What’s Wrong with These People?

There are many Japanese citizens who disapprove of Japan’s whaling industry and the brutal slaying and sale of dolphins that is sanctioned by their government, but when it comes to oceanic mammal slaughter and abuse, few countries can outdo Japan. Their inhumane, barbaric slaughtering and treatment of whales and dolphins is a stunning, murderous orgy. It’s bad enough that this nation continued whale hunts for years after signing the International Whaling Commission’s agreement not to do so. They killed thousands of whales under the guise of “scientific research.” Australians frequently accused the Japanese of hunting in whale preserves in Antarctica. Of course, the “scientifically researched” slaughtered whales appeared on restaurant menus in Japan.

In December of 2018, the Japanese announced they would no longer remain members of the IWC (were they ever?) and would resume commercial whaling in July 2019. The London based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) estimates that the Japanese have killed over 1,000,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises in the last 70 years. One million.

The dolphin hunts in Taigi Bay are equally as disgraceful, cruel, and vicious as harpooning whales. The Japanese fishermen conduct huge roundups of schools of dolphin, driving them into Taigi Bay where they are brutally and painfully slaughtered or set aside for sale to aquariums. The bay literally turns red with blood. This behavior is simply aberrant and abnormal. According to the EIA, “The hunts in Japan’s coastal waters specifically target nine small cetacean species, eight of them with government-set catch limits which are clearly unsustainable.”

Most ocean advocates know that dolphins (and likely orcas) are the most intelligent mammals in the world – second only to humans, but obviously well beyond the intelligence of the people who hunt, murder, and sell them.

Despite international disapproval, I suspect that Japanese pride and ego keep them from bowing to world condemnation and pressure to desist in these moribund activities.

They slaughter whales because it’s a “cultural heritage” activity, so they say.                                     (Photo by Blue Planet Society)

The Japanese are not the only ones with a penchant for murdering non-aggressive mammals. This year the Faroe Islanders have also been on a rampage. 2019 is proving to be a bloody year. The Faroe Islanders have killed over 688 whales, with 50 whales being slaughtered yesterday alone. The reason? They claim it’s part of their history and culture. When will this madness end?

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So what can be done about this? Boycotting products from those countries is a good start. Support the efforts of groups working to combat these atrocities. Stop visiting and supporting aquariums, especially those (like SeaWorld) who hold orcas and dolphins in swimming pools for people’s entertainment and owners’ profit. Their abusive training methods have finally been exposed, so they should absolutely not be allowed to keep ANY whale or dolphin in captivity. Yet they do. Demand that orcas, dolphins and porpoises be set free. Swimming pools are not an appropriate place for these ocean traveling mammals.

Saving Our Oceans covers in detail the topic discussed here. Get free shipping with your order, and know that the proceeds from the sale of Saving Our Oceans is earmarked for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Click here to contact us to place your order.

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Too Many Predators

Between net fisheries, sports fishermen, and seals and sea lions, the

dwindling number of Southern Resident Pod of orcas wavers on the brink of extinction.

There are simply too many Chinook salmon predators for the orcas to compete with, and the Chinook is the primary food source for the Southern Resident pod. Add ship strikes, whale watching intrusiveness and toxins and the odds against another two decades of survival for the pod is a safe bet.

Net fisheries need to be abolished for the benefit and sustainability of all ocean species. These nets can be up to two miles long and collect every life form in the net’s path as it’s towed along. Most of the by-catch is thrown away – it’s already dead.

Even gill netting is catastrophic. The Columbia River, a massive river between Oregon and Washington, is a prime example. This river used to have a magnificent salmon run until a crowd of gill netters and a series of dams along with a booming population of seals has all but decimated the runs.

40 years ago seals were deemed an endangered species due to fishermen shooting them for stealing salmon. In the past 40 years the population of seals has greatly expanded. Seals can now be seen snagging salmon with insolent ease as the salmon struggle to climb the stupid fish ladders at the dam to return to their spawning grounds. If they manage to make it up the Bonneville dam ladder, they have four Snake River dams still to go.

Sports fishermen have taken their fair share of Chinook also, although both Washington State and Canada curtailed the salmon sport fishing season this year (2019). It should have been suspended for several years.

This year San Juan Islanders were bemoaning the fact that the orcas had only showed up twice. News came that the whales were staying on the outside of Vancouver Island where it was reported that there were more salmon and a lot less boat traffic to contend with.

The orcas need to stay there. If they return to Puget Sound and the Salish Sea they will only be starved and pestered to death.

Governor Inslee has apparently given up his quest for the White House. He needs to get back to his job. If the orcas die off on his watch it will be the end of his political life for certain. A sad, inexcusable legacy.

