Sunday, August 13, 2017

Breaking News – Dolphin shows banned! Dolphin Outlook, Taiji, Japan Hunting & Killing Quota is set, Earthrace Conservation, The Dolphin Project, Captain Pete Bethune

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Pink Dolphin on slippery slope. The pink dolphin has been largely overlooked by conservation groups, despite so many issues pushing them towards extinction. Groundbreaking movie “The Cove” shone the spotlight on Taiji and the dolphin captivity industry. Endangered dolphins like the Vaquita in Mexico and Maui Dolphin in New Zealand both have ongoing awareness campaigns. The pink dolphin by contrast has received little in the way of attention.
Pink dolphin are facing multiple threats in the Amazon and elsewhere
Pink dolphin are facing multiple threats in the Amazon and elsewhere
Over the last few months we’ve been putting together a campaign to try and change this, and we’re nearly at the stage of locking in some dates and plans. We’ll get back to you shortly with details… and there will be opportunities for some volunteers on this campaign. To kick things off though, here are a few details we’ve discovered since starting this.

Pink dolphin (also called Boto, Bufeo, or Amazon River Dolphin) are found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Despite being widespread geographically, numbers have continued to drop due to a number of factors. These include:

1) They are regularly hunted and killed, and the flesh used for bait to catch a form of catfish called “piracatinga”. According to local fishermen, the dolphin is by far the best bait to use.

2) Over fishing has caused increased competition between dolphin and fishermen. Dolphin will often target fish in nets, sometimes getting entangled and dying. Dolphin can also cause damage to the fishing gear, upsetting fishermen who see them as a pest to be eradicated.

3) Hydro dams along rivers such as the Amazon have locked the dolphin into smaller areas, limiting breeding options and reducing their ability to seasonally migrate as conditions vary.

4) Habitat loss due to deforestation, especially along the Amazon. Also increased populations of man into what historically have been dense jungles further reduces suitable habitat where the dolphin may live.

5) There are various superstitious surrounding the dolphin which can see them hunted. One claims the pink dolphin turn into a rapist at night. Another one says dolphin parts such as the eyes and genitalia have special or magical properties.
Pink dolphin are increasingly hunted for catfish bait
Pink dolphin are increasingly hunted for catfish bait
The end result of all this is the pink dolphin has many threats and few friends right now. We’re working hard on a campaign to bring some attention to these amazing animals. Will keep ya posted once we get more details on the upcoming campaign anyway.

Breaking News – Dolphin shows banned. I was most surprised to hear that Mexico City has just banned Dolphinariums. Or more specifically, they have banned dolphins being used for public spectacle, entertainment, therapy sessions, scientific investigation, training and education. Head of the Environmental Commission, Xavier López Adame, proposed the new law, and it has just been signed off by the Legislative Assembly. It imposes, among other things, fines up to US$16,000 for companies breaching the new law.
This Six Flags Amusement Park is to close its Dolphin Shows in Mexico
This Six Flags Amusement Park is to close its Dolphin Shows in Mexico
The number of Parks in Mexico that may soon face fines is significant. While there are just a few high profile facilities like Six Flags Amusement Parks, there is a large number of smaller facilities offering lucrative “Swim with Dolphin” and “Therapy Dolphin” sessions. Many of the smaller facilities are boutique tourist resorts and hotels, and they all have to abide by the new law. Only a few facilities in Mexico actually have the necessary permits, and they have been given 3 months from when the law was passed to comply.

But this is the bit that worries me. What happens to the dolphins? According to the new law, all captive dolphins must be moved to facilities where they have adequate space, and are not subject to abuse or harassment. Of course these companies have neglected the well-being of their dolphins for decades, and their opinion on what adequate space refers to I would suggest is well short of what it should be. Long term the real answer here is for them to be moved to Sea pens for eventual release. Which of course costs money.

Here’s another thought. Dolphin Discovery Group, who control around 40% of the Mexican Dolphin Show market, and with 16 Dolphinariums spread across the the Caribbean, USA and Mexico, it may be sorely tempted to simply ship the animals to other facilities unaffected by the new law. It is early days though, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I applaud Mexico for taking this step. In many ways there is an opportunity here for companies to do the right thing and work towards a genuine rehabilitation and release program, perhaps funded jointly. And it will be great to see other countries following Mexico’s lead. Holy cow – Imagine if we could get the USA to do this…
"Swim With Dolphin" and Dolphin Therapy Sessions" will thankfully be outlawed in Mexico
“Swim With Dolphin” and Dolphin Therapy Sessions” will thankfully be outlawed in Mexico. We’ve just completed a 2m model of the MV Earthrace-2. It certainly helps put this amazing boat in perspective. At 3 stories high and 60m (195 ft) long, she is going to be a real beast. I’ll be using the model in sponsor meetings, and perhaps taking it along to any talks that I give. Also if we have any trade shows or exhibitions I’ll put her on display. At the moment it’s being shipped to Abu Dhabi.
Technically its the second model made. Our Naval Architects, LOMOcean Design, built an earlier model that was used for tank testing. This was run in a controlled lab in Melbourne and pushed through water at various speeds. It means when the final vessel is launched, we’ll have a better idea on fuel consumption and performance.
Access to the vessel is via platform on each sponson
Access to the vessel is via platform on each sponson
Helipad on the back deck is intended for our Schiebel S100 Drone.  But at a push you could pop a chopper down here..
Helipad on the back deck is intended for our Schiebel S100 Drone. But at a push you could pop a chopper down here.