Westerns Whales and Oceans blog

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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Are Oil Producers Feeling Some Heat?

According to “Investors Pressure Oil Giants on Ocean Plastics Pollution,” by David Hasemyer (Inside Climate News)  oil magnets are beginning to feel some heat for the plastic waste they continue to create – and that “heat” also refers to climate change heat the oil industry is primarily responsible for.

Savvy “environmentally friendly” oil investors are beginning to focus on the plastic disaster created by oil producers. The disaster not only includes the mountains of plastic covering landfills, but also the plastic pollution that now kills over 1,000,000 sea birds a year, untold turtles, and countless other sea inhabitants including whales. But the damage goes further: it’s now recognized that microscopic plastic pieces are blown through the air, infecting the food we eat and the air we breathe. This should come as no surprise, though.

“Conrad Mackerron, senior vice president of As You Sow…said he was prepared for a stiff fight when his organization filed plastics-related shareholder resolutions this year with Exxon, Chevron, Phillips 66 and chemical giant DowDuPont,” according to Hasemyer’s article.

Ah! Typical move, though, when the oil producers “agreed to address the plastics issue in exchange for the investors withdrawing their formal resolutions.” Is this just another delay tactic? It’s a tactic other plastic producers are accused of using: Coca Cola, PepsiCo, etc.  Everybody is always “working on it.” Nothing seems to get done, however, but a lot of lip service. We are talking about both “gas” and “oil” producers.

One of the major issues is the ubiquitous spread of “nurdles.” Captain Charles Moore, in Plastic Ocean studied not just the large, visible plastic in the Pacific gyre, but also documented the presence of billions upon billions of nurdles in the water – the very tiny plastic items that  are used to make plastic products. These nurdles are consumed by fish, fowl, and mammals…and that indirectly includes people.

It’s a fact that plastic production is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Fracking, the act of destroying the earth and copious amounts of fresh water to extract gas from the earth, releases methane into the atmosphere. (So it’s not just cow farts that create methane gas, folks.)

Then any leaks along the trip to the destination account for more methane leakage. Finally, the manufacture of plastic feedstock creates even more methane leakage.

“The whole refining process is very greenhouse gas intensive…from the gas fields to the production end there is a huge carbon footprint to plastics,” explained Lisa Holzman, energy program manager for As You Sow. The methane release is just one of the problems with fracking – toxic fresh water pollution is as bad as the methane release. Gas, like oil, is a fossil fuel.

Water Pollution from Fracking
Photo compliments of Fractracker.org

Boycotting and banning plastic bags, bottles and straws are excellent, effective first-steps that consumers can easily take to send the message that they are fed up with the wanton trashing of the world by big oil and big chemical producing companies.

 

Early Book Release Due to High Demand

3167e-SOOpc2B2BjpegDue to a growing waiting list of people wanting a copy of Saving Our Oceans, we officially released the book May 3, instead of May 15. Buyers want to call in orders…no one seems to trust email for personal information anymore. Calling is just fine – when someone’s here to take the order.

Releasing Saving Our Oceans early is not a problem. In fact, we’re very happy to do so. We were mainly holding back because we’ve been waiting on two people to finish their reviews before we turned the book loose.

Saving Our Oceans should be available on Amazon very shortly. A signed copy can also be ordered from us directly now as we finally received several  boxes of books. And we’re offering Free Shipping to continental U.S. addresses on these early orders.

MORE NEWS: WHO GETS THE MONEY

We have officially selected two of the three 501c3 recipients for the profits earned by Saving Our Oceans.

Our first recipient is the  Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, a group working to save wild salmon runs for the sake of the salmon, but also for the sake of the Southern Resident Pod of orcas who dine on Chinook salmon almost exclusively. Many orcas in the pod are starving to death due to lack of salmon (chinook). Because of the efforts and hard work of this group, headed by Joseph Bogaard, talks and studies are now underway to explore the possibility of breaching the four Lower Snake River Dams which would allow salmon to reach their spawning grounds…and for the smolt to return to sea without being churned up in turbines. Dam removal would also help lower river water temperature. In addition, for the first time, Washington State and British Columbia will curtail commercial and sport salmon fishing in August. Maybe July too. (Gotta check that out.)

