Scuba Diving Dog…and Cat – Is It Humane? (Video)

The first two things that pop into mind when you first learn about this underwater duo are doubtlessly how and why. And if you have a dog who doesn’t like to even get its ankles wet, or have the typical cat whose reaction to getting a bath will send you to the ER you may think this insane or cruel or both. But that is not necessarily true.
There are cats who love to swim (the Turkish Van breed is known for its love of water) and dogs who voluntarily swim underwater. Given the right combination of disposition, personality, and strong bond with their owner, the rare dog might not mind this too much. That cat, on the other hand, seems to react they way a kitten does when the mother cat carries it by the neck, in a form of tonic immobility as she is pushed around at depth.
In any case, the obvious bonds among the human, canine, and feline in this story indicate that there is no cruelty involved. Is it wise? See what you think:

Dogs that dive voluntarily:

SeaWorld Shows Contempt for Government Safety Protocols (Video)

BItPw3jCcAEv7_2 Lp orca socks
OSHA representative’s socks sported an orca – a reminder of the danger posed by these powerful animals? (Photo by Mike Deforrest,

The Ocean Advocate attended yesterday’s hearing in which SeaWorld continued its battle against OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) – SeaWorld wants to allow trainers to jeopardize their lives for entertainment, but the government finds the safety of human lives to be paramount.  The following is from the eyewitness coverage by Ocean Advocate, SeaWorld Full of Excuses and Contradictions at PMA Extension Hearing.
Published April 25, 2013

“SeaWorld and OSHA went at it again yesterday to decide if the Petition for Modification of Abatement Date (PMA) should be extended for a 6 month request.”
“OSHA insists that SeaWorld must prove that factors were beyond their control in order to extend the PMA. They said the PMA was denied because the employees are not protected.”

“SeaWorld maintains the stance that the current protocols of distance prevent the whales from grabbing or hitting the trainers allows trainers time to move away if a whale moves… They say trainers don’t have to approach a whale if they don’t want to “unless conditions are optimal”. Optimal is defined by the whale’s compliance during a line-up.”
“For now, SeaWorld was given two weeks to write the Limited Protective Order on the 26 protocols, then the post-hearing briefs will be due 30 days later. Although Judge Welsch requested that the case be handled expeditiously, SeaWorld, of course, didn’t feel the need. Go figure!”

News report of SeaWorld in violation of safety standards:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Dolphins and Humans Alike are Still Suffering; Skin Lesions, Shortened Lifespan are the BP Oil Spill Legacy

It might look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but this diver is one of the thousands of people who have participated in the Gulf oil spill disaster.  The irony is that even though somewhat protected by his gear, this individual faces a shortened lifespan due to exposure to the chemicals used to hide the extent of the spill from the public.  Environmental writer David Kirby has written a two part series that details how these chemicals continue to wreck havoc on the environment and human health, and is well worth reading because the impact from this disaster lurks at the shore, at random depths, and at the bottom of the Gulf.  From part one – Corexit’s Impact on Human Health:

Every three to four weeks, a cycle of horror repeats itself across [diver] Steve Kolian’s face. First it becomes itchy. Then the bumps appear. Then a raw, irritating redness sets in before the skin peels away in patches. Finally, it all disappears for a while.
Other parts of his body, however, seem to be in perpetual disrepair. Dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, bloody stools and cognitive issues surface intermittently, painful reminders of the toxic assault he and untold others endured following the April 2010 explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, bloody stools and cognitive issues surface intermittently, painful reminders of the toxic assault he and untold others endured following the April 2010 explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

It reminded me of Dante’s Inferno. The fumes were choking folks along the coast. Then you add the Corexit, and communities felt their lives became a laboratory, only they were the living experiment.
Kolian, 51, is convinced that his illnesses were triggered by a chemical product designed to disperse petroleum in water, a substance euphemistically marketed as “Corexit.” Now, three years after the disaster that left some 210 million gallons of Louisiana Crude and 1.8 million gallons of dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico, a growing body of evidence supports his contentions.

Kirby’s article discusses divers, fishermen and local residents with:

Bleeding from the eyes, breasts and anus
Memory loss
Cognitive disorders
Skin rashes
Kidney damage
Being “stuck stupid” when you temporarily can’t speak or move, but can still hear
Corexit aerosolized petroleum chemicals and sent a toxic mist 100 miles inland
ALL cleanup crews in Valdez, where Corexit was used, are now dead. Average age: 51

The second article by Kirby covers how the chemicals are working their way up the food chain to apex predators, and examines the long term effects on marine life. Part Two – Destruction of marine life.:

dolphinbabygulfofmexico oil


Didn't get the memo.
Didn’t get the memo.

