Westerns Whales and Oceans blog

Piracy – Every Author’s Nightmare

SGA CoverEvery author’s nightmare (one of the nightmares anyway) is to discover that his/her book has been pirated. This is far more common than people realize. And it’s not just authors who feel the pain – publishers also share in the “victimhood” of piracy.

Some countries are quite blatant about the theft of someone’s work – and I think we all have a good idea who these countries are (think India for one). And increasingly it seems that pirated books are appearing on Amazon.

When it comes to a foreign country doing the thievery, there’s really not much anyone can do about it. And when it comes to piracy on Amazon, one often feels like one is dealing with a foreign country, and not just because most of people on the other end of the line sound very “Indian”. Maybe Amazon doesn’t care because they’re too big to have to care. I doubt it’s because the company is inept – but perhaps it’s grown so unwieldy that there’s no accountability.

Case in point – many months ago J.R. Sanders, author of the outstanding Some Gave All, Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On,  contacted me about his book being sold by an Amazon seller who marketed the book as a Mass Market paperback. This book was never issued as a Mass Market paperback – it was only issued as a Trade Paperback. I ought to know – my company (Moonlight Mesa Associates) published it.

The seller (Bless R) also failed to include the book’s REGISTERED ISBN number when they advertised it on Amazon. Instead, Amazon issued the company its own ASIN number for the book. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Every book that is published and wants to be sold commercially receives its very own ISBN that identifies only that book. The publisher pays for the ISBNs. An ASIN number is Amazon’s identification number. Put it this way, an ISBN allows the book to be sold in any bookstore throughout the world. An ASIN is good only for Amazon sales.

So the seller, this Bless R, failed to post the book’s registered ISBN number. They posted the book’s cover that the author designed, advertised it incorrectly as a mass market publication, and jacked the price to $26.95 instead of the printed price of $19.95. They also listed the “paperback” as $26.95. This inability to know the difference between a trade paperback and a mass market paperback highly suggests piracy by a sham company.

Did the smarty-smurfs at Amazon notice this? Hmm? Not at all. And now that it’s been called to their attention TWICE, they said they will “look into it.”

Statistically only 35% of the population in this country reads books. Since self-publishing raised its head, there are likely millions, if not billions, of books on the market. Traditionally published authors are suffering enough already from the plethora of tripe being sold. To have their hard-earned work pirated is too much. Publishers lose money – and authors lose any royalties they might otherwise have earned from the “legitimate” sale of their work.

This is thievery, and it’s no different than any other kind of theft – stealing people’s writings, songs, artwork, photos, and ideas is as painful as having your house broken into and everything you treasure stolen. What good is it to be gifted with talent and creativity if your work is misrepresented and even ripped-off?

Beware.

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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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A Bit Disappointed, and I Missed My Mule

Whale-postcard.jpg         My summer travels and book-selling attempts for Saving Our Oceans were  slightly worse than pathetic. Although I did sell all the books I had with me, it was a LOT OF WORK. Partially this is due to my reluctance to approach conventional bookstores. The Independent stores are far more gracious and willing to take small publisher titles. Happily I picked up orders for a few of our other titles and I just sent 25 copies of Saving Our Oceans to the Friday Harbor Whale Museum yesterday. So, it’s all good.

Well, I have to confess that the Marine Naturalist Training Program I was so gung-ho about was a little bit of a let down. The presenters absolutely knew their subject matter and were very passionate about it, but too many really needed training in public speaking. (Mumble mumble) Some were okay. A few were good, but too many were inaudible.

I also wasn’t sure why some of the topics were included, to be honest. Other topics, like plastic pollution, weren’t even mentioned.

The entire program, though, was staffed by extremely nice, knowledgeable, caring people.

As of now, I seriously doubt that I’ll do the required practicum to obtain a Marine Naturalist certification. I’m feeling more and more certain to remain in Arizona and not relocate north. More about that later.

But, all that being said,  due to the program I attended I armed myself with several Marine guides and had an absolutely great time finding cool creatures and plants on my own. I will admit the training program added a lot of interesting exploring to our travels.

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Orange Ribbon Worm I discovered in a tide pool

BACK TO BUSINESS

Happily I came back to a bunch of orders for books sitting in our post office box…not so happy for those waiting for their purchases, I suppose. I’ll definitely have someone deal with mail and orders next summer.

My to-do list is so long I almost feel paralyzed.  No one else will be back until the middle of September, if then, so I have time to get myself and the business organized and ready to roll at a nice, leisurely pace.

This fall we’re looking at possibly a new cover for The Littlest Wrangler,  and getting Lee Anderson’s book, My View from the Saddle, into print asap. Also a small ebook is in the works, and due to the slowdown after a fabulous full year of sales, A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule will likely go to ebook also…maybe. Gotta think about that one. No…I just changed my mind. Not going to do that yet.

I’m glad to be home. My bed here is way more comfortable than the bed on the boat!! And I missed my mule!

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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.

Day 1: Marine Naturalist Training Program

After driving 1600 miles and meandering around the Salish Sea for six weeks, we finally claimed our reserved dock spot in Friday Harbor, Washington, where the MNTP is held twice yearly. Would this class be worth the $1000 fee I paid to attend? And would it be worth my time considering my chances of relocating to the Northwest seemed slim and slimmer due to my house in Arizona not selling?

Day 1: Today’s session was “classroom lecture” oriented. After not having sat all day listening to lectures for many years I was glad I was not a student again. The program has two days of lecture and then three days of field trips.

Today I found the talk on the Chinook fish hatchery located on Orcas Island very informative. These are NOT farmed fish filled with chemicals and antibiotics. The spawn actually go to sea for 3 to 4 years and then return.

Also, Joe Gaydos, a veterinarian who belongs to the SeaDoc Society, gave an excellent, entertaining account of Mustelids of the Salish Sea (river otters and sea otters). Joe is also involved with organizing and starting a Southern Killer Whale Health Profile Project.

Jenny Atkinson gave a nice presentation on the Southern Resident pod’s biology and culture.

Although it was a long day of being “talked at” it’s necessary to learn all of this information in order to become a Marine Naturalist volunteer.

Hours of volunteer work are also required and that will be a challenge for me to find something I can do in Arizona.

One more day of lecture and we’re off on a field trip!!

Eventually, however, I’m going to have to address the horrendous news of how Sea World had inhumanely treated the orcas. People who worked for Sea World are finally speaking out. It’s criminal.

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.