Our second recipient is the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington. The museum is visited by literally thousands of people a year. We feel very strongly that the museum’s work toward educating people about the Southern Resident Pod and whales in general is of the utmost importance. Because of the organization’s outstanding display of all things “whale” and their excellent educational programs, the museum was chosen to also be a recipient of the net proceeds from Saving Our Oceans.

We have three contenders for third recipient – extremely tough decision! There are many excellent organizations working for cleaner oceans and to save the ocean’s inhabitants. It’s difficult to single out so few when so many are worthy.

Coffield_9However, back to the real world…we do have extensive costs in getting Saving Our Oceans into print. These costs will have to be covered by the sale of books I personally have written since the proceeds from Saving Our Oceans are dedicated. My titles are Life Was a Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, a Boat, and a Big-a** Ocean (sailing memoir); The Old Folks in the Boat (rowing); and the Ben Thomas TrilogyNorthern Escape (award-winning suspense); Northern Conspiracy (Mystery);  and Death in the Desert (International Thriller).

MORE NEWS! Jere D. James, our western author,  volunteered to forfeit royalties until the cost of Saving Our Oceans is covered! Jere is the author of the popular 7-book, Jake Silver Adventures series. Jere’s books are locked and loaded with bloody mayhem and serious adventure. So, how about that for some engaging reading this summer?

Saving Our Oceans to be Released May 15

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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

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WE DID IT! The GREAT, The GOOD, The HORRID!

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Shock and exhaustion are setting in. This morning, after months of extremely intense work, I finally gave the go-ahead to upload Saving Our Oceans to the printer. It took four bar codes before our gifted cover designer, now living in Ecuador no less, was able to upload the cover. The four bar codes were my doing…couldn’t make up my mind on price…couldn’t decide if I wanted the price on the back of the book or not…couldn’t complete the metadata for the book to even get to the bar code area…couldn’t get an answer from “customer no-service”…but the book now has a bar code, and it’s official.

Hopefully the proof copy will pass scrutiny and then we’ll begin the hard part of publishing…SELLING the dang thing!

So – that’s the GREAT.

cropped wallace islandThe GOOD? Actually the Good is as great as the GREAT. Another staff member and I have been admitted to the MARINE NATURALIST TRAINING PROGRAM held in Friday Harbor, Washington, this summer. We are totally stoked! This is a perfect fit for the new direction I want to take Moonlight Mesa Associates (aka Westerns, Whales, and Oceans). The program is a full week in July. It’s perfect timing since the office here in Wickenburg is closed during Arizona’s hell-hot months. My husband and our dog Holly and I will be on our little tug enjoying every minute of summer in the Northwest. Hopefully selling books too!

The HORRID? You know the old saying, “Haste makes waste.” This is absolutely true in the publishing business. Every time we’ve rushed a book to print to meet a deadline, we’ve regretted it. Well, this saying apparently holds true for websites also. We were in such a manic state to get our WordPress website up and running after losing our 10-year-old website with another company, that we didn’t triple check things. We double-checked, but we were under so much  pressure to get the website operational, that we didn’t triple check. I strongly suspect that has hurt us. Nothing quite like a publisher who misspells.

As a result, when I finally took the time to look things over carefully, low and behold I found a plethora of errors in book descriptions. Eeeks. I’d have fired me if I could’ve. Hopefully all is fixed, but I need to go through every written word one last time to make sure.

Meanwhile, Saving Our Oceans  will be released May 15 if all goes well. When you purchase the book, keep in mind that the net proceeds from your purchase will be donated to a great cause! I know the 501c3 recipients will greatly appreciate it, and all of us at Moonlight Mesa sincerely thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready to Ride with Moonlight Mesa’s Equine Best Sellers

equine_comm2It’s nearing the time to saddle up for those of you who’ve been housebound and frozen or flooded in all winter! The storm this week will, hopefully, be the last of winter’s blasts…until November anyway.

