Saturday, December 3, 2016

Your Dolphin Outlook for the week!

Tuesday and Wednesday were very bad for Dolphins off the coast of Taiji, Japan. Luckily for some on Tuesday, about half the pod have escaped, however, there was a large amount of dolphins that were driven towards the harbor. All in all, 25-30 Risso's dolphins slaughtered in the cove.  Then on Wednesday this week, another large pod of striped dolphins were driven from wild waters and slaughtered in #TheCove

According to the Cove Monitors on the scene there, "their will to live was strong, and several dolphins, while attempting escape, threw themselves onto the sharp, volcanic rocks. Some were dragged by their tails – alive – into the killing cove. We heard their tails slapping underneath the tarps as the waters ran red. None of the pod survived."

It is so rough to hear and whenever I see the videos, I click pause as fast as possible so i do not see any of it. I cannot watch it.

Therefore, the weekly update from #TheCove leading into the week, another pod of Risso's dolphins, including a mother and baby were slaughtered during week #13 of Taiji's drive hunts. 
In A WAPO report this week, Maisie Williams (Game Of Thrones): Stop going to dolphin shows.
In this photo released by DolphinProject, Maisie Williams monitors dolphin hunting boats in Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, central Japan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. “Game of Thrones” star Williams, 19, wants everyone to stop buying tickets to marine shows, the best way, she thinks, to stop the dolphin capture and killing in Japan. Williams spoke Friday from the small Japanese town of Taiji, made famous in “The Cove” an Oscar-winning film that documented the dolphin hunt and starred Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the “Flipper” TV series. (Lincoln O’Barry via AP) (Associated Press)

“Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams wants everyone to stop buying tickets to marine shows. She says it’s the best way to stop the capture and killings of dolphins in Japan.

“These animals travel the ocean. That’s what they explore daily. No tank will be big enough. No tank will ever be deep enough, ever be exciting enough,” she said Friday in a Skype call from the small Japanese town of Taiji, whose dolphin hunt was documented in the 2009 Oscar-winning film “The Cove.”

Williams, 19, is the latest celebrity joining the cause to save dolphins. Others include Brian May of Queen, Sting and Daryl Hannah.

She hopes her influence, especially on social media, with 4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on Twitter, will help the cause.

Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the “Flipper” TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill. He starred in “The Cove,” which depicts a pod of dolphins getting herded into an inlet and bludgeoned to death.

The ones that are killed and sold for meat are left over from the main purpose of the hunt — selling the best-looking ones to aquariums and shows.

The hunters in Taiji and their supporters have repeatedly defended the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Japanese government also defends whaling as research.

Williams, who is the global ambassador for O’Barry’s Dolphin Project campaign, said that only a handful of Taiji fishermen are benefiting from the practice and many Japanese don’t even know about Taiji.

“It’s not an attack on Japan at all, or on Taiji, or the people of Taiji,” she said. “I want to say, honestly, hand on heart, that this is not an attack on anyone in specific.”

“The Cove,” which was not widely shown in Japan, went online Friday for free viewing limited to Japan, after the Dolphin Project rebought distribution rights.

Williams said she went to the cove earlier in the day, but there was no slaughter.

During her trip, her second time in Japan, she plans to go whale-watching in Mikura Islands, south of Tokyo, where whales are protected and dolphins are often seen swimming in the wild.

“It was something that just struck a chord in my heart. And I’m a firm believer that, if there is something that you really want to stand up and fight for, then you should. And with everyone doing their own little bit for what they believe in, hopefully together we can make the world a better place,” she said of her wish to save dolphins.

And, Thanks to all of you we are closing the following Petition and Submitting it to the NOAA
Protect Spinner Dolphins from Tourist Harassment

Target: Ann Garrett, NOAA Fisheries Protected Resources Division; Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; Senator Brian Schatz; Senator Mazie Hironomore

An industry has developed in Hawaii that takes tourists out to view and swim with spinner dolphins. In doing so, some of the tours are harassing these amazing animals, and encouraging their visitors to do so as well. I know, because I saw it with my own eyes. As the captain of a dolphin tour boat, I followed the law, and gave the animals the space they need. But unfortunately, not everyone respected the animals as they should have. 

Spinner dolphins are nocturnal and need the daylight hours to recover and rest from their night-time hunts. In addition to resting they are nursing, birthing, socializing, mating and sheltering. The chronic disruption by the dolphin swim industry negatively impacts the health and fitness of individual dolphins and the strength of the pod.

In response, NOAA Fisheries is proposing new regulations under The Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) to provide local law enforcement with a more direct method of penalizing those who harass marine mammals in this way.

These rules are critically important to protect spinner dolphins! Sign my petition to help encourage NOAA and local federal leaders to support and prioritize these changes.

Share the petition to help raise awareness in the communities that see the vessels herding the dolphins endlessly day after day. This extends beyond the negligence of the captains and crews, it extends to the booking agents and advertisers. Everyone needs to know this is wrong. 

Thank you. These dolphins urgently need our help. For more information, visit NOAA Questions and Answers.

Help Protect Dolphins in Scotland From Oil Interests! 

