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.

Seaworld is Compared to Nazi Germany in this Hilarious Video

This hilarious video predicts that the public outcry against keeping whales and dolphins in captivity will hurt Seaworld’s profits, and according to NBC online, that may indeed be true. (Note however, that Seaworld is blaming the loss of revenue on rain and Easter).

SeaWorld attendance belly flops, posts 2Q loss
Published: Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 | 4:49 PM ET
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said it posted a loss of $15.9 million, or 18 cents per share, in the second quarter. Compare that with a profit of $39.1 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year, when SeaWorld was still a privately held company.
Aside from higher prices and bad weather, SeaWorld said the timing of Easter this year also shifted some visitors to the first quarter instead of the second quarter.

The point of this video is to encourage people to educate themselves on the issue of captivity by going to see “Blackfish” , currently playing in theaters throughout the country. They recommend viewing the Oscar-winning movie, “The Cove” as well, in order to learn more about how the captive display industry is tied to the ruthless and senseless slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

The video maker, Rory Cantwell, communicates through humor that we all need to take the time to understand the price that animals pay to amuse us, then decide if this is something we want to support.


Trapped Sperm Whale Surprised by Swimmer – Another Deaf Whale?

A teenager in Norway decided it was a good idea to take off his clothes and jump into the water where a sperm whale has been trapped for the last few days –  what happened next, while funny, is a reminder that there is a good reason why people are cautioned to stay a safe distance away from whales.
(Click on the blank video to start it).

It looks like the whale was startled, gave a threat display, then wanted to investigate the teen. If I were a gambling person I’d wager that there is something wrong with the whale’s hearing/sonar – sperm whales don’t come into shallow bays like this, and it is very strange that the whale was surprised.
Granted, there could be other explanations – and the whale may even get his bearings and leave – but deafened whales and dolphins turn up everywhere where loud noise pollutes the environment, and currently there is a scramble to find oil in that region.
The big petroleum companies use sonar arrays that are known to damage the hearing of marine animals, and one of the biggest companies, Det Norske, just completed a discovery well in that region. Det Norske is headquartered in Trondheim, Norway – the village where a lost killer whale was preemptively shot in the head and towed away last year (Norway Orca Whale Shot in the Head – Killed Too Quickly).
Hopefully the people of Norway will monitor the whale’s outcome, even if they decide to kill and eat him they will allow scientists to explore the cause of this unusual situation.
Let’s hope the lost whale finds his way out.

(Orca) Shark Week: When Orcas Bite Back

Thoughts of sharks looming silently from the dusky depths is the stuff of nightmares, and is enough to keep many otherwise stalwart humans from venturing into the ocean…but dolphins and whales don’t have the option to leave. Bite marks and scars on the bodies of cetaceans are testament to the frequency and relentlessness of shark attacks, and shark stomach contents can include bits of marine mammals of all types. (Full article can be found here.)

Please note, the Facebook button will let you share, but still does not keep track – a temporary glitch!

Wild Horses to be Chased Down and Face Slaughter – Secret Last Minute Plan Bans Public Observation

Please note, the Facebook button will let you share, but still does not keep track – a temporary glitch!  
PRESS RELEASE – WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (August 8, 2013) – Yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, informed the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, that it was reneging on its previous commitment to provide public observation of the taxpayer-funded helicopter roundup of wild horses on public lands in the Humboldt Toiyable National Forest. The capture operation is set to begin tomorrow, Friday, August 9, 2013, at 5 a.m., and the wild horses that are rounded up are scheduled to go to slaughter auction the following week.
Today, attorneys for AWHPC, Return to Freedom, The Cloud Foundation and the Western Watersheds Project sent a letter to the USFS outlining its legal obligations to ensure that federally-protected wild horses are not captured and sent to slaughter. The letter also addressed the USFS’ obligation, under the First Amendment, to provide the public with the opportunity to observe this taxpayer-funded, federal operation.
The USFS plans to use helicopters to roundup as many as 700 wild horses from federal and tribal Lands in northern Nevada and turn them over to the tribes to sell for slaughter. This USFS plan will proceed despite the stated opposition of the Obama Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the practice of horse slaughter.

