Tag Archives: Japan

Children raise their voices and stand witness for dolphins in Japan

Photo courtesy of Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project
Photo courtesy of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

“The dolphins who had survived the ordeal were all young, comprised of babies and juveniles. They appeared lethargic and their breathing, uneven. Yet, they hovered close to the area where their family members were killed, refusing to leave. They took turns spyhopping as skiff after skiff of dead pod members passed them.” Cara Sands,  DolphinProject.net
Children question why people do the cruel, thoughtless, and destructive things people do…and grownups tell them that the problems are too big to solve, or that they will understand when they are older. But the kids aren’t buying that anymore – access to the internet has made them a bit savvy and world-wise, and what they don’t see at home they hear from their friends.
Then they take action in any way they can, and leave us inspired.

These annual Japan dolphin drives exist because of the small fortune the hunters make  by selling the dolphins to amusement parks and aquariums, and while the captive industry both denies past involvement and bemoans the annual butchery, they do little to stop it.
From BlueVoice.org:

Traveling into these villages where the dolphins are killed is always a heart-wrenching thing. But some good news came out of our trip — there is not the slightest doubt that the explosion of protest around the world against the brutality of dolphin hunting in Japan has had enormous impact on the Japanese government and the fishermen who conduct it. At both Futo and Taiji we were told the same thing — that foreign reaction is the main obstacle to the continued dolphin killing and that the fishermen fear the government will shut them down to avoid further international protest. We learned that the government suggested Futo suspend dolphin hunting operations until the public loses track of this issue. We will make sure this does not happen.
Again I stress, that from the fishermen’s own mouths we heard without any equivocation that foreign pressure may ultimately shut down the dolphin capture and slaughter operations.
The bad news is that at Taiji there is a firm intention to continue the catch of dolphins and small whales. At Futo there is some dissent among the fishermen as to whether to continue hunting dolphins, but there is a government quota for several species and the head of the fishing cooperative told us they expect to begin hunting again. We must be on hand with cameras.
Additional bad news is that the dolphin capture and export business in Japan has expanded into an assembly line process. There are two dolphin bases in Taiji and a new one at Iki. Dolphins are literally “packaged” for export – i.e. they are captured, trained and exported, accompanied by a trainer who introduces the dolphin into the new facility. A formidable dolphin packaging infrastructure has developed at Taiji, which contributes to the continuation of the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins in that village alone.

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While SeaWorld tries to hide their earlier participation in these drives, they and other facilities that profit from dolphin captivity have a duty to help put an end to the dolphin drives instead of circling the wagons in denial.
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“In addition to empathizing deeply with the suffering of the cetaceans, we also feel the reverberation through history…we know how humanity must look back on the endurance in this age of such cruel and needless practices…its stains all our humanity.” Leah Lemieux,  author of Rekindling the Waters.
What you can do: go to any of the organizations that are actively engaged in this issue and find ways to contribute your ideas, time, energy, and talents. Of course non-profits are always in need of financial donations too.
Find a variety of Tweets here:  https://sites.google.com/site/londontaijidemo18dec

#Tweet4Dolphins  #1Voice4Dolphins
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/145245015831005/
“London is key, the pressure in London is working” – Richard O Barry has said. It is at tipping point and so now the pressure needs to be higher than ever. Ask your friends in London to share and tweet this event.
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Risso’s Dolphins – The Gray “Blackfish” Who Are Killed by Ignorance for Greed

Risso's dolphin with Milton Santini, who caught the dolphins used in Flipper.
Risso’s dolphin with Milton Santini (right), who caught the dolphins used in Flipper.

 
Risso's dolphins are closely related to pilot whales and other "blackfish".
Risso’s dolphins are closely related to pilot whales and other “blackfish”.

Like orcas and other blackfish species, Risso’s dolphins are hunted for captivity and out of fear. Just as killer whales were shot by fishermen for taking a few salmon from their nets, Risso’s dolphins (closely related to pilot whales) are destroyed annually in large part because they are mistakenly seen as competitors for dwindling squid supplies in Japan.
Cute is about the best word to describe the appearance of these dolphins – their heavily scarred skin was historically thought to be the result of clashes with pod mates, but now more consideration is given to the fact that the scarring is also to battles with squid, such as the fearsome Humboldt squid.
Journalist Tim Zimmermann’s description of these large predatory squid is frightening, and it is easy to see how these squids would leave their mark on the dolphins:

