Saving Our Oceans to be Released May 15

orca photo

Just in the nick of time for summer reading, Saving Our Oceans will be released May 15. It will likely appear on Amazon a short time after that, or the book can be ordered from Moonlight Mesa Associates. You can email us here to get your signed copy.

Here’s a sneak preview:

How is it possible that the most intellectual creature to ever walk the earth is destroying its only home?

Jane Goodall

Introduction: Transformation

What began as a simple idea for a book about ocean and plastic pollution grew seriously sidetracked. In the process of researching this issue, it became very clear that ocean pollution is intricately connected to the rivers, land, and air that generously shed their pollutants into the ocean. It’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s plastic pollution comes from fresh water sources. And a mountain of evidence indicates that freshwater pollution, including drinking water that originates from rivers and aquifers, is stored in reservoirs, or is even captured as rainfall, is a much more acute problem than most people realize. It appears that there may not be any bodies of water at all that do not have plastic/toxic pollution issues, some obviously worse than others. This then accounts for the inclusion of a chapter on fresh water pollution which expanded to a chapter on potential water shortages and water wars. While some of this country is drowning in water, other parts are parched. This is true worldwide also.

Plastic pollution, both land and ocean, offered an invitation to take a closer look at the promise and disappointment of recycling. What can we do with the plastic we’re drowning in? Several possibilities are presented, but nothing yet seems to be a sure thing, although there is hope despite endless controversy on the subject.

And how can one write about ocean plastic pollution without including many people’s favorite mammal – the whale. In late 2018 a dead whale washed ashore. One can pretty much name any country where this happened, as whales have been turning up dead in what seems record numbers around the world. The necropsy revealed the whale had ingested 114 plastic bags along with flip flops, plastic cups, and other plastic debris. This shocking occurrence should have been enough to rouse the public’s ire and the plastic producers’ repentance for their prolific adulteration of the earth with their product, but it didn’t. It’s horrifying to consider the possibility that this whale represents the norm, not the exception. This, of course, brings up the dismaying situation of Washington State’s beloved Southern Resident Pod of orcas who, in addition to suffering from malnutrition, like orcas worldwide are also filled with toxins generated by PCBs and other products dumped years ago (and some fairly recently).

The whale issue is also complicated by the nations that continue to slaughter mammals who have been scientifically proven to be extraordinarily intelligent – who live in matriarchal pods for decades, who communicate and navigate with advanced sonar and oral abilities, and who, in fact, can feel pain and are self-aware. Did I mention the criminal captivity of whales? Did I mention the millions of seabirds who die every year because of plastic ingestion? What about those turtles? And the ocean inhabitants trapped in discarded nets?

By now we know that plastic does not “go away.” But it doesn’t stop with plastic. Biological waste, fertilizer runoff, and even animal excrement travel through river systems to the ocean. The items you may unthinkingly be dumping down your drain flow into a sewer system and can eventually make their way to the sea.

Finally, the “Rights of Nature” briefly found its way into this book. The Rights of Nature seems to be a movement that is not well known in this country yet. The United States, now seemingly run by lobbyists and corporations, has been resistant to adopting the philosophy that nature has rights just as much as people. Animals in general have been granted some rights, but nature itself is on its own and subject to demolition, pillage, and destruction by owners and developers. There are countries, however, like Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, India and some European countries that agree with this right. Ecuador adopted the Right of Nature into their constitution in 2008: first nation to do so.

I am not a scientist, a marine biologist, or any other highly skilled, scientifically oriented person. I have two degrees but am not particularly smarter for it. I ride a mule. I hike. I row. I like to paint. I also own a micro-sized publishing house that up until now has specialized in western publications, both fiction and nonfiction (western as in cowboy up). I have published award-winning titles, and sometimes I self-publish a book, like this one.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, a former sailor, I am one acquainted with blue water sailing, having traveled around 25,000 miles on a 34’ Cal 2-34 back in the day when people navigated using a sextant and dead-reckoning. I’ve  been acquainted with the ocean’s moods and have a respect that at times feels much more like fear. I’ve traveled the Inside Passage to Alaska, and I’ve seen a plethora of whales in my journeys. But like many others, I’ve felt stymied in trying to help remedy the dire situation facing the ocean, whales, and other sea life. I’ve fretted about these issues, chagrined at my lack of involvement. Although I’ve donated money to worthy causes, hoping my meager funds could help better these challenges, donating does not bring the same satisfaction as doing.

Then one day, when I was on my little tugboat in the Northwest enjoying my summer escape from Arizona’s heat, the death of a baby orca and the protracted grief and anguish of its mother struck a sense of sorrow I couldn’t escape. Rather than silently mourn and carry depression around, I resolved to take action of some sort – and this book is one piece of the action plan I devised. My plan is still evolving, and I’ve also included a bit of this in Saving Our Oceans, as well as simple, likely already well-known ideas for those who’d like to do something about the calamity unfolding on the planet. I still haven’t decided if my evolving ideas are audacious or just genuinely bone-headed, but for two years I’ve been wanting to move forward on a new path with my small publishing company, but I just didn’t know what or where or how. Until now.

