How Many More Must Die?

How many more must die?

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SeaWorld recently announced the death of Kayla, a 30-year-old orca, who apparently died of “unknown causes” after handlers noticed her not feeling well for two days. Orcas can live to be 90 or better if left in the wild. A necropsy will be performed to see what made Kayla fall ill and die. Perhaps if someone with a bit of sensitivity and half-witted intelligence at SeaWorld recognized that these creatures are  not meant to be imprisoned in tanks and forced into performing for crowds unaware of orcas’ keen intelligence and sensitivity, Kayla would still be alive.

There are still 20 whales in captivity remaining in SeaWorld parks. Five are held captive in Orlando, five in San Antonio, and ten are in San Diego. Likely they will all die unnatural deaths too.

An organization with even half a heart would release these orcas to a sanctuary where they could be rehabilitated back to the environment they’ve been denied. At worst they’d remain in a natural sanctuary, not a tank. But that’s not the way the do busine$$.  How many more must die? (Information from http://www.10TV.com/article/30-year-old-orca-dies-seaworld-orlando-park)

Even more appalling, however, is the captivity of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales in Russia’s remote  eastern area. These animals are in danger of freezing to death when their pens ice over and temperatures drop to subarctic levels. Once the orcas start developing frost bite they will die. If an orca’s dorsal fin (which regulates its temperature) freezes, the mammal can easily succumb to the cold.

These animals were captured last summer with the plan of selling them to China for their dolphinariums/aquariums. The whales are being cruelly held in a tiny area. China has plans for over 60 “aquariums” and is buying dolphins from the Japanese and apparently whales from Russia.

According to the Independent, a British publication, activists have been lobbying Vladimire Putin for the animals’ release. They have seen one of the orcas whose fin is “peeling off in large, flapping chunks.” This whale and others have already developed frostbite.

The observed sick whale is “…completely inactive, looks sick and floating motionless for long periods. His breathing is very slow and ‘gentle,’ which can be a sign of pneumonia or other diseases of internal organs.” Other orcas have skin lesions that are likely due to fungal diseases from being kept in such small, confined pens.

There is no doubt that the orcas are also suffering extreme stress due to the heavy equipment and noise around the area.

The capture and torment of such intelligent, sensitive, social mammals absolutely must be stopped. It’s difficult to believe that a leader such as Vladimir Putin, who supposedly regards wildlife very highly, would allow this kind of abuse to take place.

SeaWorld has 20 orcas still in captivity. Russia holds 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales captive. Japan is commencing the commercial slaughter of whales in July despite world-wide protest and condemnation.

How many more must die?

(Information from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/killer-whales-orcas-belugas-captive-russia-china-okhotsk-vladivostok-a8748066.html)

It’s Time to Enact the Rights of Nature

3167e-SOOpc2B2BjpegRecent headlines forewarned that two more Southern Resident orcas appear to be dying of malnutrition. That will leave the pod ever closer to extinction with only 72 whales remaining. It’s way past time for this government, for every government in the world, to enact the “Rights of Nature.”

“Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world. It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined” (therightsofnature.org/what-is-rights-of-nature/.)

“It’s Likely There Aren’t More Than 411 Right Whales Left, New Estimate Finds.” Headlines like this are dismaying. According to WBUR News, “The calculation is based on a trove of statistical data, observations of individual animals and a wave of observed mortalities, with no newborn whales observed in the most recent calving season.” The cause of this decline appears to be the gear used by Maine lobstermen that entangles the whales.

Let’s not overlook the whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia with approximately 115 plastic cups, flip flops and plastic bags in its stomach.

The number of dead whales is increasing in most areas of the world. Even Scotland and Ireland had an “Unprecedented Number of Dead Whales” (Cuvier’s beaked whales) wash up on their shores. Scientists say that the 80 dead whales might actually indicate that up to 1,000 of the Cuvier’s beaked whales actually died.

The Cuvier beaked whale is a deep diver, going as low as 9500 feet for up to two hours to hunt for food. This particular whale is very sensitive to loud sounds, and it’s speculated that anti-submarine sonar caused such intense pain to the whales that they surfaced too quickly. “Anti-submarine sonar isn’t used by Irish warships, but it is used by the U.S. Navy and by Britain’s navy,” Simon Berrow, a marine biologist said. Not surprisingly, neither group admits to being in the area using anti-submarine sonar.

For some reason, nearly 200 pilot whales died after stranding on a New Zealand beach. 149 died one day with another 50 the following day. Strandings apparently are a common phenomenon on New Zealand shores, according to “Up to 145 Pilot Whales Dead After Mass stranding on New Zealand Beach.” What causes these strandings? Pollution? Military sonar? Submarine activity? Warmer water?

“Torture of Russian whale jail as 100 Orcas and Belugas captured in Pacific Bay,” a dismaying article in The Telegraph by Alex Luhn felt like a slap in the face. I thought the crime of capturing whales for aquariums was over. Apparently not when the Chinese are in the market.

