Romney’s Big Night – He Brought Tears of Mirth to Thousands (Hint – Romney Mocks Global Climate Change)

Does Romney’s staff really think that only dyed-in-the-wool republicans follow his campaign?  I can’t see any other reason they would have staged such an event as last night’s Republican National Convention dog and pony show.  From tea party darling Senator Marco Rubio’s gaff where he advocated for more government to Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair the evening provided pundits and comedians with months worth of material. 
As interesting as it was, the RNC didn’t have my full attention for the entire evening, and I was out of the room when Eastwood started his conversation with the imaginary Obama in the empty chair, so when I came in a few minutes later I really thought Eastwood was looking over to where Romney was and the whole thing was so bizarre that I was mesmerized.

But the capper for me was the sarcastic comments Romney made about global warming and rising sea levels.

From @invisible Obama: This week Republicans have established that Obama can control the weather and turn invisible.

Dolphin Drive in Taiji Begins Again – Dolphin Project Broadcasting Live On Three Days Beginning 8/31/12, 7:30 p.m. PST

Protesters in Taiji. (Courtesy of Sea Shepherd)

This photo was taken in Taiji – the very spot where Cove Guardians monitor the banger boats at sea. It is easy for us to take for granted that we can protest, but these courageous Japanese citizens are protesting against the killings of the dolphins at great personal risk. THANK YOU for being so brave and speaking out for the dolphins! (Sea Shepherd South Africa).

*************Japan is 16 hours ahead of Pacific time*************


Alert: Streaming Video and Tweets from Taiji

August 29, 2012 by Ric O’Barry, Earth Island Institute

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project in Taiji

Dolphin Project will broadcast live from Taiji on three days:

11:30 AM Saturday, Sept. 1st:  Tune in to see our events on the beach of the Cove. (7:30 pm Friday PST)

Noon Sunday, Sept. 2nd:  Broadcast from Taiji. (8 pm Saturday PST)

Noon Monday, Sept. 3rd:  Broadcast from Taiji. (8 pm Sunday PST)

All times and dates are Tokyo time.

Ric O’Barry’s Ustream Channel:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/savejapandolphins

Also keep up with our blog:

http://dolphinproject.net/

 

Twitter:  #Tweet4dolphins for updates from our team in Japan.

For Japanese: https://twitter.com/IrukaProject

Killer Whales in Captivity – Why All the Fuss?

While working on some other projects I stumbled upon this beautiful video that commemorates the death of a captive killer whale named Kalina, known to most of the public as the first baby Shamu to be captive bred and raised.
It is not relevant that the video was put together by someone who believes in keeping orcas in captivity – what struck me is how successfully the video communicates the love and deep connection people feel towards whales and dolphins. The difference between the folks who are pro-captivity versus anti-captivity (leaving those who are in it for the money out of the discussion) really boils down to choosing whether or not it is right to keep the orcas in tanks, or if we can find it in our hearts to let them be free.
Personally, and among the many people I know who have chosen to leave the captive industry and work to help the whales, the utter powerlessness you have as a trainer or researcher to improve the captive animals’ lives can make it a constant heartbreak to work with them – the public witnesses the beauty, grace, and power of the orcas, but knows nothing of the reality behind the shows nor how dangerous it is to people to be in the tanks with these whales.


But one thing we have learned over the last few decades is that by offering wild whales and dolphins protection instead of attempting to capture and kill them, they will grace us with their gentle and benign presence in the wild.

Roberto Bubas - Libro - Orcas del Chubut Patagonia

Photo by Peggy Stap

Alone and Miserable, Killer Whale Lunges at Trainer – Another Amusement Park Failure

Shouka, Six Flags’ 19 year old killer whale recently lunged aggressively at her trainer during a show (captured on a cell phone by a park guest, below). This serious breach came as a direct result of the amusement park’s lack of concern and illegal, inappropriate care of the whale. Activists have been trying to get the government to enforce regulations, without luck, and have circulated a petition to get action.
Meanwhile, Six Flags now has the trainers working behind a barrier to ensure the safety of the trainers, but have done nothing to help this bored, lonely whale, who has a mouthful of broken teeth.