Should you regret having purchased this book, try to mollify yourself with the thought that the net proceeds from the sale of this title will be donated to a worthy cause, such as The Orca Conservancy, The Ocean Foundation, and the Save Our Wild Salmon organization.

I know these organizations will be very grateful for your support, and I sincerely thank you.

 

R.L. (Becky) Coffield

3167e-SOOpc2B2Bjpeg

It Shouldn’t Take a Rocket Scientist…

00dca-orca2Bphoto“In response to its criticism of its treatment of killer whales, Sea World said it will build them a larger habitat. When asked for comment, killer whales said, “Hey, you know what’s a larger habitat? The ocean.”    Conan O’Brien.

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why orcas die in captivity at a relatively young age. It only takes people suffering from money-addiction to ignore the facts and not care one whit for the mammal they are tormenting and degrading.

According to National Geographic’s “Orcas don’t do well in captivity. Here’s why,” of the 70 orcas born in captivity around the world since 1977, 37 of them are dead. This number does not include the 30 that were stillborn or died in utero. Tragically, only a small handful of wild-caught orcas live past 30-years-of age. Not one captive born orca yet has lived that long. In the wild these mammals sometimes can live to 80 and beyond.

But this fact seems to escape the jailers – that they are cutting the animals’ lives short by about 50 years. It’s all about the money.

There’s plenty of evidence, and proof, that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are highly intelligent, social animals. Orcas are meant to swim great distances – often up to 40 miles a day – where they frequently dive to great depths to feed several times a day, every day. A super-sized swimming pool just doesn’t cut it. And even though some orcas are born into captivity, they are still genetically driven to do the same things that wild orcas do.

According to Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, “a primary indicator for whether a mammal will do well in captivity is how wide their range is in the wild. The broader their natural range, the less likely they are to thrive in confinement. This is the same reason some zoos have been phasing out elephant exhibits.”

An orca’s life in captivity could not have been devised to be more horrific. Orcas’ brains are highly developed when it comes to social intelligence, language (yes, language) and self-awareness. In the wild, they live most of their lives in tight-knit groups (pods). Often the males stay with their mothers for their entire lives. In captivity this social bond is ripped apart. In captivity they don’t have the opportunity to escape conflict with others or to engage in natural swimming behaviors. The animals are kept in captivity simply for people’s entertainment and other people’s bank accounts. This is wrong on so many fronts.

There’s hope that things are beginning to change, but certainly not fast enough. In 2017 California made it illegal to breed orcas. Shortly after this, Sea World announced it would be ending its captive orca breeding program. Unfortunately, a number of these animals are still kept for entertainment and continue to be treated like their personal lives have no value.

“At the federal level, Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, has repeatedly introduced a bill to phase out captive orca displays across the U.S.” I urge people to support this effort, whether Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist or Independent.

Hopefully, and it’s a wild hope, the whales remaining in captivity will be released (before they die prematurely) to a whale sanctuary project. Of course, Sea World opposes this effort, and considers the sanctuaries to be nothing but “sea cages,” as if their over-sized swimming pools were preferential. If the whales do not survive or make it in a whale sanctuary, at least they’ll have had a chance – more than Sea World can offer them.

(An even worse thought is these poor creatures being sold by Russia, who is currently holding 100 orcas and beluga whales in a “whale jail” for sale to the Chinese for their aquariums. Likely the freezing temperatures in Siberia will end up killing the mammals who are kept in tanks so small they can hardly move. It had been hoped that Vladimir Putin would have the mammals released, but this has not yet happened. It may be too late.)

Material from:

SOOpc jpeg

Coffield, R.L. Saving Our Oceans. Wickenburg: Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. May 2019. Print

Daly, Natasha. “Orcas don’t do well in captivity. Here’s why.” National Geographic,  25, March, 2019, https://www.natgeo.com/animals/2019/03/orcas-captivity-welfare/

 

Inhumane Whale Slaughter Increases

00dca-orca2BphotoImmoral. Inhumane. Inexcusable.  These may be the best words to describe the Japanese, Danes (Faroe Islands), Norwegians and  Icelanders who persist in slaughtering whales despite the IWC ban on such activity.

Even though whale meat is in sharp decline, and world opinion finds whale harpooning an act carried out by demonic, barbaric nations, Icelandic authorities, like Japanese authorities, are flexing their muscles and thumbing their noses at world opinion and the IWC’s ban on whaling.

Numerous scientific studies leave no doubt that whales are intelligent mammals who communicate with each other, navigate in ways modern military is unable to master, feel pain and anguish, and care for their young (far better than many people).

Icelandic whalers plans to kill 2000 whales over the next five-year-period, justifying such slaughter by insisting that the number of whales has increased to support a yearly kill of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales every year until 2023.

This almost matches the gut-wrenching 900 orca whales slaughtered by Russia in a one-year period.

It’s difficult to say what drives the blood-lust of nations to allow the merciless slaughter of these gentle giants to continue. World opinion is souring on these nations and this act of cruelty. Even many citizens of the offending nations find the killing of whales to be immoral and reprehensible.

Whaling countries face warranted international condemnation.  Literally tens of thousands of whales have been killed since the whaling ban was put into effect.

(This topic is covered in more detail in the forth coming Saving Our Oceans.)

SOOpc jpeg
Release date: May 2019

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.)