Score 1.5 for the Whales

Iceland has announced it will not slaughter whales this year!

Iceland has given up whaling in the past also, but always resumed after a year’s hiatus. Will they do so again? One year at a time, right?

Several reasons were offered for the whaling hiatus – one reason being the lucrative, booming whale watching business. Whale consumption is also down among Icelanders, and there was a suggestion about a permit not being applied for in time.

Unfortunately, this good news is offset by Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling starting. July 1.

Finally, Russia has made good and freed 2 orcas and 6 beluga whales that had been held in captivity in tiny holding tanks for months. Unfortunately, they didn’t ease the whales back to their environment by placing them in a sanctuary for a short time to help them readjust, but instead plunked them down into the ocean.

If the orcas cannot locate their original pod it’s possible they may die. Upon delivery one beluga looked to have been injured.

But the whales at least have a chance to survive in freedom – certainly better than a Russian jail enclosure, a Chinese marine park, or Sea World’s swimming pool.

Aquifers Around the World Are Going Dry

India’s 6th largest city is struggling with a depleted aquifer, and it is far from being alone. Despite the cataclysmic amount of rainfall parts of this country received this year (and many areas are still getting deluged) depleted aquifers are a serious threat worldwide.

According to Saving Our Oceans, there are 37 major aquifers on the planet. Of this number, 21 are on the verge of collapse. Beijing, Singapore, and Mexico City are literally sinking. Closer to home, El Paso Texas is now preparing for “toilet to tap” potable water due to the Hueco Bolson aquifer potentially running dry by 2025.

The technology already exists to treat human wastewater to drinking water standards, but for obvious reasons doing so has a poor public image. Other areas do this, however, and no one has ever gotten sick from the treated water.

In the mid-west which has one of the world’s largest aquifers, the Ogallala, a third of this aquifer’s water was used in only 30 years, largely by farmers withdrawing water at an unsustainable rate. California’s Central Valley aquifer is also showing signs of depletion.

And in southeast Arizona large corporations have bought up thousands of acres of land, drilled countless wells and are “groundwater mining,” withdrawing water far faster than it can be replenished.

Agriculture in general uses about 70% of water withdrawn from aquifers.

One rainy or snowy winter does not solve years of overuse. It can take decades for an aquifer to recharge.

You can read much more about this topic along with stunning information about fresh water contamination in Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield.

To quote Ben Franklin: When the well is dry we learn the worth of water.

“Thousands have lived without love, none without water.” W.H. Auden

The New York Times ran an article May 21, 2019, reporting on the polluted drinking water in many parts of California. Two states so far, California and Michigan, have confessed that some populated areas in these states have water polluted to the point of being undrinkable. Every state could likely say the same.

According to Saving Our Oceans by R.L. Coffield, the list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.”

“Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”

Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”

Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”

Example: “Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”

Photo by NRDC.ORG

Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.

These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons traveling downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a gross amount of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the world’s second largest dead zone – 8,700 square miles.

There are other “more modern” examples of toxin pollution, such as PFOS and PFOAS (forever chemicals are found in the blood of more than 99 per cent of Americans) along with radioactive waste. By the time one reads about Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating bacteria found in water) and vibrio vulnificus (flesh-eating bacteria found in food and water) the idea of a house-hold water filter begins to sound necessary and the cost quite reasonable.

There are many “natural” sources of water contamination also. Trevor Nace, a science writer, describes the “Nine Deadliest Rocks and Minerals on Earth” (Forbes). Sometimes these rocks and minerals are water soluble and can leach into water. Others, like arsenic, a rather common toxin, comes from water flowing through arsenic rich rocks and soil. Some areas experience quite a bit of arsenic in the water which is why well owners especially in these areas should have their water checked regularly. Not all well owners are aware of this, unfortunately. And just because a neighbor’s well water tests fine, doesn’t mean the next door neighbor’s well will.

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Now available

Captivity Kills

download    Our attention to animal cruelty is often limited. We primarily focus on dogs and horses – maybe cats. We might stress over elephants being mercilessly slaughtered for their tusks, but that’s happening in Africa, too far away to really ensnare our deepest feelings.