Squid beak. (Biolab)
Squid beak. (Biolab)

…a powerful, outsize squid that features eight snakelike arms lined with suckers full of nasty little teeth, a razor-sharp beak that can rapidly rip flesh into bite-size chunks, and an unrelenting hunger. It’s called the Humboldt, or jumbo, squid, and it’s not the sort of calamari you’re used to forking off your dinner plate. This squid grows to seven feet or more and perhaps a couple hundred pounds. It has a rep as the outlaw biker of the marine world: intelligent and opportunistic, a stone-cold cannibal willing to attack divers with a seemingly deliberate hostility.
…”They have huge brains for their body size, much larger than most invertebrates,” says [biology professor at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station William Gilly]. “They might be as smart as a dog.”

 

Take away the top predators – Risso’s dolphins among them – and the ruthless, cooperative, intelligent invertebrates are likely to fill the niche once occupied by marine mammals, possibly decimating fish (and small dolphin) populations. In place of friendly dolphins eager to share the waves, our oceans would be filled with a species that would just as soon kill us, instead of saving us as dolphins are known to do.
One famous Risso’s dolphin, named Pelorus Jack, even guided ships through treacherous waters for 20 years.

Yet these dolphins are ruthlessly hunted by Japanese fishermen – not for their meat – but because the fishermen have gotten a wrong idea stuck in their heads. They see the dolphins and whales as competitors for fish and small squid.
From Save Japan Dolphins:

During a meeting with the Taiji fishermen in January 2004, the fishermen told us that they do not only hunt dolphins for their meat or for sale to the dolphinarium industry. In their own words, they kill the dolphins “as a form of pest control.”
The dolphins, from the fishermen’s perspective, eat too much fish, and the fishermen are simply killing the competition. This is the first time ever that Japanese dolphin hunters have openly admitted to executing pest control on dolphins. Over-fishing of the oceans is a tremendous problem on a global level, and the Japanese fishermen, supported by their government, are wrongly pointing at the dolphins as the reason for this depletion. The Japanese government is making the same false argument in front of the International Whaling Commission that whales eat fish and therefore need to be controlled by killing.
The desire to keep the dolphin population down is a major reason why the Japanese government is so keen on issuing permits for the hunts. It is not really about providing meat for the Japanese people. It is not really about maintaining what the fishermen repeatedly refer to as their “tradition” or “culture.”
It is about eradicating as many dolphins as possible in order to make the oceans’ fish available to themselves.  We know of several areas in Japan where local dolphin populations have declined or been eradicated by this mentality, fully supported by the Japanese government.

 

The majority of the adults are killed, and the babies are released to the wild where they are unlikely to survive.  This is done so that the babies don't count against the permitted number of kills. (Photo from Planet Whale).
The majority of the adults are killed, and the babies are released to the wild where they are unlikely to survive. This is done so that the babies don’t count against the permitted number of kills. (Photo from Planet Whale).

Researchers have conclusively proven that whales and dolphins are of little direct competition for fish and marketable squid – it turns out that the biggest competitor in those areas are large fish. (Competition Between Fisheries and Marine Mammals for Prey and Primary Production in the Pacific Ocean). Where humans and dolphins do compete is at the trophic level.  In other words, commercially viable fish just happen to thrive in a different branch of the same food web.
Dolphins don't directly compete for fish and squid after all. http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~consort/2006/ecosystem_change.php
Dolphins don’t directly compete for fish and squid after all. http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~consort/2006/ecosystem_change.php

The slaughter of thousands dolphins in the hands of a few Taiji, Japan fishermen each year is brutal (for more on the Japan dolphin drives I highly recommend this informative article  by Elizabeth Batt, and also the Save Japan Dolphins website), as told in this eyewitness account:

By Cynthia Fernandez Cove Monitor Save Japan Dolphins Earth Island Institute
One Risso’s, in particular, had such a will to live!  Trying to escape the killers, it swam into the nets, the killers tried to untangle it, but it was fighting so hard for its right to live.  Finally, they tied its tail to the boat and pulled it towards the tarps.  As it was being pulled, it continued to fight so ferociously for survival, I could hear it’s body slamming into the boat, repeatedly.  A sound I will never forget.  I fought back my tears as I watched this beautiful animal struggle so hard to live.  Unfortunately, a dolphin is no match for these heartless killers.  As they pulled that dolphin under the tarps, the thrashing was louder and longer than I had ever heard.  I knew that dolphin was still fighting to live. 