In 2018, 100 orca and beluga whales were (and possibly still are) being illegally held in a bay near Nakhodka in Russia and were/are to be  sold to the Chinese for their booming ocean theme park industry in China. There are already over 60 marine parks in China, according to Alec Luhn of Moscow for The Telegraph (British paper).  The Chinese plan for at least a dozen more ocean parks.

Supposedly Russia is investigating this, but Russia is also believed to be the only country that exports orcas captured in the wild, according to Luhn.

Since the “jail” is quite small, this suggests that many of the captured orcas are babies. Other reports say the whales are being tortured. For every orca captured, however, at least another is killed in the process. Jailers don’t seem to care since an orca can fetch up to $6 million dollars. This activity flies in the face of the 1982 moratorium against whaling: the only whaling allowed is for scientific purposes (that sounds quite lame) or for those with aboriginal “cultural” needs (another fairly lame sounding excuse taken advantage of by the Japanese who have killed over 1,000,000 whales and dolphins).

“Catching them at this tempo, we risk losing our entire orca population,” according to Oganes Targulyan, a Greenpeace Russia research coordinator.

And now the Japanese are on the hunt again. Their past history of whaling does not inspire trust or confidence. But the Japanese are certainly not the only ones to decimate aquatic populations. Unsustainable fishing practices are now the bane of the oceans. Just this week a blue fine tuna, a threatened species, sold for $3,000,000 for sushi! As the population grows, the population of fish diminishes.

In September of 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize rights for nature in its constitution. Bolivia is in the process of implementing laws that also recognize certain rights for nature. More than two dozen communities in the U.S. have adopted laws that recognize the rights of nature. The first major municipality to do so was the City of Pittsburgh in 2010.

It’s time.

(Material in this blog is from Saving Our Oceans. Release date is May 2019.)

 

Japan Defies IWC, Resumes Commercial Whaling

Japan is dropping its membership in the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an international group composed of 89 member nations, and will resume commercial whaling in July, 2019.

      Although hugely disappointing, the decision comes as no surprise. Japan attended the 2018 IWC meeting in Brazil with the intention of persuading member nations to vote to drop the moratorium on commercial whaling and to resume the cruel, barbaric practice. Japan’s motion did not receive the required votes and was defeated.
     Japan alone is responsible for the slaughter of over 1,000,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the last 70 years. Whether this insane slaughter continues to this day, is difficult to ascertain due to limited publication of the facts. However, according to https://www.dosomething.org, the Japanese kill 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales every year. The slaughter of dolphins occurs in the  Taiji bay, which was made known to the world in the documentary film The Cove. Those cetaceans that aren’t slaughtered are sold to aquariums around the world. The going price for a dolphin is around $32,000 U.S.. When not conducting dolphin slaughtering events, “the fishermen also participate in harpoon hunts and small type coastal whaling for dolphins and pilot whales, as elsewhere in Japan, effectively ensuring that Japan’s dolphins are under almost year-round assault from these various hunting methods and seasons,” according to WDC in Action: “Dolphin Hunts – Focus on Taiji, Japan.” Some of these species are nearing extinction and cannot “come back.”
     The other galling issue with the Japanese sport of harpooning mammals, is that though they’ve been a member of the International Whaling Commission for years, they’ve still hunted whales during this time, often in waters set aside for whale sanctuaries. These animals have been slaughtered under the guise of “scientific research,” a lame loophole in the moratorium that allows limited whale hunts. Last year alone Japan slaughtered over 300 minke whales, 120 of which were pregnant. It’s no secret that much of the meat from the slaughtered mammals is offered on restaurant menus even though few Japanese eat whale meat nowadays.
     Many whale species like the blue whales, fin whales and sei whales have not recovered from earlier decimation, contrary to what the Japanese say.
     Kate O’Connell, AWI marine wildlife consultant, summed it up nicely when she said, “This cruel and unnecessary industry is a relic of the past that has no place in modern society.” Yet Japanese officials claim that hunting and eating whales is part of their cultural heritage. This seems a bit far-fetched for a country that prides itself on its “massaged, beer-fed Kobi beef.” There are no samurais running about the Japanese countryside anymore. Whaling is an activity of the past that caused several species to become extinct.
     It appears, by all accounts, that this whaling decision may be a matter of Japan “saving face.”
(Parts of this article are quoted from Saving Our Oceans, release date May 2019.)


Moonlight Mesa Announces Release of Two New E-Books

In a surprise move, Moonlight Mesa Associates publisher Becky Coffield announced  that two of the company’s nonfiction titles will be released as e-books very soon.

        SGA Cover Some Gave All, J.R. Sanders’ nonfiction account of Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On, will likely be in e-book format in January. “Converting this book without losing its design is a challenge,” Coffield said. “We positively do not want to lose the artwork and photos in the book. We’ve managed to get the file below 50MG, so it should work with Kindle, but the file is much too large for Smashwords, unfortunately.”