The roundup will take place on the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation and public lands within the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, which is in close proximity to public lands where federally-protected wild horses live. Captured horses will be put up for auction on August 17, 2013 at the Fallon Livestock Exchange, which is frequented by kill buyers who buy horses and ship them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Taxpayers will foot the bill not only for the helicopter roundup but also for the transport of horses to the slaughter auction.
The USFS is required to protect wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
“The Forest Service is shirking its obligations under federal law to protect wild horses and uphold the public’s First Amendment rights,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom, AWHPC’s founding organization. “This backroom deal between the Forest Service and the Paiute-Shoshone tribe to use our tax dollars to roundup wild horses and send them to a slaughter auction is outrageous and unacceptable. This is a betrayal of the American public and it raises the question of whether the federal government is using the tribes to launder protected wild horses to slaughter.”
“Unless the captured horses are branded, there is no way to verify their origin, and they are likely protected wild horses who have strayed from their nearby Herd Management Area,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “We demand that the Forest Service release any captured, unbranded horses because they may, in fact, be wild horses that are federally protected from slaughter. The Forest Service must definitively verify that no federally protected mustangs are caught up in the dragnet of this helicopter assault and slaughter operation.”
South Steens wild horses at a trap in the Burns District.The Forest Service will pay to round up the horses and pay to transport them to the Fallon Livestock Exchange. According to AWHPC, any unbranded horses that are rounded up could be federally protected mustangs that wandered off Bureau of Land Management (BLM) LIttle Owyhee Herd Management Area which are lands designated as wild horse habitat areas. In fact, the BLM’s massive 450,000-acre Little Owyhee Herd Management Area is approximately 10 miles away from USFS lands and within proximity to the reservation; a BLM map for the 2012 Owyhee Complex wild horse roundup indicates that wild horses have been found on lands adjacent to USFS lands and near to the reservation. Wild horses are known to naturally travel great distances on a daily basis.
On May 30, 2013, the USFS and the tribes reportedly signed the agreement to execute this roundup.  The decision to remove the horses was signed 15 days later. The USFS reportedly delegated the responsibility to inform the public about this federal operation to the tribe. The USFS conducted no environmental or legal analysis for the proposed action and did not provide the public with any notification or opportunity to comment on it.
# # #
Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. Return to Freedom provides a safe haven to over 300 wild horses and burros at its sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California and in Nevada where the group is planning to create a larger wild horse preserve.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.
The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands with special emphasis on isolated, genetically unique herds like Cloud’s in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.
Western Watersheds Project is a non-profit conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and litigation. The group works to influence and improve public lands management in 8 western states with a primary focus on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on 250,000,000 acres of western public lands.

(Baby) Shark Week: Seaworld Performs C-Section on Pregnant Shark

Until the social sharing capacity is restored (you can share, but the counter won’t show it), I’ll mainly post video essays – enjoy!

From CBS Miami:

For the first time in SeaWorld’s history, a Cesarean section has been performed on a shark.
A team of shark experts and veterinarians performed the groundbreaking procedure on a whitetip reef shark at Discovery Cove, SeaWorld’s sister park, in Orlando on July 18, 2013.
Six months into the shark’s gestation, the park’s animal team noticed a complication with her pregnancy and determined an emergency C-section was necessary.
Whitetip reef sharks give birth to live young. In this case, four healthy pups were born. The pups each weighed less than three pounds at birth and were about two feet long.

Florida Museum of Natural History reports:

In Hawaii, some families regarded this shark as ‘aumakua’, a guardian spirit. They would feed rather than hunt whitetip reef sharks.

The whitetip reef shark typically lives along the bottom in clear, shallow waters surrounding coral reefs. It has been reported at depths to 1,083 feet (330 m). Rarely coming to the surface, this shark is capable of lying motionless on the bottom substrate for long periods of time. During daylight hours, whitetip reef sharks form aggregations in caves, sometimes appearing stacked up like a pile of logs. The same sharks often return repeatedly to the same cave for long periods of time, changing location only periodically. The whitetip reef shark is most active throughout the night. Site fidelity is strong with each shark maintaining a small home range for months or years at a time.
This shark is relatively harmless to humans due to its easygoing disposition and small teeth. It avoids close contact with humans, swimming off when approached by swimmers and divers. Often attracted to food, divers have been able to hand feed individual whitetip reef sharks. However, on occasion, a shark will become overly excited by spearfishing or when bait is present, resulting in a bite to a diver. This species is also known to bite if harassed.

(Normal gestation is 5 months according to the museum)

Tweetstorm is Brewing – Save These Dolphins From Going Extinct

(Apologies to readers, the Facebook button will allow you to share but will not record that you did, just a technical glitch!)

Why Maui’s dophins are special

Maui's dolphin.
Maui’s dolphin
Maui’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) are a sub-species of Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori sp.), the world’s smallest dolphin. It is one of the world’s rarest dolphins and is found only on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
The dolphin is listed internationally as ‘critically endangered’ (IUCN Red List) and as ‘Nationally Critical’ under the New Zealand Threat Classification System.
In 2012, a DOC-commissioned study estimated the Maui’s dolphin population to consist of 55 individuals aged more than 1 year (i.e. excluding calves under a year old). This estimate has a 95% confidence interval of between 48 to 69, meaning the researchers are 95% confident that the population lies within this range. See Maui’s dolphin abundance estimate.
This small population of dolphins is thought to have been isolated from their more-numerous relatives, South Island Hector’s dolphin, for thousands of years.
1148889_10201915503906912_1017773690_n for dolphin tweet storm

