the capture Lolita has lived in the Miami Seaquarium. This year marks the 40th anniversary of her confinement. Lolita’s probable mother is still alive and the matriarch of L-pod.

Lolita was originally acquired by the Seaquarium to be a companion for a solitary male orca named Hugo who was captured in 1968, but Hugo died in 1980, after only 12 years of captivity, from self inflicted injuries caused by hitting his head against the side of the tank. Lolita has now spent the last 30 years in solitary confinement.

Her only social companions are a few captive dolphins that share her tank, and of course her human trainers.

Remarkably, the tank that she once inhabited with Hugo is even too small for her alone and doesn’t even meet the basic legal requirements for orca enclosures. The USDA is aware of this and has done nothing, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of marine mammals (9 C.F.R. Section 3.104 – Space Requirements) state that the primary enclosure for a killer whale (Orcinus orca) must have a minimum horizontal dimension (MHD) of no less than 48 feet.

Lolita’s tank is only 35 feet across.

The Miami Seaquarium is considered to be one of the most dilapidated aquatic parks in the world. It is constantly in need of repairs. Additionally, as per the Marine Mammal Inventory Report, has a substantial death rate for their animals. They cannot get a permit to build a larger enclosure, and most likely wouldn’t do so anyway due to the capital cost.

What is the Miami Seaquarium doing to reduce Lolita’s suffering and increase her happiness? Nothing! Yet each day Lolita entertains the crowds and the Seaqurium owner Arthur Hertz counts the receipts. Hertz and the trainers are then free to leave the Seaquarium after the show when the Seaquarium closes, a basic freedom that Lolita doesn’t have. No captive marine mammal has the ability to do as they please, to seek happiness.

So how do we truly show Lolita that we care? For starters we can ensure her happiness and longevity. One way of doing this would be to retire her to a sea pen in her native Puget Sound. With this option she is no longer a slave to entertainment, and the chances of her longevity increases substantially. There has been a feasible plan in place for years.

Info on the retirement plan here:

http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/captivity.html)

But the Miami Seaquarium refuses to give up Lolita. The equivalent of her life insurance policy of $1,000,000 was once raised to buy Lolita from the Seaquarium to put the plan into action, but the owner refused the offer.

A grassroots movement to retire Lolita, and government intervention based on animal rights issues, are Lolita’s only hope.

With the recent events such as the tragic death of the Seaworld trainer, the congressional hearing, and the Oscar winning film The Cove, the issues of marine mammal captivity, and particularly orca captivity, have risen to the top as issues highlighting how we treat the environment around us.

Enough is enough. People and animals are dying for our entertainment.

The international day of protest for Lolita will happen on Saturday May 15th, 2010 at 12 noon, and will take place in 42 cities around the world, including in front of the Miami Seaquarium at 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami.

The protest will be a peaceful march to show the world that we care, and to show that the time has come to retire these majestic creatures and stop making them do circus tricks for our entertainment.

Simon Hutchins

simon@opsociety.org

1 (954) 646-3131

The Whales And Dolphins At Risk From The Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico

Today while I got my hair cut, I chatted with the stylist and mentioned that I’m considering taking my family down to help with the Gulf clean up this summer if help is still needed. The stylist mentioned that their salon is collecting the cut hair and sending it to be made into mats – apparently human hair is very absorbent, and the mats are used with the booms to contain the spill. It was a meaningful way for them to do something, and I think each of us can come up with a way to help out – even if it is just to seek out the salons that are participating in that program.

The spill will impact many species of whales and dolphins, some of which are endangered, and some that we barely know anything about yet. The following list is a sobering list of the whales and dolphin species that may be directly affected by the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

CETACEANS OF THE GULF OF MEXICO

The (E) next to the common name indicates that the species is listed under the
Edangered Species Act of 1973 as endangered .

Northern right whale (E)
Blue whale (E)
Fin whale (E)
Sei whale (E)
Bryde’s whale
Minke whale
Humpback whale (E)
Sperm whale (E)
Pygmy sperm whale
Dwarf sperm whale
Cuvier’s beaked whale
Blainville’s beaked whale
Sowerby’s beaked whale
Gervais’ beaked whale
Melon-headed whale
Pygmy killer whale
False killer whale
Killer whale
Short-finned pilot whale
Rough-toothed dolphin
Fraser’s dolphin
Bottlenose dolphin
Risso’s dolphin
Atlantic spotted dolphin
Pantropical spotted dolphin
Striped dolphin
Spinner dolphin
Clymene dolphin

Missing from this list are the hundreds and hundreds of other marine species that compose the Gulf food web, the destruction of which could impact the whales and dolphins for a long time into the future.

Among the most vulnerable are the eggs and juvenile stages of fish and invertebrates, such as shrimp, crabs and lobster which spend the early part of their lives in masses of plankton. For the most part, plankton are trapped by water masses and currents and have only limited ability to swim, and at night are generally confined to the surface layers. The krill that supply the large whales with energy in turn follow the plankton, putting the krill at the mercy of surface layer conditions.

It could be years until the food source for the whales and dolphins recovers, and for some species it may not be in time.

I may not be able to get down there myself, but it is nice to think that at least my hair is on its way there, to help sop up the mess.

The Resident Orcas Are Back!

I was thrilled to learn that the Southern Resident Orcas have returned to the area – although they are usually gone during most of the winter months, normally they put in an appearance at least occasionally. This year they were not seen since February 21st, so it was a huge relief to hear that the returning pod included the oldest member (around 100 years old) and at least several of the calves.

According to reports from Orca Network and San Juan Island resident Jeane Hyde, the orcas came in from Haro Strait and cruised along the westside of the island late yesterday.

We’ll update you on how they are all doing as the reports come in!