Kirby writes:

In April 2012, Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences was finding lesions and grotesque deformities in sea life—including millions of shrimp with no eyes and crabs without eyes or claws—possibly linked to oil and dispersants.

Toxins at 3000 times the acceptable level in gulf seafood
Dead dolphins in record numbers, killed by weakened immune systems and brucella bacteria
Blue crab populations wiped out
Oyster beds not reproducing
60% of coral on platforms killed
Toxicity to rotifers, base of food chain, is 52 times higher with Corexit

Lolita, the Wild Southern Resident Killer Whale Living in Captivity May Receive Protected Status, Government Announces Today (4/24/13)

(Orca Network)
(Orca Network)

Today the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced that it will consider whether or not the captive orca Lolita (Tokitae) should be allowed the same protection as her wild family. Originally she was purposefully excluded from the protection of the endangered status that the rest of her family enjoys ( Captive L-pod Orca Is Caught In A Legal Quagmire). This decision is good news, and now once again it is time to correspond and sign petitions. The release from NMFS:

Petition To Include The Killer Whale Known As Lolita In The Endangered Species Act Listing Of Southern Resident Killer Whales

Apr. 24, 2013: We accepted a petition to include the captive killer whale known as Lolita in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of Southern Resident killer whales. We are soliciting scientific and commercial information about Lolita’s status to ensure that our ongoing status review is comprehensive. Acceptance of this petition doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome. The comment period closes Jun. 28, 2013. See the Federal Register notice and other materials below for more information; or contact Lynne Barre, 206-526-4745.
The Federal Register notice will publish on Monday, April 29, 2013 and at that time people can submit comments via   In the “Search” box, enter the docket number, “NOAA-NMFS-2013-0056” and click on the “Search” button.


Is SeaWorld Taking Its Circus to China?

Well, why not choose China – a country that has no respect for animal life – as the next venue for SeaWorld? It is a natural partnership between a corporation that makes its fortune by confining whales to small tanks and making them perform circus tricks, and a nation that loves to bake dogs alive and seals live turtles in plastic containers to make living key chains.
It is so beyond disgusting, yet is not at all surprising given SeaWorld’s history and complete disrespect for both the animals in their facilities as well as the human trainers who are required to put themselves in mortal danger in SeaWorld’s modern aquatic version of a gladiator show. It is distressing to think that this company, finding that American consumers no longer want to witness the suffering of animals for our entertainment, will take their show to an audience who shares their callousness instead of changing their failing business paradigm. And just look at how much the Chinese find this entertaining anyway (notice the empty bleachers – perhaps SeaWorld hopes for a more vigorous attendance when trainers are put in danger with larger dolphins and whales? ).

But on the other hand, maybe that is just SeaWorld – they just don’t give human or animal welfare much thought. (Please check Voice of the Orcas for more information on killer whales and captivity).

Killer Whales Who Were Trapped by Ice – Power Companies May Be to Blame

March 25, 2013
“Wildlife entrapments and extensive freshwater in Hudson Bay correspond with cold winter conditions and record hydroelectricity demands in the south.”

“There’s a connection between the freshwater plumes sent into Hudson Bay from the Quebec power corporation’s huge dams and the quick freezing of water in the bay which led to entrapments of eiders, beluga and killer whales this past winter, suggests Joel Heath, a biologist whose film People of the Feather about Sanikiluaq hunters and eider ducks, received acclaim.
The connection is worth studying, he said, because although entrapments occur naturally, this past winter there were at least three occurrences in southern Hudson Bay.”.  (More).

orca2_copy trapped in ice

In January 2013, a family of orcas were discovered struggling to keep a breathing hole open, and although no one can say for sure it looks like the sea conditions changed overnight and the whales escaped.

“The mammals’ plight captivated the world after video taken by Inuit residents of the the Inukjuak community circulated on television and social media, showing the killer whales taking turns bobbing above the Bay’s icy waters.

“It’s amazing to see how they managed to find a strategy to share that little space and organize who’s going to breathe and when, because they all needed to breathe every five minutes and they found the strategy for the survival of the group and not the survival of the strongest.”
Thousands of supporters offered money and equipment to free the whales, and news of their escape Thursday – two days after they were spotted – spurred celebrations online.” (More).

Although there is no doubt that the fast pace of global warming in the Arctic is responsible for changing migratory patterns of both prey and predator, that is not the full story. As fast as the climate is changing, humans continue to alter the environment in a reckless thirst for energy in a time frame that makes adaptation impossible.  Overnight, an unseasonable flush of fresh water dilutes the surface water and allows salt intrusion up rivers – this is devastating to the environment on many levels, but for the large marine predators it is both bewildering and unpredictable.