Day 3: Spotting Whales

After two long days of lectures we will now be out in the field for the next 3 days!

Today’s outing was to Lime Kiln State Park to look for whales passing by, take a hike, and two more classes…two outside and one inside.

It’s interesting that the Southern Resident pod is finally finding its preferred food on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and not so much here in the Salish Sea. Reports from the coast are that the whales are looking fatter and happier! Meanwhile, a transient group of orcas, Biggs transient pod, is now in this area more. The Southern Resident pod prefers to dine on Chinook, and the transients like seals, sea lions, etc. And there are plenty of those around here. Their population has exploded in the last 40 years since they were listed as an endangered species…so no more shooting them for stealing fish off your hook! The Southern Resident pod is still around some though, but this year they even hit up Monterey Bay for food. It’s been a spell since the Southern Resident pod has traveled that far for Chinook.

The day, incidentally, was great! Weather was accommodating, the speakers were knowledgeable and interesting.

The question is growing in my mind, though, can I be a Marine Naturalist in Arizona? How’s that going to work? I will have to give this A LOT of thought. I signed up for this course thinking we’d be relocating back to the Pacific Northwest. This may not come true if our house in AZ doesn’t sell. Bummer.

Could I be a naturalist in Arizona? I just don’t see the culture there embracing this. We’ll find out soon enough.

Oh…we saw no whales.

Another Day in Paradise

Mmm…Maybe not paradise, but a far site better than broiling in Arizona.

Somehow I’ve managed to load the boat with too many pairs of shoes, socks, shirts, shorts and food, and we actually still have a waterline showing.

Add to this a case of Saving Our Oceans, another box of books I plan to read, and a well-stocked bar, and I rarely even drink.

I have beautiful new wooden scoop oars this year for rowing and a paddle board tied to the top of my shade gizmo.

In July I’ll be in Friday Harbor for my Marine Naturalist Training Program and also house hunting, but I need enough acreage for our two mules also. All this on a budget…it could be tough.

Currently we’re still dock bound in Anacortes getting the boat ready for its summer travels. I’m more than a bit concerned about the number of dead whales showing up on beaches along the West coast, but it seems that the Southern Resident pod of orcas is maintaining its status quo and hopefully things will improve since Canada put the brakes on sport and commercial salmon fishing this year. Washington also cut salmon fishing back and also made stringent rules regarding tour boats’ proximity to whales. ABOUT TIME!!

My goal this summer is to hike 200 miles and to row 200 miles. Oh…and sell my box of books.

Save a Whale – It’s Easy

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Here’s an easy,  gratifying way to feel uplifted and do a wondrous deed in the process.

Adopt an Orca! This small adoption act is powerful and enriching. Your donation will not only leave you feeling delightfully good, but somehow the adoption feels like a gift for you too.

The Friday Harbor Whale Museum has a wonderful whale adoption program. For $35 a person can adopt an orca (a member of the Southern Resident Pod) and help support these endangered whales. The proceeds from the adoption support orca education and research.

You get to choose your whale from a long list of available adoptees. (They all have names, too!) You’ll receive a large photo of your whale along with adoption papers, and you’ll also receive a monthly newsletter about the pod. It’s an incredible program. Or a person can do a family adoption or a classroom adoption.

After adopting a whale in 2018, I “gifted” the whale (Cookie) to my four-year-old grandson so that he might develop an interest in these animals and eventually grow to be a steward of nature in some manner. He now has several story books starring orcas.

You might tend to think this is gimmicky, or perhaps akin to adopting a star and naming it after someone. But orca adoption is entirely different. These whales are strikingly intelligent, social beings. The Southern Resident Pod is in a precarious situation in part due to the rampant capture and imprisonment of these magnificent mammals by Sea World which decimated the population. Tragically, no captive whale has lived much beyond 30 years of age. In the wild they can live up to 80 years and longer. And, no whale born into captivity lives past 30. (Sea World can’t seem to figure out that swimming pools just aren’t the same as the ocean. This is why Sea World is one of the most hated companies in America.)

Click here to access the whale adoption page on the Friday Harbor website.

You can also buy a copy of Saving Our Oceans and support these whales. The Whale Museum is a 2019 recipient of the proceeds from the sale of Saving Our Oceans.

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Now available

War of the Whales

  john boyd photoWar of the Whales (Joshua Horwitz) is a superb account of the hellish situation in our oceans. The book often feels like a nail-biting suspense. Other times the information is so depressing it’s hard to continue reading.

