Most people throughout the world love and respect dolphins. There are only a few places in the world where these beloved creatures are captured and slaughtered, places like Japan, the Danish Faroe Island, Greenland, the Solomon Islands and a few islands in the Caribbean like St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Only in Taiji, Japan however is the slaughter of dolphins linked directly to the worldwide marine aquarium industry.
In 2009, The Cove, a film about the dolphin slaughter received the Academy Award for best documentary. Despite this, the massacre of these beautiful, intelligent, socially complex cetaceans has continued.
The Japanese government has taken a hard stand in defense of the thirty or so fishermen who capture and kill these dolphins. Foreigners who go to Taiji to oppose the drive are being denied entry into Japan and others are harassed by police. Japanese nationals who dare to oppose the killing are treated very harshly with threats and intimidation.
Sea Shepherd has had volunteer Cove Guardians in Taiji every day from September 1st until the end of February to make sure that the killing is never out of sight and out of mind. It is a frustrating and depressing experience for people to participate as Cove Guardians, to witness the brutality and the murder of dolphins and unable to lift a finger to stop it due to a strong policing policy that watches the movements of every person who arrives to defend the dolphins with a camera.
Now, yet another killing season is coming to an end and Sea Shepherd is calling for volunteers, supporters and dolphin lovers around the world to join us on Saturday, Feb. 13 for a the World Love for Dolphins Day.
The message that we must deliver is that to end the killing and the capture of dolphins in Taiji we need stop supporting the facilities that profit from the capture and killing.
The dolphins that are driven into the cove are inspected and the prettiest and most profitable are selected for the captivity industry and the rest are ruthlessly slaughtered for meat. It is the captivity industry that motivates the killers because one dolphin can sell for around $200,000 whereas one dolphin killed for meat brings in only a few hundred dollars.
Without the sale of captive dolphins the hunters would not be able to afford to continue this barbaric mass murder. The demand for the meat has declined dramatically because of the revelation of just how toxic dolphin meat really is. Because of this, without the captivity industry the killing will not be an affordable industry. Captivity subsidizes slaughter.
And what this means is that every man, woman and child that purchases a ticket to see dolphins perform tricks in a marine aquarium are complicit in the capture, the cruelty and the killing.
Ironically people who attend dolphin shows say they love dolphins. They love to see them in the pools and doing tricks. However they do not know or choose to deliberately not know that for every dolphin they see in the pool, hundreds of dolphins have been viciously slaughtered.
What they see in the pools are the orphans and survivors from pods where all their friends and family have been massacred for the sole purpose of enslaving them for the amusement of people.
Hundreds of dolphins are enslaved every year, their live expectancy lowered to just a few short years in captivity making money for the owners of the amusement parks pretending to be educational programs, When they die, the Taiji fishermen are only too ready to capture and kill more to satisfy the demand.
Perhaps we cannot change the entrenched position of the Japanese government, perhaps we may never touch the hearts of the Japanese dolphin killers, but we may have a chance to reach the people responsible for this tragedy—the people around the world who purchase tickets to these cruel and lethal places.
The killing of the dolphins continues because of SeaWorld, Marineland and hundreds of other dolphinariums and swim with dolphin hotel programs around the world.
We must send a message that if you purchase a ticket to watch dolphins perform or to swim with dolphins than you are the reason for the massacre of dolphins and that if people wish to end this bloody and perverse massacre they must not patronize the slave owning establishments that are selling amusement as a mask for misery, cruelty and death.
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If the ocean dies, we all die. Why?
A few people have asked me to explain just why it is that humanity will die if the ocean dies.
Billions of people depend upon the ocean for food and I'm not talking about restaurants, sushi bars and fish markets in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo or Sydney. I'm talking about extremely poor people whose lives actually depend upon catching fish.
We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga
But food being taken from the ocean is the least of the factors that will kill us.
The ocean is the life support system for the planet, providing 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and regulating climate. The ocean is also the pump that allows us to have fresh water. It is the driving force, along with the sun, of the global circulation system that transports water from the land to the sea to the atmosphere and back to the land again.
Plankton—the most important group of plants and animal species on the planet (excluding bacteria). Plankton populations have been diminished by 40 percent since 1950, yet there is now commercial exploitation by Norwegian and Japanese fishing corporations to extract millions of tons of plankton for conversion to a protein-rich animal feed.