Courtesy of Digital Journal.
Courtesy of Digital Journal.

Then, the silence came, and the Cove water began to turn a blood red.  I knew that brave dolphin had finally succumbed to these heartless, dolphin killers.  I could no longer hold back my tears.  I will never forget that courageous dolphin and all the other dolphins of Taiji. I watched as the bodies of the Risso’s were first loaded onto the skiffs then transferred to a banger boat for transport to the butcher house.  Once again, the killers sat on the tarps that covered the bodies so that the lifeless corpses could not be seen or photographed. Once again, beautiful Risso’s dolphins, which had just been swimming freely hours ago, had been reduced to limp, lifeless bodies by this handful of men.  Just another day in Taiji.

My training as a biologist makes it a struggle to express – without being anthropomorphic – what I felt once when I made eye contact with a wild Risso’s dolphin out in the open ocean. A gray and white head materialized on the face of an approaching swell, rising as our ship descended into a trough.  He hung there for a few seconds and gazed into my eyes. apparently curious, before turning and disappearing again into the choppy water.
When he left, the ocean once again seemed a vast and lonely void, peopled only by marching swells.
In the film The Whalewhich is about a young orca who befriended humans, people try to describe how it feels to make contact with an intelligent, albeit large, dolphin (orcas, or killer whales are actually just very large dolphins):
The Taiji fishermen claim that they have ancestral rights to kill the dolphins and whales, but the truth is that the annual dolphin slaughter didn’t really amount to much until around 1969, when simultaneously Japan’s fisheries began to collapse, and marine mammal amusement parks boomed (SeaWorld purchased false killer whales from Taiji at one point).
The sales of captured dolphins is lucrative, and unfortunately for the animals, they are relatively easy pickings for the hunters due to the location of Taiji.
An unfortunate convergence of bathymetry (ocean floor shape) and primitive thinking set the stage for the decimation of Risso’s dolphins in Taiji.  Ironically, this species is usually found off the continental shelf and where the bottom rises steeply towards the surface (Baumgarner et al). The problem for the Risso’s dolphins is that the continental shelf is very narrow along Japan, and worse the convergence of underwater features off the coast of Taiji act as an underwater gateway.

Taiji is located in the region of the reddish dot. Notice how the there is a second steep underwater rise.
Taiji is located in the region of the reddish dot. Notice how the there is a second steep underwater rise.

The few Risso’s dolphins that are deemed “unblemished” enough (not much chance with this species) are taken into captivity and used for entertainment.
It is a sad end for the dolphins, no matter what, and ultimately sad for Japan as they continue to take more from the ocean than can be sustained, and wage war on the species that might be able to protect the viability of their ocean environment. Scientists recently reported that whales play a key role in maintaining healthy fish stocks, and the evidence is mounting that dolphins share that crucial role. Going into the future, the countries that have healthy fisheries will be countries that have healthy dolphin and whale populations, there is no question.
Perhaps saddest of all is that this is not reflective of the majority of the people of Japan, who are largely unaware that these drives take place, and who are beginning to phase out of the consumption of whale and dolphin meat. Cultural change is happening, and hopefully at a swift enough pace to stop the senseless slaughter of the harmless dolphins who pass their shores.
Risso's dolphin in a Japan theme park (OpenCage photo).
Risso’s dolphin in a Japan theme park (OpenCage photo).

U.S. Certifies to Obama That Icelandic Whaling Undermines CITES and Whale Population Recovery

There are several petitions circulating on this cause.
Press Release
Interior Certifies that Iceland’s Commercial Whaling Undermines International Wildlife Conservation Treaty
February 6, 2014
Contacts:
Claire Cassel
703-358-2357
Claire_Cassel@fws.gov
Minke-Whale-With-Calf-SlaughteredWASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. As provided under the Pelly Amendment, within 60 days following certification by the Secretary the President will determine what actions are appropriate in response to the certification.
“Just 25 years ago, commercial whaling had nearly driven whales to extinction, but thanks to a global effort to conserve whale stocks and end over-harvesting, several whale species have begun to recover,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine these worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”

The Havlur whaling company also created whale beer.
The Hvalur whaling company also created controversial whale beer.