Since they’ve not been ridden much, if at all, you might want to take it easy the first time or two you mount up. Now a seasoned horse will pick up just like the last time you rode him, but those younger horses aren’t quite as reliable.

It so happens that we have two top-selling equine books to help you out! Lee Anderson’s Developing the Art of Equine Communication is an award-winning,  rock-steady seller for us. This book is fabulous. Why?

  1. It’s not written in a highfalutin’, know-it-all manner and attitude. Lee is down-to-earth and wholesome. You’ll understand every sentence he writes.
  2. Lee not only tells you about the problems your horse may be having, but he gives a great explanation WHY your horse is doing what it’s doing. I found this element in his book to be absolutely outstanding. Once you know WHY your horse is doing some fool thing, it takes a lot of the fear out of it for you. You’ll find yourself saying, “OH! So that’s why he does that!”
  3. Lee tells you clearly and simply how to fix the problem.

Developing the Art of Equine Communication has sold from England to Australia, and it’s available in all ebook formats too. And…we’re pleased to say that Lee is coming out with another sensational equine book: The View from My Saddle. We hope to have this title available in the fall.

Muley cover But…you have a mule? No worries. A Beginner’s Guide To Owning a Mule  was our best-selling book in 2018, and it’s off to a heck of a good start in 2019.

If you’re thinking at all of buying a mule, whether you’re an experienced horseman or not, you’ll want to read this gem. It’s well worth the $12.95 price and likely will save you a lot of frustration, heartache, and maybe even butt ache too.

If you buy either book from Moonlight Mesa in April or May, you’ll get free shipping! You’ll need to email us for this special, though. And we accept all credit cards!

These books would also make fine gifts for your family members for either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day!

Just click here to contact us! Make sure to include your name and shipping address in the email. A phone number would be good too in case we need to get hold of you.  Include your card number, date of expiration, CVV number, and the zip code where the billing for this card is sent. If you’re uncomfortable sending your credit card information online, just email us your phone number and we’ll call you for your information.

Get that saddle out and cleaned up. Curry that winter coat off your critter, and let’s get ready to ride!

 

The Kill Rate is Horrible – The Solution is Simple

By now many, maybe most, people have heard of the 1,100 savagely mutilated dolphins that drifted onto France’s coast. In fact, the La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research said the dolphin bodies showed extreme levels of mutilation.

 


dead dolphin

 

There is a very common-sense solution to the issue of over-fishing and killing everything in sight, and it will quickly solve the problem of the slaughter of marine mammals like these 1,100 mutilated mammals. But France isn’t the only country familiar with dead dolphins – world-wide the number of dead dolphins and other sea life is appalling: Peru, Great Britain, France, Mumbai, Japan, the United States…the list of countries allowing this to happen is shocking. This could easily be stopped.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron, who’s having perhaps a worse time of it than even President Trump, has a strong pro-ecology stance and his slogan, “Make the Planet Great Again,” is often repeated by him and his ecology minister. It appears as though Macron’s mantra isn’t terribly effective, however, and much like the riots that rocked Paris for weeks, the dolphin massacre is arousing the ire of French citizens. It takes a vicious, cruel heart not to be alarmed and saddened by the unnecessary death of so many beautiful, harmless creatures – unless, of course, you’re a Japanese dolphin hunter in Taiji Bay.

 

So, what’s causing the untimely death of these dolphins? (And this has been happening for years.) Simply put:  net fishing. What’s causing the rapidly diminishing number of fish worldwide? Net fishing. There is absolutely no reason or excuse for these fisheries. The oceans would never run out of fish if net fishing was outlawed and fishermen had to use hook and line. If you want to have sustainable fisheries, net fishing must be eliminated. If you want to stop raping the oceans of every creature imaginable, do away with net fishing. Want to stop destroying the ocean beds? Stop net fishing.