From the petition for Shouka:

Shouka was born in captivity at Marineland in Antibes, France in 1993. For the first 9 years of her life, she lived with both her parents, other orcas and her siblings. In 2002, Shouka was importing to the U.S. under the care of Six Flags World of Adventure in Ohio. The intention of Six Flags was to import a wild caught male orca named Kshamenk who resides at Mundo Marino in Argentina. Due to the actions of several non-profit organizations and the law of Argentina, Kshamenk’s import was denied by the Argentine government.

A website dedicated to bringing attention to captive cetaceans, Without Me There Is No You describes the whale’s situation:

For the last 10 years, Shouka’s companions have been a few bottlenose dolphins. Her companion of 7 years, Merlin, a male bottlenose dolphin was removed from her enclosure and placed in another area of the park with other bottlenose dolphins. Shouka has been alone since November 2011.
Unfortunately Shouka would not be a good candidate for release. She has no bottom teeth and her wild family pod is unknown. She would be a good candidate for retiring to a bay/sea pen but if that’s not going to happen, then the least SF can do is make sure she has a companion and is not alone.
She was born with all her teeth. The condition her teeth are in now are a direct result of living in captivity. Since living at Six Flags, Shouka has broken and grinded down her teeth by chewing on the steel gates. In this video, Shouka’s trainer attempted to explain that orcas have hollow teeth and so they actively drill out the teeth as a proactive step so in case the tooth breaks, nothing gets stuck in her teeth and they can flush them out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2q_CzOuXEc&list=UUYWsqeOmlqyRjPXZ8w0PnkQ&index=14&feature=plcp
They only have “holes” in the center of the tooth IF the tooth has broken & the pulp died. Orca tooth anatomy is the same for wild & captive orcas…their teeth have a center soft fleshy pulp cavity which fills the “hole” & it is living tissue protected by enamel layers, sorta like a human tooth, just different material in the base. Instead of having what we know as a root they have pulp..but a healthy tooth is not hollow by any means. You can read more about captive orcas and teeth drilling here: http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/the-hidden-cost-of-captivity-oral-health-of-killer-whales-exposed/

This situation clearly can’t continue – from the amusement park’s point of view, their revenues are bound to tumble and as it has been demonstrated countless times, once industry’s bottom line is affected (or laws are enforced), they will take action.
Notice in the following sequence of videos,

  • First the original show uploaded July 5th shows Shouka refusing to perform (they take her in the back pool mid-show), but otherwise the show is the normal format.
  • Within days the frustrated whale lunges at the trainer (the original footage).
  • Finally, by the end of July the trainers are behind the barrier at the front of the pool trying to work the show – but now, because they are right below the audience it is hard to see what the whale is doing much of the time, and the big screen on the original stage is next to useless.



SeaWorld’s New Orca Calf – a New Low in Their Inbreeding Program

Loro Parque, Spain has announced the birth of a new orca calf…the announcement coming two weeks or so after the calf was actually born. For the second time in two years the mother orca, 10 year old Kohana (who belongs to SeaWorld) gave birth and then proceeded to ignore the baby.  Her first calf, two year old Adan, was bottle reared, and according to sources has had trouble being accepted by the other whales, a fate that is likely to be repeated with the new calf. Both calves are highly inbred (for an excellent explanation of the calf’s lineage, please read this article by Elizabeth Batt).
This video shows the birth and bottle feeding of the new calf, who has been  named “Vicky” ( Nacimiento de Vicky – Loro Parque means ‘Birth of Vicky’ – Loro Parque).


Contrast the life of “Vicky” with that of the new Southern Resident orca calf, J-49. Both calves were recently born to young mothers, but there can be no comparison in terms of the quality of life enjoyed by these two baby whales.  Given SeaWorld’s breeding program, it is likely that ‘Vicky’ will be bred and have her first calf at 8 years old like her mother, and also like her mother, Vicky will most likely reject her own offspring since she will not have learned how to parent.
J-49, on the other hand, is surrounded by a stable and successful family unit.

Little J-49, wild and free with her family. (Center for Whale Research).