“Within the past thirty-five years, Inuit hunters in Sanikiluaq have observed major changes in the regional sea ice environment. The Belcher Islands are located in southern Hudson Bay, near the mouth of James Bay. In the 1970s, the government of Québec began installing a series of hydroelectric dams on rivers in the James Bay watershed. Subsequent changes in water flow affected aquatic ecology, currents, and sea ice not only in James Bay, but also further north in Hudson Bay.

In the past, the ice conditions and the floe directions were more predictable, and traditional knowledge helped hunters navigate the sea ice to find food. Over the past few decades, however, the sea ice has become less stable and increasingly unpredictable, limiting where Sanikiluaq’s hunters can go and when they can travel. Changes in sea ice conditions has also made hunting more dangerous, and made it difficult for hunters and elders to discern which traditional knowledge is still safe and reliable to pass on to young hunters and community members.

beluga ice“Environmental changes are also affecting the quality of the animals hunters do find. In a 2006 interview, hunter Peter Kattuk said, “Beluga whales in springtime usually float when you kill them, not drown. Last year, there were more belugas that drowned.” Belugas usually have a thick layer of fat that makes them buoyant, making it easier for hunters to retrieve them from the water. The belugas Kattuk hunted that year were often lacking enough fat to float, meaning that they sunk and were lost to the hunters. He said, “They should have more fat because the ice is more open now for the last five years. But last spring they were more drowned. Maybe it is less food or something.”  (More).

beluga ice 2
 “One of the main problems with freshwater plumes occurring in mid-winter instead of spring is that freshwater freezes much quicker and at warmer temperatures than salt water, and so extensive areas can freeze up rapidly, entrapping wildlife. Freshwater ice has a different consistency and is less flexible than salt water ice, which can change the structure of sea ice habitats.”  (More)

orca ice 3
Bloody from battering to keep the breathing hole open.

orca ice 2
“The lessons you’ve learned, whether you’re wildlife or human, don’t apply. You’ve got a radically different, changing system. Those tools and experiences are actually not relevant anymore.”   Joel Heath

waters-edge_1786282i polar bear

The animals have it tough enough surviving in the face of climate change, but when the power companies hide behind the curtain of global warming while they destroy what little chance these iconic species have to survive it is disgraceful.

Thousands of Whales and Dolphins at Risk: Actor Ted Danson Petitions Government to Halt Deadly Seismic Testing in the Gulf

An easy thing to do for Earth Day 2013 – please sign Ted’s petition, and take a few minutes to see how this actor is using his resources to make a difference. Because this petition is directly to the White House, if enough signatures are collected in a 30 day period the government will have to give full consideration to the issues, and will have weigh whether or not industry should be allowed to deafen and destroy ocean life in its quest for oil.

Ted Danson
Ted Danson, actor

…and environmentalist.

“To most, Ted Danson is known for TV and movie acting roles, but for those in the conservation movement, he is much more famous for his work as a passionate ocean advocate and Oceana spokesman.”
The Petition:  “We petition the obama administration to:
Stop seismic airgun testing for oil and gas off the U.S. East Coast.
According to your Department of the Interior, seismic airgun testing for oil and gas in the Atlantic will injure or kill 138,500 dolphins and whales, including endangered North Atlantic right whales.
Seismic airguns and offshore drilling threaten commercial and recreational fisheries as well as ocean-based tourism and coastal recreation from Delaware to Florida. 730,000 jobs in this region depend on a healthy ocean. Seismic airgun testing is the first step toward expanding deepwater drilling, the same practice that caused the well-known Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.
Offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous, and seismic airguns are an insult to ocean economies and ecosystems. With respect, we call on your administration to reject seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic.”  PLEASE SIGN.

Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Our offices in North America, South America and Europe work together on a limited number of strategic, directed campaigns to achieve measurable outcomes that will help return our oceans to former levels of abundance. We believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions. Our scientists work closely with our teams of economists, lawyers and advocates to achieve tangible results for the oceans.”

Whales Turn the Tables and Gather to People-Watch

Curious and friendly dwarf minke whales meet curious and friendly humans in this annual meet n’ greet  – and in a remarkable turn around, it is the whales, not the humans, who more or less set the rules for how the interactions take place.  It started with a chance encounter between one man and one whale nearly thirty years ago, and now up to 50 whales come to people watch.

We believe in connecting people with nature in a profound and meaningful way.”

The following information is from the Eye to Eye Marine Encounters and Minke Whale Project websites:
John Rumney and his dedicated team of researchers and crew have been running swim with minke whale trips for 17 years and pioneered the swim with whale experience in Queensland. They were also instrumental in the development of guidelines that ensures all encounters are carried out on the whales’ terms and have now been adopted by industry as World’s Best Practice.