Hvalur, the sole Icelandic company engaged in harvesting fin whales, resumed fin whale hunting in 2013, following a two-year hiatus due to market decline in Japan following the 2011 earthquake. The 2013 whaling season ran from mid-June until the end of September with a total of 134 fin whales killed. Iceland sets its own catch quotas for commercial whaling and has significantly increased those quotas over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the annual quota was set at just nine fin whales, while the 2013 annual quota authorized the hunting of up to 184 fin whales.
Iceland has recently announced a new five-year quota for fin whales, to begin with the 2014 whaling season, which will allow a total of up to 770 fin whales to be hunted in the next five years. Fin whales are hunted solely for export to the Japanese market.
From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.
Iceland also does not follow the procedure laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to assess sustainable catch levels. The IWC was established to manage whaling activities for the conservation of whale populations and is viewed as the global body with expertise for the management of whale stocks.
In July 2011, then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified under Pelly that the commercial whaling activities by Icelandic nationals are undermining the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program. In response to that certification, the President directed federal agencies to undertake a number of diplomatic actions to encourage Iceland to change its whaling policy.
Photo by e-activist.com
Photo by e-activist.com

CITES is an international agreement signed by 179 nations that is designed to control and regulate international trade in certain listed animal and plant species. Approximately 35,000 species currently benefit from CITES protection. For additional information on CITES, please refer tohttp://www.fws.gov/international/cites/how-cites-works.html.
For additional information on the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, please refer to http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/pelly-amendment.htm

Peace Doves Attacked by Birds in Rome – The End of Days, or Nature?

 

Doves released as peace gesture were quickly attacked by a crow and a seagull.
Doves released as peace gesture were quickly attacked by a crow and a gull.

The archetypal image could have come right out of the pages of a Harry Potter novel, resembling a classic battle of good versus not-so-good –  the white doves which were released at the Vatican as a gesture of hope towards peace in the Ukraine were quickly attacked by a hooded crow and a gull. The doves appear to have survived the attacks, but nonetheless the superstitious beliefs emerged over the internet in chat rooms and comments, fearing this event as a sign of the ‘End of Days’.
But crows  and gulls are opportunistic predators and no doubt are accustomed to finding easy meals from the lunches of the thousands of tourists who flock to visit the Vatican. They just happened to be there at the wrong time looking for a snack – to them the doves may have seemed just another tasty morsel thrown from the window.
Peace dove attacked by hooded crow (Daily Mail).
Peace dove attacked by hooded crow (Photo by Gregorio Borgia).

The strikingly white doves have been carefully bred for centuries – we are fascinated by the appearance of these  animals who lack the normal pigment of their species.  Their brilliant white color stands out and seems to command our attention, causing us to wonder about their origin and chances of survival in the natural world, and to marvel at what we are taught to believe about them.
In the case of wild animals, all too often that sense of wonder is soon replaced by a desire to capture these rare individuals for display, or to kill them for their hides. In other instances these unexpected white animals stir a deep and primal need to restore our inner equilibrium and often become symbolic in cultural beliefs.
white buffalo calfwoman
“Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people bringing forth the sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.” Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota Tribe.

According to legend, the White Buffalo Calf Woman was a holy entity that visited the Oceti Sakowin [Sioux]  over a four-day period.  She taught them sacred ceremonies, songs, and dances.  She gifted the people with a sacred bundle containing the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, which still exists to this day and is kept by Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.  Upon appearing and leaving, the White Buffalo Calf Woman changed into a white buffalo calf, then changed in color from white to black, to yellow, and finally, red.  Prophetically, it is said that the White Buffalo Calf Woman will return at the end of an age, and she will appear as a white buffalo calf. (Native Times).

The images of white animals and the  ideas that they represent do seem to have a primal impact on us, but the question is, what do we do with our beliefs – do we obey our gut reaction to capture or kill the unusual white animals or do we choose to let them live free and wild, taking whatever message that we will just from having seen them?
whitewhale russianorca.org albino
 
There are several biological mechanisms which can cause a loss of pigment.  A true albino loses all pigment (including the eye color) while  mutations or defects can cause partial or complete color loss, and the animal usually retains eye pigment in the latter cases. The orca above appears to have lost just some of his pigment, while the dolphin calf below appears to be a true albino.

Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.
Rare albino is was taken for display.

