Whales, Dolphins, Salmon and Dams – Great News!

The best “feel good” item told about the successful response to the entanglement of an Arabian Sea humpback whale.

Just when I start becoming very discouraged about the total lack of interest regarding whales and ocean health in general since Covid has reared its ugly face, I seem to receive heart-warming communications. It’s always enough to enliven me for days if not weeks to come.

Just yesterday I received a truly nice, hand-written thank you note from Joseph Bogaard of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition located in Washington State. I do my best to help support this and other northwest groups engaged in the fight to save wild salmon…and “wild whales”…and to restore the sad captive ones back to freedom. Receiving Joseph’s note when I did was a terrific boon to my flagging hopes of relocating once again to the Pacific Northwest where I lived for over 50 years. (Yes, I know. I can hardly believe I’m that old!) Joseph and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition were early joiners of our JUST ONE THING Alliance. Then, like magic, a message from our realtor followed today suggesting an offer for our home might soon be in the works.

There’s more: to top things off, I received communication from the International Whaling Commission today with updates on whale related topics of interest.

Photo of Elwa Dam by Seattle Times

As for the wild salmon issue, since Washington State has torn  down a few dams (and have more dams on the drawing board for destruction) salmon miraculously seem to be showing up, navigating the now free-flowing rivers long blocked off. And in the not too distant future, Oregon and California have agreed to tear down some dams that will also help promote salmon restoration along with Native American rites.

Photo by John Boyd

As for the IWC, their work is so incredibly important. For example, in September (2020) the Conservation Committee met (virtually) to discuss the management plan for South American river dolphins as well as a plan to mitigate measures regarding bycatch of cetaceans. Many seabirds, turtles and sharks are subject to being caught in fishing nets and traps. There is now growing awareness and concern to protect marine mammals. “Measures for reducing bycatch include spatial closures, the use of acoustic deterrents or alerting devices, modifications to fishing gear, and changes in fishing operations” along with “awareness-raising.” I think sometimes devastation ecological things happen  because people are simply not aware that what they are doing is deadly for whales, fish, and other sea creatures..

Finally, the best “feel good” item told about the successful response to the entanglement of an Arabian Sea humpback whale. Many groups came together (the Oman Environmental Authority, Five Oceans Environmental Services, LLC and Future Seas Global SPC) to free a humpback whale from entanglement in a gill net. (IMO net fisheries absolutely must be abolished.) This particular humpback species is in extreme danger of extinction, largely due to ship strikes, fishing bycatch, and other threats.

So, I’ve had happy, inspiring news, and I’m also still covid-free. Who can ask for more nowadays?

Whale Captivity is Criminal

PHOTO-Type-D-killer-whales-showing-their-blunt-heads-and-tiny-eyepatches-in-2011-Credit-J.P.-Sylvestre-South-Georgia-1125x534-Landscape-1000x477    There is simply one reason why the United States of America permits orcas to be treated in the most inhumane, cruel, despicable way. Of course, money is the reason.

For starters, it’s important to remember that whales are mammals. They are like us in that respect. Whales, chimpanzees and humans are placental carriers – that is each carries its unborn young in a placental sack.  It’s believed that whales, sloths, bats and humans share a common ancestor, which is a topic for a blog from a geneticist, I suppose. My concern is why we allow mammals, whales in particular, to be treated worse than the criminally insane.

No other nation, with possibly the exception of China, now allows orcas and belugas to be captured in the wild and held in swimming pools solely for personal enrichment and human entertainment. Only the United States allows this criminal behavior of imprisonment to continue – specifically Sea World and their “Shamu” shows.

Finally, word recently escaped about how cruelly the whales are treated in captivity, often being deprived of food if they fail to do as ordered. Almost every whale in captivity has died decades before its time. Out of sheer frustration and boredom, the orcas bang their heads against the sides of the pool. Their teeth are ground to nubs from grinding and chewing on cement. They deeply mourn the loss of their pod. But the show goes on.

Orcas are extremely intelligent. They have language skills and communicate with each other. They have very strong familial ties and are highly social animals. They also have a sense of self. They mentally KNOW they exist. Fortunately, the capture of whales has been outlawed in most all countries – with the exception of renegades in Russia who illegally imprisoned orcas and beluga whales last winter for sale to China. Under Putin’s direction the whales were released. Orcas also are no longer allowed to be bred in captivity since the offspring die. When the babies die, the mothers grieve for long periods of time.

Orcas are designed by nature to swim a hundred miles a day, give or take, and dive to deep depths in pursuit of food. Yet knowing this and all the inhumane treatment the whales endure in captivity, Sea World continues to hold them as prisoners in swimming pools not much bigger than the whales themselves. There’s absolutely no heart, humanity, or morality here – it’s clearly about the money earned by the captivity.

Unfortunately, we have a president who is not particularly environmentally friendly. With a stroke of his pen I think he could end the captivity of orcas and order  them to be released to ocean sanctuaries now ready to help them return to their natural habitat, just as Putin did. Perhaps Sea World executives are big supporters of Trump?

Sea World says it will stop their whale shows by the end of 2019. That remains to be seen. Perhaps they plan on imprisoning more dolphins (perhaps the smartest animal in the ocean and possibly smarter than humans) and porpoises to display. Or how about another walrus?

The captivity and imprisonment of any wild animal is cruel beyond measure. It must be stopped, just as the imprisonment and captivity of people in this country was stopped.

Whales, dolphins, chimpanzees, people – we are all mammals. We share DNA and a common ancestor. Possibly humans are the smartest living “creature” on the planet, but that’s debatable as the dolphin is a contender for first place when it comes to intelligence, and orcas are members of the dolphin family. Unfortunately, we have the dishonor of being the cruelest creature on the planet.

Enacting a Rights of Nature would put an end to this wild animal captivity nonsense. We don’t own these animals – we share the world with them.

To read more about the exploitation and massacre of whales and orcas read Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield.

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