Every year 65 billion animals are slaughtered to feed humans and some 40 percent of all the fish caught are converted to fishmeal to feed pigs, chickens, domestic salmon, fur-bearing animals and cat food. With fish populations diminishing, the corporations are looking to replace fishmeal with a plankton paste.
Is cheap fishmeal for domestic animals worth robbing the planet of our oxygen supplies?
Where does oxygen come from? Some 50 percent comes from the forest that we are rapidly cutting down. The rest comes from the sea.
Some of this oxygen is produced by seaweeds and sea grasses, but the vast majority of the oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, microscopic single-celled organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. These tiny creatures live at the surface layer of the ocean (and in lakes and rivers) and form the very base of the aquatic food chain.
During photosynthesis, phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from sea water and release oxygen. The carbon becomes part of their bodies.
Providing oxygen and sequestering carbon dioxide is the major contribution of plankton, along with forming the foundation for the entire oceanic food chain.
The fish- and animal-killing industries are robbing the seas of oxygen production for short-term profits.
This is one of the things that most likely will not be discussed at the climate change conference in Paris in two months.
Other factors diminishing plankton are acidification from excessive carbon dioxide, pollution, habitat destruction and the radical diminishment of whale populations.
The whales are the primary species that fertilize the phytoplankton. For example, one blue whale defecates three tons of nitrogen and iron-rich feces a day, providing nutrients to the phytoplankton. In return the phytoplankton feed the zooplankton, the fishes and ultimately everything that lives in the sea.
In order to restore phytoplankton populations we need to restore whale populations and we need to abolish the industrialized exploitation of biodiversity in the ocean. We also need to have governments end all subsidization of commercial fishing operations.
The reality is that there are simply not enough fish in the sea to continue to feed an ever-expanding human population. It is a simple concept to understand—more humans eating fish, directly or indirectly (i.e. fishmeal), contributes to further diminishment of fish.
This diminishment means diminished supplies, resulting in increased subsidization to provide more efficient technology to extract even more of the diminishing supplies. Unless the subsidies are cut, this diminishment will result in collapse. I call this the “economics of extinction."
There must be a global moratorium on all industrialized fishing. And there must be a global cessation on the killing of whales. We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea in order to address climate change and diminishment of phytoplankton oxygen production.
Will it cost profits? Absolutely. Will it costs jobs? Absolutely. But are jobs and profits really worth destroying the planet's life support system?
Strangely, to many of the world's politicians, the answer to that question is yes.
The solutions to climate change are simple but, unfortunately, the solutions are not what anyone will be discussing in Paris in two months, at least not at the gathering of world leaders.
The solutions are:
- An end to the ecologically destructive greenhouse-gas-producing animal slaughter industry that emits more greenhouse gases annually than the entire transportation industry.
- A global moratorium on all industrialized fishing operations.
- An end to the killing of whales by anyone, anywhere for any reason.
The collapse of ocean biodiversity and the catastrophic collapse of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in the sea will cause the collapse of civilization and most likely the extinction of the human species.
And that is why when the ocean dies, we all die!
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It appears that the director of the Copenhagen Zoo, Bengt Holst, is a fan of both.
Remember Bengt Holst, the man who murdered Marius the giraffe and then had him dissected in front of a crowd of school children?
#EndTrophyHunting – there is no excuse for such barbarism in the 21st century! Please sign: https://t.co/0ZD0us3DHd pic.twitter.com/tz8ngq9zSNHe supports the killing of pilot whales in the Faroes and today he said that he supports the killing of Cecil the lion.
— Irina Tikhomirova (@IrinaGreenVoice) August 3, 2015
Not surprising from a man who killed a baby giraffe and four lions himself last year.
But what is strange is that a director of a zoo, any zoo, would support what is a blatantly illegal activity.
Cecil was a radio-collared, iconic lion who was lured out of a national park, wounded with a crossbow and tracked for 40 hours before being found, suffering in agony. He was then dispatched with a rifle by Palmer's guide. Forty hours of agony and Holst thought that was cool.