We want to give YOU the best wildlife experience possible in the hope that it will inspire you to protect our marine treasures. Our ethos and reputation has made us the first point of call for documentary film crews, universities and marine institutes around the world. We have been fortunate enough to introduce the beautiful minke whales to IMAX, Galatee (Oceans), National Geographic and the BBC and wish to continue sharing one of world’s most incredible wildlife experiences with others.”

dwarf minke ww“SCUBA versus snorkelling
Studies of in-water interactions with dwarf
minke whales have shown that in most
cases the whales make closer approaches
to snorkellers holding onto a rope at the
surface (Birtles et al., 2001; Valentine,
Birtles, Curnock, Arnold & Dunstan,
2004). By holding onto a rope at the
surface, swimmers maintain a relatively
fixed position and their movements
become more predictable. Snorkellers on
surface ropes are also much more easily
supervised and managed by crew than a
group of scuba divers (who are able to
move in three dimensions).
If both SCUBA divers and snorkellers are
in the water at the same time when whales
are around, scuba divers should stay well
clear of the area underneath the snorkellers
to avoid detracting from the snorkellers’


Whale Blubber Fed to Unsuspecting Travelers – Could Whale Meat Wind Up in Beef? Or in Horse Meat?

Smyril Line's high speed ferry Norröna travels between Iceland and Denmark
The Faroese Smyril Line’s high speed ferry Norröna travels between Iceland and Denmark

The European society for the protection of whales and dolphins, ProWal, issued a press release on the latest European meat scandal, when it was discovered that travelers were fed pilot whale blubber without being informed of what they were eating while on the ferry crossing between Denmark and Iceland :

Andreas Morlok, CEO of ProWal is disgusted: “The pilot whale blubber is not labeled as such in the restaurant of the ferry. The guest has no idea what exactly is being offered to him. the chef only gives information by word when asked, that the dish the guest is consuming is actually pilot whale blubber, which was proven to be such by a scientist from the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, missing is a warning at the display of the buffet that the pilot whale blubber is highly contaminated with environmental poisons as PCBs and methyl-mercury, which can be rather dangerous to human health.
Scientific studies prove that children from the Faroe Islands have high amounts of learning deficiencies and have as well disorders in the development of motor skills and the central nervous system. As an infant they already absorb these poisons through their mother’s milk, which is showing the highest toxic saturation worldwide. The percentage of people afflicted with the nervous disorder Parkinsons disease is double than that on the Danish mainland and the quality of male semen is also heavily affected by these toxins. Therefore, it is hardly astonishing that the World Health Organization (WHO) is urgently trying to dissuade people from the consume of whale products. In the EU these products are regarded as “hazardous material”.

Pilot Whale
Pilot Whale

The Faroe Islanders cling to the typical antiquated belief of other backwards whaling nations – that they have a right to brutally slaughter pilot whales because they have done it in the past. Theirs is a particularly cruel and unnecessary ritual, where boys at the age of 14 are encouraged to participate in the hacking to death of entire whale families – mothers, babies included.

No matter how they feel about whaling smart consumers want nothing to do with whale meat, but the Faroe Islanders who have contaminated their own bodies with an impressive array of toxins are now sneaking the meat into the European food chain.

The fact that they are feeding whale to tourists on the ferry makes you wonder where else that whale meat might turn up. What is to prevent the meat companies from adding the surplus whale meat into beef products? After all,  Horse meat was recently found in chicken nuggets as well as in sausage, hamburger patties, and other products.

It really makes you wonder what you are eating when you sit down to a meal anywhere in Europe, because the stubborn whaling nations are running out of legitimate markets for a product that people just don’t want to eat. It was easy enough for the now bankrupt Willy Selten meat works to contaminate beef products with horse meat, so it is conceivable that a desperate or corrupt company would do the same the same with whale meat.

In the U.S. a sushi restaurant was indicted for selling the meat from the endangered Sei whale in the Los Angeles area:

Typhoon Restaurant Inc., the parent company of the Hump, and Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda were named in the nine-count indictment. Other charges include conspiracy to import and sell meat from the endangered sei whale and lying to federal investigators. 
The Hump closed in 2010 after an associate producer of the documentary “The Cove,” which investigated the killing of dolphins in Japan, orchestrated a video sting. The Times reported that two participating activists asked if they could order whale meat as part of an omakase meal and a waitress served eight pieces, according to a federal affidavit. DNA tests confirmed the meat came from a sei whale, which is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It’s illegal to sell any kind of whale meat in the U.S.

The whale meat could just as easily have been served ground up in a burger patty, had it not been considered a delicacy.