A bit of History about the mother: The first catalog quality photograph we have of J37 as a baby was in August 2001, at which time she appeared to be five or six months old. Then, the first photograph we have of J37 with a baby was today, August 6, 2012, so we can assume that the new mother is 11 ½ years old – the youngest confirmed mother that we are aware of in the Southern Resident Community. With a gestation of approximately 17 months she must have been impregnated during or around January 2011 when she was about 10 years old! We had four encounters with J pod in January 2011 and all were with both J and K pods combined and L87. Hence, the father must have been among them at that time. Maybe this is why L87 is hanging around J pod so much!
A little bit about the family: The grandmother of the new calf, J14, is thirty eight years old and is the very productive mother of three living offspring and three that have not made it to the present time. Her first calf, J23 born in 1987, was a male that survived for four years. Her second calf, J30 born in 1995, was a male that survived until December 2011, but went curiously missing all of this year and is presumed dead. J37 is J14’s third calf born in 2001, and J40 (a female) is her fourth calf born in 2004. J14 had a neonate calf (J43) that was seen on one day, 24 November 2007, but it did not survive. Most recently, in March 2009, J14 had another calf, J45 a male, that survives to the present. The new calf of J37 will be designated J49, and it is born into a very productive matriline so we are hoping it fares well. With this birth, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Population (SRKW in government jargon) now numbers 86, though that number could change at any time with births and deaths.

Shark Week – Discovery Channel’s Edu-tainment a Success

If you managed to watch episodes of the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week extravaganza this week, you doubtless learned amazing things about sharks and the people who study them, and you might have gained perspective on the threat that those animals pose to humans.  We have all heard the statistics – such as that you are more likely to be hit by lightening than be attacked by a shark – but the Discovery Channel went way beyond that and showed how little interest the sharks have in eating us.
We watched people free diving and swimming with great white sharks, we witnessed Craig Ferguson (in a 2010 repeat) overcome his fear of sharks in a funny rendition of how most of us feel at the prospect of swimming with sharks. We watched the model megalodon ‘Sharkzilla’ as it bit down on a keg of beer, a jet ski, a kayak, an oil drum, and a television among other things. All in all, the Discovery Channel got it right, presenting an irresistible blend of breath taking images, accounts of attacks, research, and humor.


One of their sponsors, Volkswagen, got into the act by building a Beetle shark cage that drove along the sea floor – a great idea of how to dive with, or rather drive with, sharks. If you get uncomfortable you can just drive up on the beach.


Saturday morning until mid afternoon, Pacific time, you can still catch repeats of the episodes. If you would like more information on shark conservation, the following organizations worked with the Discovery Channel:

Shark Conservation
This year, Shark Week is supporting three organizations dedicated to protecting sharks: Oceana, the Pew Environment Group and Shark Savers. Please check out these three groups to find out how you can get involved.
Oceana (2012 Conservation Partner)
“”Oceana, the largest international organization solely focused on protecting the world’s oceans, believes you should be scared for sharks. Shark populations around the world are crashing. Sign the petition to protect sharks. To help Oceana make a difference, please sign their petition:http://act.oceana.org/sign/l-shark-esa/.”

PEW Charitable Trusts (2012 Conservation Partner)
“Nearly a third of all shark species are at risk of extinction due to demand for shark fin soup, which drives the killing of up to 73 million sharks annually. If this slaughter does not stop, these ancient predators will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. For more information, go to www.pewsharks.org. You can join us in supporting global shark conservation at www.pewenvironment.org/sharkpetition.”

Shark Savers (2012 Conservation Partner)
“Shark Savers is dedicated to saving sharks and mantas through building awareness, education and action. Founded in 2007 by six long-time divers with a shared passion, our mission is to save the world’s dwindling shark and manta populations. Today, more than 25,000 members from 99 nations share that passion. Focusing on action and results, Shark Savers’ programs result in more protections for sharks and mantas, locally and globally. By leveraging broad professional experience and ocean expertise, Shark Savers brings this important issue to the public in many compelling forms, motivating people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, working for the creation of shark sanctuaries and empowering divers as advocates and citizen scientists for sharks. For more information, go to www.sharksavers.org.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
“From the white sharks that silently patrol the Gulf of the Farallones to the graceful hammerheads that congregate at the Flower Garden Banks, sharks are some of the national marine sanctuaries’ most beautiful — and important — underwater residents. Find out more at: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/features/0812_sharks.html.”