This book has its share of villains and heroes. Probably a highlight was reading about the incredibly dedicated people, like Ken Balcomb and Joel Reynolds and others, who have literally devoted their lives and careers to defending whales, dolphins and marine species of all kinds. Without their commitment and perseverance, there likely wouldn’t be a whale left that hadn’t died by stranding due to military sonar bombardment and bomb detonation. Other organizations discussed in the book also wreaked havoc for marine life blasting away during oil exploration.

As Jane Goodall so aptly stated, “Each and every animal on earth has as much right to be here as you and me.” To totally disregard the safety of an entire species, like whales, is abhorrent. And that’s the one problem with this book – it leaves one with very little respect for the U.S. Navy and their utter disregard for the oceans and the creatures they should be stewards of – not destroyers of. It’s my understanding that their methods and approach to dealing with these matters have changed somewhat, but it will remain to be seen if they actually walk their talk.

Yes, having grown up and lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I am particularly fond of whales, marine life in general, and water. I am horrified at the tons of toxic debris the Navy has dumped into the ocean and the fact that they used to use orcas for target practice. It’s almost unbelievable, quite frankly, that any civilized person with a brain and a heart would do such things. But apparently they had neither. Do they now? I can see that the Navy has an extremely difficult job, but when marine animals and oceans are destroyed for the sake of of “war practice,” there’s seriously bad judgment.

Unfortunately, it appears as though we currently have a president who has little to no interest in environmental issues. This appears to have been true during the Bush presidency also. Trump did sign the Save Our Seas document, however…so who knows.

Finally, Ken Balcomb was/and is a very dedicated, unswerving individual and is a legendary scholar of the beaked whale and the orca. IMO, however,  the author revealed more about Ken’s personal life than was necessary. Maybe Ken was okay with this. Maybe not.

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A Lot of Whitewashing When it Comes to Whales

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Photo by John Boyd

It’s difficult to read “Information about Whales Held in Captivity Helps Wild Orcas” by Gene Johnson, published April 22, and not shake one’s head in disbelief. Although Johnson’s article is well-written and informative, it appears to be an attempt by Sea World to cultivate good public relations and justify keeping orcas captive.

Basically, orcas were captured and put into super-sized swimming pools to amuse spectators and enrich Sea World owners. It’s well documented that many orcas died in the attempt to capture them. Babies were separated from their mothers. Family groups were broken up. Because of being captured, the native orca population of the Salish Sea experienced a tremendous blow from which it has never recovered, and possibly never will. The whales are now in critical decline and due to their capture and other human factors and interference we may see these incredible whales become extinct.

The orca is a highly intelligent mammal. These whales communicate with each other; in the wild they navigate using sonar; they have extremely close family ties; they feel pain and THEY ARE SELF-AWARE.

Almost NO ORCAS live beyond the age of 30 in captivity; even orcas born into captivity due to Sea World’s captive breeding program die prematurely – if they survive birth at all. In the wild these amazing mammals can live to be up to 80-years of age. To say, however, that the testing done on these captive orcas was done to help wild orcas is pure poppycock. If blood tests of captive orcas were taken for the past 20 years, why is it only NOW that Sea World is sharing test results, despite being asked for information many times in the past.

Indeed, it took public pressure and lawsuits to stop Sea World from breeding orcas and capturing them in the wild. Thank goodness for that.  Supposedly the whales are now used to provide “more educational experiences where guests can still enjoy and marvel at the majesty and power of the whales.” Can all that be seen in a super-sized prison of a swimming pool? Really?

There is a call for orcas held in captivity to be put into marine preserves where they can be in a more natural environment. Many orcas might then be able to transition to the wild. Of course, Sea World claims the marine sanctuaries are just ocean pens, as though their swimming pools are a better environment for a whale that’s considered to be the prime predator of the oceans. Shame.

It’s also quite shameful for Sea World’s vice president to claim, “Our stance is to do research with our animals to try to help this population now, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why I got into what I do – to try to help animals in the wild.”  Really? It seems pretty obvious that whales have been big money for Sea World. To claim that Sea World is doing this out of the goodness of their heart is hard to swallow considering that some of the captive whales become so frustrated they have  killed trainers (something they never do in the wild); frustrated orcas beat their heads against the side of the pool; they grind their teeth to nubs…

When Robeck says, “It’s an example of how we are dedicated to participating in the well-being of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest and around the world, and how research with our animals is vital in answering some of these questions about how to address the needs of animals in the wild,” it’s stunning that he does not begin to acknowledge the horror of what they have done, and are doing, to the many orcas they’ve held in captivity. How to address their needs? Don’t capture them and hold them prisoner!

What more can be said? These animals do not belong in swimming pools. Sea World’s actions with orcas are prime examples of appalling animal cruelty.

(Read more about whales and the Southern Resident Pod in  Saving Our Oceans. Available after May 15 on Amazon)

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