A clear, but cold, summer evening in northern Scotland. Night is just about to fall, and the sun is hovering above the horizon in an endless northern summer sunset. Walking along the beach, there is a sudden disturbance in the water. Ripples spread and a fin, two fins, slice through the glassy sea, mere meters from the shore. All that can be heard in the stillness of the evening is the blows of breath as the animals surface, mothers, and calves in perfect synchrony. Every so often there are sudden skirmishes, chases after fish, salmon tossed into the air, and cartwheeling leaps and breaches, for seemingly no other reason that pure exhilaration.
If I were to ask you where bottlenose dolphins lived in the world, chances are you’d say Florida, the Caribbean, Australia or other such warm and sunny places.  But scenes such as these can be experienced year round in the Moray Firth, the north-eastern coast of Scotland, UK, which is home to the most northerly resident group of bottlenose dolphins in the world.

Living in waters as cold as 7oC (45o F),  approximately 200 individuals live in the area all year round. As an adaptation to the cold waters they can grow to a massive 4 meters (13 feet), and weigh up to 650 kilograms (1,400 pounds), nearly double as large and fat as their warm- water cousins. Seeing these enormous top predators feeding and playing is a breath-taking sight, and a thrill that has brought myself, and many thousands of others back year after year. Increased marketing and awareness of this stunning area of coastline, with its untouched nature and wildlife, has increased tourism. This has not only brought awareness and appreciation to this special area but has brought jobs to local people and significantly improved the economies of many small villages.
In recognition of this area’s outstanding natural beauty and importance for this unique population of dolphins, it has been awarded the highest designation under European Law: a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

You would think, in recognition of this area’s unique and untouched nature, that its rich ecosystems would be respected. You would think that such a designation as a Special Area of Conservation, would exclude the area from harmful human activities. Otherwise, what would be the point of having a conservation area?

You would have to think again.

Here, right in the middle of the most important area for the dolphins to breed and feed, a proposal is looking likely to be accepted as a place for ship-to-ship oil transfers. Leading academic Professor Paul Thompson, who has studied this dolphin population for over 25 years, and published multiple peer-reviewed journal articles on marine mammals, described the proposal as:

“The least appropriate location on the whole coast of Europe to undertake this activity.”
The Mad Proposal
But what does a proposal for a ship-to-ship oil transfer actually mean? In a nutshell, this is a proposal to transfer eight million tonnes of crude oil annually between oil tankers, anchored as close as half a mile away from a vitally important feeding ground for dolphins. By being able to do this activity at sea, the oil companies can do it more cheaply: at the expense of the environment. Aside from the obvious risk of an oil spill, which would be catastrophic for the ecosystem, up to two million tonnes of dirty water (untreated, contaminated ballast water) will be discharged directly onto the dolphins each year. In addition, the operation would cause huge amounts of underwater noise pollution, which is known to stress marine mammals such as dolphins due to their dependence on sound for communication. The activity would also release Volatile Organic Compounds, for which the effect on dolphins has never been researched.

Dolphins are still suffering from the Gulf of Maine oil spill, and severe health impacts were documented in the aftermath including lung disease and reproductive failure. The proposal claims to have addressed environmental safety concerns, but the evidence that has been put forward by independent organizations simply does not support this. With 180,000 tonnes of oil being transferred near a rocky coast in shallow waters, the possibility of a catastrophic event is not far away. Ship to ship oil transfers are not safe procedures: in 2015 there were 81 collisions between tankers undertaking transfers, and there has been 83 so far this year worldwide. Why would anyone risk this in such an area?

We know that dolphins, as long living mammals that are slow to reproduce, are vulnerable to these kinds of threats. We also know that this proposal would impact not just the dolphins, but a host of other wildlife. The area is also a Special Area of Conservation for subtidal sandbanks, which are important for fish breeding, as well as an important breeding area for seabirds, seals, and porpoises.
The opposition to this proposal has been colossal. 340 objections were raised during the consultation process, and complaints and concerns have been raised by a host of organisations, including conservation groups such as WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation), RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Aberdeen University and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, there is extremely strong local opposition to the proposal, which makes it even more outrageous that it is being pushed through. Despite multiple complaints, the Port of Cromarty Firth (who lodged the proposal) has refused to requests for a meeting, left letters unanswered, and appear to have complete disregard for the environment and the local people who love it.

What Is Being Done? 
A small group of extremely dedicated volunteers has set up ‘Cromarty Rising’, a protest group in opposition to the proposal. As well as starting a petition, spreading awareness and repeatedly filing and coordinating objections to the proposal, they now plan to mount a legal challenge if the application is not withdrawn. They have set up a crowdfunding campaign to fund the legal costs. This looks to be the best chance possible for the local people to defend their community, and defend their environment, and stand up to these big businesses.

What Can I Do? 
Please, sign this petition and consider donating to the crowdfunding website!

All your money will be put directly towards the legal costs to mount a legal challenge to this proposal. Even a tiny donation will make a huge difference, and in so doing, you would be helping safeguard an area of outstanding natural beauty and rich wildlife, for generations to come. All image source: Copyright Ecoventures, Cromarty.