Get involved this Shark Week — support our conservation partners, and tune into Shark Week’s conservation-related shows on Discovery Channel.

Shark Week: Great White Highway

Discovery Channel August 16th, 6 and 8 pm Pacific time.
Tonight’s episode shows how scientists tag and monitor the migratory patterns of great white sharks. The researchers identify the sharks by the pattern of the trailing edge of their dorsal fins. and have seen one individual, “Tom Johnson”, for 25 years. The knowledge gained by this research is more evidence that these maligned predators are essentially benign towards humans.
This is a fascinating look into the lives of these magnificent predators, well worth watching.

Migration of Great White Sharks

Shark Week – “Shark Fight”, It’s Not What You Think

Check your schedules and set your DVRs, this episode of Shark Week promises to be inspiring. ‘Shark Fight’ is not about sharks engaged in some kind of mortal combat, instead it is about people who have been bitten by sharks, but who not only continue to swim in the ocean but who have become advocates of shark conservation as well.

SHARK FIGHT

Discovery Channel Premiering Wednesday, August 15, 9PM e/p (6pm and 8pm Pacific time)


They’ve been through the ultimate nightmare: hand-to-jaw combat against the ocean’s apex predators, losing limbs and barely escaping with their lives. Yet even after the attacks, they’re still fighting, but what for will surprise you. Amazingly, dozens of shark attack victims around the world have devoted their lives to saving their attackers. They have turned what could have been tragedy into their life’s mission, becoming some of the most powerful shark advocates on the planet. Meet the Shark Survivors and hear their stories of resilience and triumph as they fight what they consider the ultimate battle: saving sharks and our oceans.


Shark Week: Sharkzilla – Discovery Channel Partners With Mythbusters to Solve Mystery

So far, the Discovery Channel is keeping its promise to add more conservation and educational content to its 25th annual line up of shark shows. There is plenty of footage to feed our phobic natures of course, but by and large the shows contain at least a nod towards science and conservation.
This sequence of videos from last night’s feature shows the fun approach brought by Mythbusters to what could have been a dry subject, in which they reconstruct a life size model of the 50 foot long extinct shark, Megalodon, aka Sharkzilla. (Videos will load automatically, just press play below).

“Sharkzilla” repeats at 6 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday on Discovery. For the complete schedule, check theDiscovery guide for shark week.

Shark Week – ‘Shark Infested Water’

“Shark infested water”.
When you stop to think about it, that is an amusing concept since, as pointed out in this article on the origin of Jaws, the water is where sharks live.  It is their home, and it would be more valid to say ‘boat infested’ or ‘net infested’, and if the sharks were capable of such thoughts, they might think of the surf zones as being so ‘infested’ with humans that it is hard for them to distinguish us from their normal prey.
And the press doesn’t help much – notice the two versions of this story: in the first it really looks like there are sharks all around this man who endured 20 hours floating in the ocean off of Australia, the second video shows that there was one ‘massive’ hammerhead cirling 20 yards away.

So what are the mysterious grey shapes in the water? They could be small sharks or other fish curious about a naked human floating around in their habitat, we really can’t tell – but the point is that the rescue was sensationalized. The rescued man was probably more at risk of dying of exhaustion than he was of being attacked by the shark, great hammerhead sharks prefer to eat fish and other sharks. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History (an excellent source of balanced information on sharks and shark attacks), there have only been two reported cases of deaths caused by sharks in this genus.

Great hammerheads are active predators, preying upon a wide variety of marine organisms, from invertebrates to bony fishes and sharks. A favorite prey item is the stingray, which is consumed along with the tail spine! Invertebrate prey include crabs, squid, octopus, and lobsters while commonly consumed bony fish are groupers, catfishes, jacks, grunts, and flatfishes. Great hammerheads have also been reported as cannibalistic, eating individuals of their own species. It feeds primarily at dusk along the seafloor as well as near the surface using its complex electro-sensory system to located prey.

The real story here should be that the man managed to survive in the water for so long without being attacked – unprovoked shark attacks do happen, but not often (around 70 per year), while humans kill millions of sharks annually.