 

The problem with net fisheries is the nets catch any and all fish that are in the net’s reach, and these are monstrous nets, some stretching one to two miles long and 10 to 50 feet high. (They can be even longer.) Most of the fish and other creatures trapped in these nets die – few are thrown back alive. In the case of the dolphins, fishermen slice the dolphins to bits so they don’t have to cut their nets.

 

We wonder why we’re running out of fish. We wonder why sea species are becoming extinct. STOP NET FISHERIES! Yearly this fishery is killing millions of fish. Scientists predict that the current rates of fishing will drive the dolphin population to extinction – the fish too.

 

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:

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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/

 

Grouping Westerns, Whales and Oceans Together is not Weird!

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Release date: May 2019

We are fervently hoping that Saving Our Oceans is close to the final editing stages. Due to our involvement with the annual mule ride we sponsor, we’re grossly behind schedule, but we  plan to pull some long days…and nights…very soon.

There are those who say that our new direction (grouping westerns, whales and oceans together)  isn’t going to work. That’s it’s weird. Makes no sense. I’m too busy to argue with them and will let time be the determiner of that. I admit that the new website (westernswhalesandoceans.com) isn’t yet exactly brimming with visitors and that we closed down our new blog temporarily due to lack of visitors, but our sales have picked up and are ahead of sales a year ago – thank goodness.

This decision to add “whales and oceans” to our “western culture” is not a business decision. It’s a moral decision. We are now part of the Ocean Foundation and have been formally accepted to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. We strongly support the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and the Orca Conservancy. We also love westerns, but westerns are mostly a greatly romanticized history of the past. Whales and oceans are a predictor of the future, which looks pretty grim right now.

I won’t get on my soapbox about the immorality of mercilessly harpooning intelligent, social mammals at this time because I’ve been on that soapbox most of the winter.

As for our western situation…an amazing number of people have been asking if our popular, reclusive author Jere D. James is ever going to write another western. We didn’t hold out much hope for quite a spell, but it looks very promising that Jere will be making a return. Whew. We need that since we’ve decided to keep our main operations in Arizona. Despite our intense interest in orcas and oceans, westerns still rate pretty high with us and most of our readers.

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Dwight Beard – A Western Icon

 

 

A New Species of Orcas? Don’t tell the Whale Killers!

(Photo by J.P. Sylvestre/NOAA)

By now most orca-addicts know that the recent rare sighting of orcas in the subantarctic area of the ocean could signify a new species. Some have heard of this mysterious orca, but very few have ever seen one of these fabled mammals.

There are photos of these orcas that date back to 1955.  A few other photos surfaced in 2005 confirming that these orcas were still alive and hadn’t been made extinct by the Japanese whale slaughter in the southern ocean.

Although an actual orca, these whales do have a different appearance than the orcas most are familiar with. For starters, they’re smaller and have a more rounded head. Most interesting, however, is the very small eye patch they have (compared to the orca eye patch most are familiar with).

Scientists are currently studying bits of whale skin nipped off by darts fired from a crossbow. The dart does no “critical” damage to the whale, and both the dart and the skin can then be retrieved from the water. A genetic analysis will determine how this new orca compares to other killer whales. (I wonder why this is necessary.)

It’s been reported that these smaller orcas are often chased off by the larger ones when both are grabbing fish from fishermen’s nets. If these new whales don’t socialize or breed with the other orcas, that could account for their differing structure and size.

There likely won’t be many whale-watching trips to see these orcas, however, since they live in the 40-50 degree area of the southern ocean. This “Roaring 40s” area is the most violent, storm-prone area in the world since there are no land masses to break up the waves…or the weather. Maybe this distant, formidable habitat will enable them to stand a chance of survival now that they’ve been found!

Can we assure them the right to continue to live harpoon free?