This albino dolphin calf was recently captured in the brutal dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan. Separated from her mother and the rest of her family she faces a tough adjustment to life in captivity, as there can be physiological complications that arise with albinos. Her mother was either released back into the wild, or more likely slaughtered in another classic parable – that of killing the golden goose – for she might have carried recessive genes that could have produced young who in turn may have carried the gene for albinism which appears to have been a high revenue capture.
Saving the mother dolphin along with the calf would also have helped the calf survive the trials of captivity – but then again the whole strategy behind the dolphin drives shows stupidity at every level…having over-fished their environment these fishermen see the dolphins as competitors for the dwindling fish stocks, and they also consume the meat from the dolphins which is known to be contaminated with heavy metals.
There is a correlation of heavy metals with increased albinism in fish:
Photo by Amber Young.
Taken for captive display, the fish soon died. Photo by Amber Young.

Heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Se, Zn) were shown to increase the incidence of albinism during 5 years of experiments with channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Metal-induced albinism resulted from exposure of both adult fish and eggs. In egg bioassays, exposed populations consistently exhibited higher percentages (up to 6.3%) of albinos than did controls, but frequencies did not vary significantly for the six metals or for exposure concentrations which ranged from 0.5 to 250 µg/1.
Metal contamination in a hatchery water supply yielded frequencies of albinos corresponding directly with those observed for metal-exposed laboratory populations. Inasmuch as albinism has proved deleterious to fish survival and production, caution is recommended in using metallic compounds in hatchery management. Tests for albinism may prove useful in screening aquatic contaminants for mutagenic potential.

ajun0807ravens061albino dreaming wizard
Science and mythology may intersect when it comes to the symbolism of albinos; the Sioux prophecy of the white buffalo tells that white animals will appear in a time of change, signalling a need for humanity to unite – and ironically, as we inch towards irreversible climate change our careless treatment of the environment may result in an increased incidence of albinism, but certainly does call for a need to unite across cultures.
flat,550x550,075,f.u1 migaloo jenny dean albino

 Photo from George Dvorsky.

A final cautionary tale about our tendency to project concepts onto wildlife: Ahab in Moby Dick lost sight of reason in his obsession to destroy a white whale, determined to dominate the forces of nature.  We now know what a perilous undertaking that has been as we face ecological problems on a global scale, and hopefully have learned to balance the comfort of superstition with perspective. If the crow attack symbolizes the ‘End of Days’, it is only what we read into nature, combined with our efforts to try to manipulate and control natural forces.

To some, the White Whale is a myth. To others, he is immortal. But one significant question is, What is the White Whale to Ahab? Ishmael grants that Ahab views the whale as an embodiment of evil. Ishmael himself is not so sure. The narrator often sees both sides of a question, never more so than in Chapter 42, “The Whiteness of the Whale.” There he tells us that Moby Dick’s whiteness might represent good or evil, glory or damnation, all colors or the “visible absence of color.”
For Ahab’s interpretation, it is helpful to consider the captain’s comments in the pivotal Chapter 36. There, the captain says he sees Moby Dick as a “mask,” behind which lies a great power whose dominance Ahab refuses to accept. Ahab sees that inscrutable power as evil.
Some scholars argue that it is not the whale, or the force behind the whale, that is evil; the evil is in Ahab. Others see the captain as simply insane. Ahab is out of control as he rants about attacking the force behind the façade of Moby Dick. He wants to kill the whale in order to reach that force. Ahab seems to want to be a god. As great and charismatic a man as he can be in his finest moments, the captain is destructively egocentric and mad for power. To Ahab, we might conclude, the White Whale represents that power which limits and controls man. Ahab sees it as evil incarnate. But perhaps it is just a big, smart [whale]. Cliffnotes.

 

SeaWorld, Sea Life Park, and Dolphin Quest Are Linked to Dolphin Massacre

Update January 20th, 2014 7 pm EST. The dolphins who were not chosen for captivity are now being slaughtered as the world watches. Please continue to voice your outrage, and consider boycotting the summer Olympics taking place in Japan in 2016.
If I had to pick just one aspect of the Japan dolphin drives that encapsulates all that is wrong with the annual dolphin slaughter, it would not be the fact that it is a function of greed.
Nor would it be the fact that the dolphins are normally just migrating through the area, by no stretch of the imagination are these “Japanese dolphins”. Sadly, the dolphins killed in Taiji may be the same ones that winter along the beaches of other countries where their presence would have been welcome.
It wouldn’t be the fact that the fishermen have the arcane idea that dolphins and whales are competitors for a dwindling fish supply either that is the most abhorrent. And no, not the obvious joy shown by the ignorant fishermen in upsetting the rest of the world.