Although Kindle claims the bulk of e-book sales, Smashwords is a distributor to ALL E-BOOKS – every brand imaginable.

“We’ve been thinking of doing this for quite some time. Thinking is the easy part; doing is the challenge.”

Coffield’s big push is to have the e-book available in January. “This is just a wonderful book,” Coffield said. “But eliminating photos and such hurts. We eliminated photos in Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride because no e-book publisher could handle the size of the files back then. Hopefully they can do better now.”

E cover RowingMedThe other title Coffield is moving to electronic format is also undergoing a title change. The Old Folks in the Boat will be available also in January, under a new ISBN and title: Rowing for Health. The original title will be kept as part of the subtitle.

“We made a mistake choosing the title for the book,” Coffield admits. “We spent months – no, two years – throwing titles around. Seriously. I don’t know how that happened as much time as we spent talking about titles.”

Coffield feels that the book should be doing better than it is. “We didn’t expect a barn-burner with a niche book, and we’ve sold copies every month, but I truly think the book should be selling better. We talked about just re-issuing it under a new title and a new ISBN, but the thought of having to change the cover and headers and the uploads, it just exhausted me. That’s still a possibility, but I’d prefer not to go there – at least at this time,” the publisher said.

The e-book title will be Rowing for Health. The subtitle will be Inspiration from The Old Folks in the Boat. Like Sanders’ book, the number of photos in the electronic version of Rowing for Health could present a stumbling block.

Moonlight Mesa’s 2018 top-selling nonfiction, A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule,  is not destined for e-book conversion – at least at this time. The publisher will, however, release an e-book for Saving Our Oceans at the same time as the trade-paperback. “I expect better e-book sales with that title,” Coffield said. “I can’t tell you why. I just do.” Coffield plans to donate the money from sales to orca and ocean groups.

Why the Fuss over Whales?

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Most people on this planet will never see a whale. They might see one on the internet, but that’s not the same as seeing one in the flesh. That might be a bit similar to watching a roller coaster compared to being on the roller coaster. So why the fuss over animals most people will never see or encounter?

There are, remarkably, many people who feel their lives have been changed by their very first encounter with a whale in the wild. Once seen in the wild, seeing a whale in captivity is indescribably, deeply disturbing.

In 2018 I followed the IWC Convention (International Whaling Commission) very closely that was held in Brazil. According to the IWC, the purpose of the organization is to “provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.” The IWC is composed of 89 member governments from all over the world. It was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC on December 2, 1946.

One of the major accomplishments of the IWC has been the effort to control, and eliminate, whaling. The group recognizes three type of whaling: aboriginal subsistence whaling, commercial whaling, and there is a special permit for “scientific whaling.” Most nations respect the moratorium that was placed on commercial whaling in 1986.  There are others who have defied the IWC’s regulations and have continued the inhumane, merciless slaughter of whales. Norway is one such country. Iceland and the Faroe Islands do likewise.

Unfortunately, Japan is one of these nations also even though they signed the moratorium. Japan, however, uses the “scientific permit” allowed for research as a reason for their slaughter, which is quite a stretch, having slaughtered over 333 minke whales this past year, including many juveniles and pregnant whales (some say 90%), along with whales living in a protected area of Antarctica. In the 2018 IWC meeting in Brazil, it was reported that Japan came highly prepared to present their argument to do away with the moratorium on commercial whaling. Many warn that lifting the ban could lead to the resumption of the practice of commercial whaling.

“The International Whaling Commission established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1994. The sanctuary surrounds Antarctica and bans all types of commercial whaling in the area. There has been dispute over the legality of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, with Japan completely disregarding the outline and hunting under the false pretense of scientific research. It’s not at all surprising that there is little trust for the Japanese proposal of “self-policing and honest reporting” should the IWC overturn the moratorium on killing whales. Further, there is no way the Japanese can justify slaughtering 333 minke whales for “scientific research.” It’s no secret that much of the meat from the slaughtered mammals is offered on restaurant menus.

Kate O’Connell, AWI marine wildlife consultant, summed it up nicely when she said, “This cruel and unnecessary industry is a relic of the past that has no place in modern society.” Yet Japanese officials claim that hunting and eating whales is part of their cultural heritage. This seems a bit far-fetched for a country that prides itself on its “massaged, beer-fed Kobi beef.” There are no samurais running about the Japanese countryside anymore. Whaling is an activity of the past that caused several species to become extinct. Fortunately, Japan’s bid for ending the whaling moratorium was voted down by the required majority of the IWC members. Sadly, they will still continue the hunt under the guise of “scientific research.”

Although preservation of whales is currently a priority, several countries  continue to harpoon hundreds of whales a year.

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From Chapter 4 Saving Our Oceans. Release date: May 2019