PETA keeps us informed of vicious farm workers who brutalize cows, pigs, and chickens, causing some to become vegetarians for humanitarian reasons. But basically, in this country we are probably moved the most by the wrong done to dogs and horses. However, the number of people worldwide who are concerned about the brutality done to whales and dolphins is escalating dramatically.

Not everyone realizes that the killer whale (orca) is actually a very, very large dolphin. So when we fume over the slaughter of whales by the Japanese, the Icelanders, the Faroe Island whale hunters, we tend to forget about the merciless slaughter, sale, and captivity of dolphins primarily by the Japanese.

Shockingly, the Japanese look to be the most brutal killers of whales and dolphins. Regularly the fishermen go on roundups of dolphins, forcing them into Taiji Bay, the notorious killing pen featured in the film The Cove. Often youngsters are separated from their mothers. Some die from shock. Many are killed by the fishermen driving a metal pin into their necks. They slaughter so many the bay runs red with their blood. This is barbarism and animal cruelty at its worst. The dolphins who are not killed are sold – the going price is around $32,000. The world is horrified, and even many Japanese citizens strongly object to this roundup and slaughter.

Who entitled these people to capture an intelligent mammal and sell it? Where is that mammal’s right to exist in its environment, free from enslavement?

Phoenix, Arizona, is the home to Dolphinaris. This desert aquarium featuring dolphins opened several years ago, despite avid protest about the stupidity and cruelty of not only imprisoning dolphins, but in keeping them in the desert. Who could possibly be surprised that four of the dolphins have already died in captivity? Only the operators of Dolphinaris are bewildered.

The last two weeks have seen the death of a young orca held captive in Orlando’s Sea World and the death of another dolphin held captive in an aquarium in Phoenix, Arizona. But don’t worry: the Sea World organization still has 20 orcas to keep them in business for a spell. Recent word is that the company that leases dolphins have taken the remaining live dolphins back from Phoenix’s Dolphinaris. Likely they’ll just send these hapless, intelligent, friendly, caring mammals to be held captive in another tank in another city. And besides, the Japanese will capture many more if these die.

 

 

 

 

 

Our attention to animal cruelty is often limited. We primarily focus on dogs and horses – maybe cats. We might stress over elephants being mercilessly slaughtered for their tusks, but that’s happening in Africa, too far away to really ensnare our deepest feelings. PETA keeps us informed of vicious farm workers who brutalize cows, pigs, and chickens causing some to become vegetarians for humanitarian reasons. But basically, in this country we are probably moved the most by the wrong done to dogs and horses. However, the number of people worldwide who are concerned about whales and dolphins is escalating dramatically.

Not everyone realizes that the killer whale (orca) is actually a very, very large dolphin. So when we fume over the slaughter of whales by the Japanese, the Icelanders, the Faroe Island whale hunters, we tend to forget about the merciless slaughter, sale, and captivity of dolphins primarily by the Japanese.

The Japanese look to be the most brutal killers of whales and dolphins. Regularly the fishermen go on roundups of dolphins, forcing them into Taiji Bay, the notorious killing pen featured in the film The Cove. Often youngsters are separated from their mothers. Some die from shock. Many are killed by the fishermen driving a metal pin into their necks. They slaughter so many the bay runs red with their blood. This is barbarism and animal cruelty at its worst. The dolphins who are not killed are sold – the going price is around $32,000.

Who entitled these people to capture an intelligent mammal and sell it? Where is that mammal’s right to exist in its environment, free from enslavement?

Phoenix, Arizona, is the home to Dolphinaris. This desert aquarium featuring dolphins opened several years ago, despite avid protest about the stupidity and cruelty of not only imprisoning dolphins in a tank, but in keeping them in the desert. Who could possibly be surprised that four of the dolphins have already died in captivity? Only the operators of Dolphinaris are bewildered.

The last two weeks have seen the death of a young orca held captive in a tank in Orlando’s Sea World and the death of another dolphin held captive in an aquarium in Phoenix, Arizona. But don’t worry: the Sea World organization still has 20 orcas to keep them in business for a spell. Recent word is that the company that leases dolphins have taken the remaining live dolphins back from Phoenix’s Dolphinaris. Likely they’ll just send these hapless, intelligent, friendly, caring mammals to be held captive in another tank in another city. And besides, the Japanese will capture many more if these die.

 

 

 

 

 

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.)