And dolphins still don't harm humans...
And dolphins still don’t harm humans…

No, the one thing that takes this slaughter to heartbreak level is that the brutal fishermen, in their cowardice, have chosen a species that never attacks back, allowing the hunters to safely enter the water, their killing knives and skewing implements wielding destruction unopposed.
They don’t do this with sharks. Or rays, swordfish, or barracuda. But these fishermen of Taiji callously swim and wade out with the dolphins knowing that the dolphins won’t harm them, maiming and torturing the one species that is known to save humans in need.
Due to bad press, the dolphins now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn't work, often resulting in a prolonged death.
Due to bad press, the fishermen now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn’t work, often resulting in a prolonged death.

A few short days ago, the little white dolphin who activists have named ‘Angel’ was swimming free with her mother and extended pod. Today she is in a tank with a few other calves, their mothers left behind to face the possibility of slaughter unless the Japanese government steps in and puts an end to this barbaric practice.

Is there hope for these dolphins? Yes, given enough public pressure, and if the amusement parks would own up to their complicity in the carnage. The video below explains how these captures are driven by people who make a fortune from it.
SeaWorld claims that it no longer supports the drive fishery, but does nothing to intercede. Sea Life Park in Hawaii still has the whale/dolphin offspring of a false killer whale who came from the Japan captures. Dolphin Quest has two swim-with-dolphin facilities in Hawaii, both built with money from ‘blood dolphins’ caught in Japan.
Please watch this video, you can skip the first minute or two if it is hard to stomach, and still learn how the dolphin slaughter is driven by industry. The people of Japan have been unaware of the situation, but are beginning to protest, bringing hope that this will soon be stopped. Please see this website to learn why these hunts not reflective of the Japanese country as a whole, but instead is reflective of a heartless few.

RIC O’BARRY’S DOLPHIN PROJECT has prepared this list of resources for you to contact and have your voice heard, together we can end this:

The hunts for dolphins in Taiji must be stopped, and the captivity industry should be in the forefront of efforts to stop the hunts.  Instead, the captivity industry is subsidizing the hunts by paying top dollar for captive dolphins like Angel, while the mother is carted off to the abattoir.  They should be ashamed of themselves.
Please help in any way you can!  We need your continuing help to end the Taiji dolphin hunts.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Contact these leaders and ask them to release the dolphins in Taiji and Angel with his mother:
The Hon. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan
https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html
https://www.facebook.com/abeshinzo
https://twitter.com/AbeShinzo
Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Embassy of Japan in the United States
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202-238-6700, Fax: 202-328-2187
Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
http://www.waza.org/en/site/contact-us-1257966668
WAZA Executive Office
IUCN Conservation Centre
Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland
Switzerland

250 Dolphins Face Slaughter in Japan Today, Including a Rare Albino – You Can Help!

Update January 20th, 2014 7 pm EST. The dolphins who were not chosen for captivity are now being slaughtered as the world watches. 
I am shocked and horrified by this, it is extreme even for the brutal Japanese fishermen in Taiji. The sorting and slaughter is set to start at 1 pm Pacific Standard Time, and will be live streamed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Here is a list of Japanese Embassies if you would like to express your opinion:  http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/japan#855. More information on the Japanese slaughter can be found at Save Japan Dolphins. (Please see video below).

Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.
Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.

Sea Shepherd News – Five separate pods of Bottlenose dolphins were driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove yesterday and held overnight. This now massive pod of more than 250 dolphins includes babies and juveniles, including a rare albino calf who has been clinging as closely as possible to his or her mother in the stress and panic of the drive hunt.  If not killed, the albino will most certainly be taken as a novelty for Taiji’s local marine park attractions. In some cultures, it is taboo to capture or otherwise harm albino animals, as they are considered “spirit” animals and hunting them is thought to be bad luck.
Today, the members of the pod will face a violent and stressful captive selection process. Babies and mothers will be torn from each other’s sides as some are taken for captivity, some are killed, and others are driven back out to sea to fend for themselves. Taiji dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to choose those deemed suitable for captivity – the “prettiest” dolphins without visible nicks or scars. Those taken captive are forced to watch as the remaining members of their family are brutally killed for human consumption. The dolphin meat is sold by the Taiji Fishermen’s Union despite the fact that it contains high levels of mercury and other harmful toxins. We anticipate going online from the Cove with our live stream today at ~ 1 pm PT as the captive selection and slaughter begin. Please spread the world by sharing our URL widely:  http://livestream.seashepherd.org.

