Orca Whales May Lose Endangered Species Status – NOAA Accepted Petition to De-list This Struggling Population

Update 12/7/12: Orca Network’s Howard Garrett fully addresses this subject in the following post that follows this one, Southern Resident Orcas are Targeted by Those Who Want to Demolish the Endangered Species Act Entirely – Orca Network Weighs in on This Issue
Update 11/30/12:  Please sign the Change.org petition against de-listing the orcas here: NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service: Deny the petition to remove orcas from the endangered Species List.

Southern Resident orca population may lose their endangered species status. (Center for Whale Research).

From NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):
“Killer Whale Petition: Today we announced that we accepted a petition to delist Southern Resident killer whales, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. We’ll begin a review to determine the population’s ESA status, and are soliciting scientific and commercial information about these whales to ensure that the status review is comprehensive. The petition presents new information from scientific journal articles about killer whale genetics, addressing issues such as how closely related this small population is to other populations, and meets NOAA Fisheries’ standard for accepting a petition to review. Acceptance of this petition doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.
We’ll consider and address all substantive information on it received by Jan. 28, 2013.

See our website at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/ESA-Status/delist.cfm for details.”

The petition was filed on behalf of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific rigor in environmental regulations.
Also represented are two farms in California’s San Joaquin Valley, whose access to water for agriculture is threatened by the unjustified ESA listing of the Orca. This is because water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are threatened as a result of an ESA biological opinion that was issued for the Orca along with several species of fish, including salmon and steelhead, that are part of the Orca’s food supply and that are found in the Delta.
The bottom line is that developers, farmers, and commercial fisheries feel that their rights should supersede the welfare of a fragile population of orcas – and it is unfathomable that NOAA is actually taking the petition seriously.

I am on vacation and can’t give this topic the depth of coverage that it deserves, so will let you know when my colleagues have tackled the subject.  In the meanwhile, please take the time to read the petition!

Curious Orca Whales Frighten Diver, Follow Swimming Dog (Video)

Most likely neither the diver nor the dog were in danger from these killer whales because orcas are unknown to have ever intentionally harmed a human in the wild, nor attacked dogs either as far as I am aware – and these were most likely the fish eating type that specializes in hunting rays in the shallows around this part of New Zealand. Orcas pretty much stick to their accustomed menus, and human or dog are not on it; they just may be as curious about us as we are about them.
Orca biologist Dr. Ingrid Visser knows the area orcas well, and has been diving with the orcas for years. She is dedicated to preserving the wild orca population, and is quick to contrast the contentment experienced by wild orcas with the thoughtless harm of captivity. (See Voice of the Orcas for more information by Dr. Visser).

Endangered Orca “Lolita” Treated Like a Circus Clown by Miami Seaquarium – Embarrassing Photo

For once, words almost escape me – the Miami Seaquarium is clearly stuck in the fifties, and shows an appalling disregard for the values of our modern culture. This routine is akin to chaining up a bald eagle, dressing it in red, white, and blue and teaching it to beg – below even the Miami Seaquarium’s already low standards. This member of the endangered Southern Resident orcas deserves a dignified retirement in her home waters.

Illegally kept endangered orca "Lolita" treated as a circus animal.

Lolita is a solitary orca who has been confined to a tiny concrete tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides members of the wild Southern Resident orca population and other endangered animals with a host of protections, including protection against being harmed or harassed. Yet, despite being a member of the Southern Residents, Lolita has been denied all of these protections without any explanation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Sign ALDF’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging them to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in ESA protections.

This is how the rest of Lolita's family lives. (Center for Whale Research photo)

Climate Change, You, and a Little Math – 350.org Has a Solution That is Easy to Understand

The double punch that New York and New Jersey have endured first with Hurricane Sandy, and now with a nor’easter snow storm that is chilling people in their unheated homes underscores our dependence upon energy. Light switches and thermostats fail to respond, cars are useless without gas, we can’t keep milk fresh.  We are completely dependent upon energy but using it contributes to global warming and eventually triggers more of the storms that knock us out. It sounds like a double bind – we need energy, but if we use too much it will destroy us.
But this is where the number 350 enters the equation and some simple math shows the way to a solution; 350 parts per million is the upper limit of carbon dioxide that scientists say the atmosphere can contain without increasing global warming.  The present number is 392, and a little bit of arithmetic shows that we need to bring down the carbon dioxide level by 42 parts per million.
As a comparison, if you had a heart attack or became diabetic and  had to lose 42 pounds to regain your health, you would cut back on what you consumed and increase your fitness.  You would have a number to work with and could set a goal – and having a number to work towards turns frightening problems into challenges that can be met.

According to 350.org, the logical solution is to prevent powerful corporations from being able to make money by controlling the development of alternative energy sources – those companies have a huge financial stake in continuing to pump out fossilized carbon in the form of fuels.  Oil companies are not concerned about the long term viability of life on the planet, they are concerned about lining their pockets, and 350.org has scheduled a nationwide series of interactive events to share alternatives and empower change.

On November 7th, we’re hitting the road to jumpstart the next phase of the climate movement.
It’s simple math: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.
This November, Bill McKibben and 350.org are hitting the road to build the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis. Join us

This won’t be your typical lecture.
Each event will be a unique and interactive experience, unlike any talk you’ve been to before. It will pick up where Bill McKibben’s landmark Rolling Stone article left off — and everyone who comes will be asked to join a growing movement that is strong enough to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Together we’ll mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.
This won’t be easy: we’re up against the most profitable, powerful, and dangerous industry in history. But we have our own currency: creativity, courage and if needed, our bodies.

As he travels the country in a sustainable bus, Bill will be joined by a rotating cast of committed artists, actors, and musicians — each dedicated to spreading the message of the challenge before us. Every event will be a full evening of music, interactive video, and thought-provoking ideas. By the time you leave, you’ll be fired up and equipped with the tools, strategies, and resources you need to take on the fossil fuel industry.

Changing Presidents in a Crisis is Like Changing Horses Midstream, and We Will All Get Wet if We Make That Mistake (Video)

Crossing a stream on horseback is not always easy, and to transfer oneself from one horse to another during the process is inviting a ducking, if nothing worse. In the same way, if we think it necessary to make changes, we must choose the right moment to make them.
In 1864, at the height of the American Civil War, there were demands for a change in the presidency. The then president, Abraham Lincoln, replied to his critics:
‘I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded in this connection of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that it was not best to swap horses when crossing a stream’.(Proverb Hunter)

The Washington Post:

Obama has been aggressive about bolstering the federal government’s capability to respond to disasters, while his Republican challenger believes that states should be the primary responders in such situations and has suggested that disaster response could be privatized.

Sometimes *stuff* happens:

Other times we make really, really bad choices, causing pain to others and to ourselves:

Global warming is real, and we are running out of time to do anything about it. PLEASE MAKE THE SMART CHOICE.

Vote for the Environment,Your Future Depends Upon It – A Lesson From Hurricane Sandy

Please take a few minutes to view these videos, they will help clarify the importance of factoring in environmental issues in this election. A list of recommended candidates is below.

Candidates willing to face climate reality (League of Conservation Voters (LCV)):

Presidential Endorsement

Action Fund Senate Endorsements

Action Fund House Endorsements

Action Fund Gubernatorial Endorsements

Paid for by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, www.lcvactionfund.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.