 WHAT THEY NEED:  Full protection against gillnets and trawling across the dolphins’ habitat to a water depth of 100 m.
INFO:  Fishing with gillnets and trawlnets is the primary cause of death among the last surviving Maui’s dolphins. Between them they KILL ABOUT NINE PERCENT of the tiny population that’s left every year – that’s over 75 times more than the sustainable limit. This is because only a small fraction of the dolphins’ range is protected.
The New Zealand Seafood Industry: Seafood New Zealand –www.seafoodnewzealand.org.nz – is the industry body that has obstructed the dolphins’ protection for decades and continues to fight every conservation effort. Please take part in our tweetstorm to tell NZ’s fishing industry that enough is enough. It’s time you became a sustainable and responsible business.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW ON TWITTER:  Please go to #911MauisDolphins or click here www.twitter.com/search/realtime?q=%23911MauisDolphins and copy & paste or retweet. Let’s get the word out now for these little Maui’s Dolphins in advance of our tweetstorm on August 8th.

1146628_10201912055740710_1594700415_n tweetstorm2

(Baby) Shark Week – When Young Sharks Need Help

Until the social sharing capacity is restored (you can share, but the counter won’t show it), I’ll just post video essays – enjoy!

The first video is especially poignant, when you consider that surfers spend a lot of time in shark habitat…but then again, as a group surfers really seem to recognize that they are visitors in the sharks’ world, and understand that the occasional bite is thought to be the result of confusion on the shark’s part.

Import of 18 Wild-caught Belugas by the Georgia Aquarium is Denied!

(Apologies to readers, the Facebook button will allow you to share but will not record that you did, just a technical glitch!)
In a landmark decision today, NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) announced that it denied the request of the Georgia Aquarium to import wild-caught beluga whales.

The time of marine mammal circuses is drawing to a close.
The time of marine mammal circuses is drawing to a close.

After careful review, NOAA Fisheries concluded that the application did not meet several of the MMPA permit criteria. NOAA Fisheries denied the permit application because:
NOAA Fisheries is unable to determine whether or not the proposed importation, by itself or in combination with other activities, would have a significant adverse impact on the Sakhalin-Amur beluga whale stock, the population that these whales are taken from;
NOAA Fisheries determined that the requested import will likely result in the taking of marine mammals beyond those authorized by the permit;
NOAA Fisheries determined that five of the beluga whales proposed for import, estimated to be approximately 1½ years old at the time of capture, were potentially still nursing and not yet independent.
The Aquarium sought to import the whales from Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station on Russia’s Black Sea Coast for public display at its own facility in Atlanta and at partner facilities, including SeaWorld of Florida, SeaWorld of Texas, SeaWorld of California and Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
The whales were captured from Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk between 2006 and 2011. There is little reliable scientific information about the size and population trend of the Sakhalin-Amur stock of belugas, and the impact on the stock of other human activities, such as hunting and fishing, is unknown.

Although not federally mandated under the marine mammal protection act unless an endangered species is under consideration, it is difficult for amusement parks and aquaria to obtain permission to display wild-caught cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Recognizing that public display facilities are woefully inadequate in meeting the complex needs of these animals and that public sentiment is not in favor of capturing wild animals for entertainment, NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) has generally made exceptions only in rescue situations such as when animals are injured or beached.
While threatened by climate change and development in their natural habitat, as a whole the population has a status of ‘near-threatened’ (although some sub-populations may be more endangered than others) in the wild, the 18 belugas requested for import are in no way considered rescued. They were caught purely to supply the demand for fresh genetic material for the captive industry and to generate money in displays worldwide.
31 belugas live in six U.S. aquariums and theme parks, but industry officials claim that this population of captives is unsustainable due to inbreeding so in a move reminiscent of the dolphin laundering that went on in the past (Fall From Freedom, see end) they applied for the ‘already caught’ belugas from Russia. In order to succeed in their request, however, they had to demonstrate to the NMFS that they could prove the following requirements for import were met.
“The proposed activity is humane and does not present any unnecessary risks to the health and welfare of marine mammals,”
“The proposed activity by itself or in combination with other activities will not likely have a significant adverse impact on the species or stock,”
The first requirement – that the capture was humane and did not cause risk – is the toughest to evaluate, but it is accepted that it is virtually impossible to capture a wild dolphin or whale without risk to the health and welfare of the animals.
The aquarium might have been able to argue for the second requirement – since the belugas were already captured hence the importation would no longer have an impact – but that would mean that the U.S. supports what is tantamount to poaching by other nations. Allowing other countries to do what our laws prevent, then allowing U.S. amusement parks to profit would send a clear message that our laws are here to be circumvented by industry.
This decision goes a long way towards restoring faith in a system that has accepted the burden of its office – to protect marine resources – while simultaneously facing the pressure from the huge captive display industry. Past decisions that undermined that faith in this arm of the government – such as allowing the standards of care to be set by the industry, not biologists – belong in the past, it was a different time, with different people at the helm when the decisions to bow to industry were made.
Times have changed, and hopefully this is a signal that life is about to get a whole lot better for captive whales and dolphins, at least as far as the government is concerned.