Fukushima Meltdown Has Not Polluted the Entire Pacific, No Need to Panic!

Ocean circulation doesn't work this way.
Ocean circulation doesn’t work this way.

From NOAA:

This image was created by NOAA’s Center for Tsunami Research and graphically shows maximum wave heights (in centimeters or cm) of the tsunami generated by the Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011. It does NOT represent levels of radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. For more information please visit the original image and background information at http://nctr.pmel.noaa.gov/honshu20110311.
Download here (Credit: NOAA)

This map of wave heights is circulating all over the internet along with panic and a sprinkling of facts (I added the text over this map, hoping that this version will help combat the fear mongering). But the reality is, even if there were radiation of this magnitude crossing the ocean, the map wouldn’t look anything like that – the ocean circulation is way more complex with masses of water spinning, sinking, stalled, or streaming like a river. Sometimes the ocean mixes up, and sometimes it doesn’t, with layers sitting on top of each other. Fresh water from rivers can go way out to sea, and wedges of salt water can travel up river.
The map below is also often misinterpreted – it is a projection of how the debris from the tsunami is expected to travel, assuming it stays in the main ocean surface currents – notice how it travels clockwise from the red, then back towards Asia (violet). If massive amounts of radiation were released into the surface and it floated along like old furniture etc,(which it doesn’t) this is the path it would be expected to take, not the plume pictured in the top map.  But radioactive particles behave differently depending on what they are. And for the most part the debris is not expected to be contaminated.

map_slideshow-450x256 debris

Does that mean we are all safe and can continue to live as though it is safe to eat anything in the ocean? Absolutely not, we have been dumping radiation into the environment for decades. Many species of fish travel this circle of ocean currents too, and will pick up increasing contamination with every swim by Japan. Little creatures that live in the ocean bottom near the reactor will stir up the sand and mud, and release some of the particles that are the worst, releasing those radioactive particles into the water and absorbing them at ever-increasing rates. Big fish eat little fish, and the problem escalates right up the food chain.
And for anyone who thinks it is a good idea to eat marine mammals of any kind, guess again – as top-level predators they will get the worst doses.
One more thing, it pays to check facts and listen to the authorities on this – in spite of political pressure, graft, influence peddling etc they are all we have to rely upon. If you are still worried, then make the decision not to eat sea food, or limit your intake.
 

Norway is Killing More Whales Than It Can Use, Illegally Shipping Surplus to Japan

This seems to be the same tired story: old, narrow-minded and backwards beliefs causing people to behave badly.
Unfortunately people invest themselves in lifestyles that can only be sustained by destruction – and then argue that they have a right to keep doing it because it is their livelihood. Commercial fishery is a prime example – take too many fish you will soon pull up empty nets.
When resources collapse the blame games begin, and Norwegian (and Japanese) officials have got it in their collective noggins that the whales are responsible for depleted fish stocks. Solution? Kill the whales, even though this is contrary to the International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling. Then pretend that you are doing it for science, for food, or because your ancestors did it. {Note, some baleen whales do eat fish as part of their diet}.

But apparently Norwegians can only consume part of their whale catch, so they are shipping the surplus to Japan – in their press release, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) writes:

A bill of lading obtained by AWI shows that a shipment of 4,250 kg of frozen whale products from the Norwegian company, Myklebust Trading, left Ålesund, Norway, in mid-February, 2013, and is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on April 12. Paperwork identifies the recipient as a Japanese company, Toshi International.
International commercial trade in whale products is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Norway—unlike Iceland—has not successfully exported whale meat commercially since the 1980s, although attempts have been made. Most recently, a 2008 shipment of five metric tons of minke whale meat from Myklebust Trading, was rejected by the Japanese government due to contamination concerns.
AWI Executive Director Susan Millward called on the U.S. and other governments “to act decisively to convince Japan to reject Norway’s recent shipment of whale products.”

Minke whale (by Vania Kam on Flickr)

In the U.S. waters where whales are afforded complete protection, fish stocks are coming back when human impact is moderated (U.S Fish Stocks Rebound From Depletion). The whales are in balance with the plankton and fish in the ocean – even though they consume vast quantities, the great whales in particular tend to migrate long distances, and undergo fasts during parts of the year that can go on for months at a time, giving the food webs an opportunity to rebuild.
Norway, Japan, and Iceland take turns killing the whales and shipping the meat to each other in a shell game, and still their fish stocks continue to dwindle (read the AWI report here). Those countries have an attitude that they can continue in the old ways – even though those old ways got the ocean into the situation it is today – and they just look foolish to the rest of the world.

The Mayans Got it Right – the World is Quickly Changing

Caption: On October 22, 1967, Bernie Boston photographed his iconic Flower Power photograph, which featured Vietnam War protester George Harris inserting flowers into a National Guardsmen’s rifle barrel.(From the Frankly Penn blog)

Comparing the 20th century to now there are many hopeful signs. Look at the way people view war. These days many people challenge the need for it, they question why we have to resort to it. In the early twentieth century there was no talk about protecting the environment, yet now everyone is aware of it. Our perceptions are coming closer to reality; humanity is becoming more mature and I am optimistic about the future. Dalai Lama

In terms of protecting the environment, humanity is beginning to understand that the problems of this fragile planet concern us all, whether the issues occur in the jungles of South America or in the remote polar regions – deadly chemicals eventually circulate the globe. The murder and mayhem of war destroys everything in its path, including the environment – and to what end?
There have always been individuals and groups who stood firmly for the values of peace and environmental awareness, but until the current generation came along they have often been relegated to the fringes of society. The difference now is the networking made possible by the internet, and the ease with which young people adapt it to communicate the realities of violence to the rest of the world.
The once lone voices in the wilderness now have the powerful, energetic, and determined force of global tides to support them, but although it can be hip and fun, make no mistake, it still takes courage and resources to protect what we have left.

What the Mayan prophecy and threat of Doomsday has done is that worldwide, people took time to think about what is important – the question of ‘what would you take if your house was burning’ was transmuted into ‘what would do if the world ended’, and if nothing else, it made us all realize that the possibility of Doomsday is in our hands.

Man Against Dolphin – a Search for Understanding the Conundrum That is Japan

Right now the annual bloodbath of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan is ongoing.  During this archaic process dolphins and small whales are driven into a cove where some are destined to be sold to amusement parks while the rest are cruelly slaughtered en masse nearby, the screeching screams of their pod mates audible to all.  It is so senselessly cruel and unnecessary that it bewilders the more educated people everywhere – why does the government of Japan allow this to go on?  There is the usual claim of indigenous rights to eat the dolphins, yet they harvest more than the village can consume…and certainly there is nothing indigenous about selling dolphins to amusement parks.
The fallback position of the Japanese always comes down to their belief that the dolphins eat too many fish, hence as man’s competitors their numbers must be controlled…an almost bizarre demonstration of a lack of higher order thinking in which critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving seem to be completely lacking.  Very strange, considering how otherwise cultured, educated, and modern Japan is seen to be – and search for understanding this also involves understanding that people in varying cultures become entrenched in what allowed them to survive, and in counties like Japan these skills are passed from generation to generation, and their whole outlook on the world may be different than ours.

Lately the graphic images of blood filled water, massacred populations of dolphins, and assorted carcasses of marine mammals have dominated the cyber environment where my attention is normally focused, and it is so relentless and disturbing that I find myself disinclined to check Facebook for updates. Yet I realize that this barrage of unsettling information is a good sign because it means that public awareness of the senseless brutality of man towards ocean life is beginning to snowball as it becomes clear that the constant abuse of the marine environment has reached a tipping point. If we keep destroying the ocean we will destroy ourselves in the bargain – some of it due to greed as in our search for resources, some to fear of other nations as in our navies, but most egregious of all is the free rein given to a few senselessly cruel practices in many nations to kill the innocent, friendly, and benign dolphins and whales that have swum the oceans since before humans evolved.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to reason with people whose living involves the destruction of the environment, whether it is due to oil exploration, development, ranching, fishing, or industry. In every case a handful of powerful people try to run over the rights of the public – from ranchers who are trying to have the wild horses exterminated so that their cattle can run on public land to fishermen who believe that marine mammals should not be allowed to eat the ocean’s fish, these people fight tooth and nail continue their destructive ways of operating.
Yet if we truly seek to understand these cultures we may find more effective ways to bring awareness to them and stop the senseless destruction of the other intelligent beings that share our planet. Given that people have only relatively recently discovered the depth of intelligence and compassion possessed by dolphins and whales it is possible to understand that the barbaric cultures of the past did not know what they were killing.
But now we know better, and as it is often said, when we know better, we do better.