Just what is it about this crime that Bengt Holst supports? Does he support poaching a lion from a national park or using an illegal method of baiting a lion? Does he support killing an animal wearing a radio collar in the wild? Does he support killing lions with a crossbow? Does he support sloppy hunting that results in 40 hours of agony to the victim?
What we have here is a director of a major European zoo condoning poaching and unethical hunting. So it's not surprising that he condones the killing of pilot whales and dolphins, a practice that is illegal in Denmark.
In defending Palmer and the Grindadráp, Holst makes the lame excuse that the critics of the Grind and the critics of Dr. Walter Palmer are alienated from nature.
Right, this coming from a man who keeps animals in concrete, glass and steel enclosures. He actually has the audacity to suggest that Palmer, a dentist who lives in an American city is not removed from nature. Holst seems to believe that unless you're killing animals, you are alienated from nature. Read page 1
The Sea Shepherd crew he accuses of being removed from nature have far more experience in wilderness conditions than he will ever have. We have been in ice conditions off Antarctica and Labrador that would probably scare the crap out of him.
I was raised in rural Canada and I've tracked wolf hunters in the Yukon and elephant poachers in Kenya. I've kayaked up the Amazon and hiked through the wilderness of Alaska. I've tackled whalers off Siberia, seal hunters on the ice floes of Eastern Canada and shark finners off Costa Rica and this animal-killing, zoological city-dwelling bureaucrat says that it is us who are removed from nature.
We all knew that Bengt Holst is a sadistic, animal-abusing, insensitive creature, completely devoid of empathy and compassion, but now we know he is also an advocate of poaching wildlife from national parks.
It's amazing really. The only other person to publicly support Dr. Walter Palmer is another animal-killing maniac and that's Ted Nugent.
Dr. Walter Palmer may be the most hated man in America and Zimbabwe, but now he has these two fans, one in Michigan and the other in Denmark. Having fans like these guys is simply tossing more crap onto his already completely destroyed reputation.
Denmark is rapidly getting a very bad international reputation because of the vicious Faroese massacres of pilot whales and dolphins and now Bengt Holst could not resist opening his mouth and contributing his own insensitive opinions to further tarnish the view of Denmark.
Captain Paul Watson: The Danish Giraffe Killer Applauds the American Lion Killer http://t.co/BbIrfWNYJs #CecilTheLion pic.twitter.com/1eGlKYqBsJ
— Quad Finn (@QuadSeaShepherd) July 31, 2015
Holst also said that people should not be giving animals names, like Marius—the giraffe he killed—or Cecil the lion. Who is Bengt Holst to dictate to the world that animals cannot have names? That in itself is an extremely arrogant statement. Holst wants us all to view animals the way he views them, as commodities to be displayed, abused, killed, eaten or stuffed and stuck on the walls of some nimrod's man cave.
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For everyone who cares about the lives of pilot whales and dolphins, I am happy to say that Sea Shepherd's Operation Sleppid Grindini campaign is being well received by the international media and has gone viral on social media. On Monday, I did a national news interview in France and later spoke to Russian television. Over the last few days, the story of the slaughter of the pilot whales has been carried throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North and South America. There is increasing global awareness and we have no intention of allowing the world to forget the horror of the Grind.
We need to keep the pressure on. More Sea Shepherd volunteers may be arrested, more boats may be seized, but what is at stake here are the lives of intelligent, self-aware, beautiful, socially complex, living, feeling and sentient beings.
With this obscene abomination they call the Grindadráp (the murder of whales), the Faroese whalers disgrace not only Denmark, but all of humanity. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd/Mayk Wendt
They deserve the risks we must take and the sacrifices we must endure to stop this carnage.
Our enemies, the whale killers, have absolutely no comprehension of the empathy we hold in our hearts for these pilot whales and dolphins. They have no understanding of the risks we have taken and why we have taken such risks to defend life in the sea. They dismiss us, they laugh at us and they seek to hobble us with discriminatory laws and to hamstring us with arrest and seizures.
They simply have no idea of the passion that motivates our actions and our commitment to the aggressive non-violent defense of life and diversity.
Their lack of understanding is seen in their constant accusations that Sea Shepherd opposes the Grind for profit—a ludicrous charge, but understandable because people who do not comprehend compassion tend to place value only on money. Sea Shepherd volunteers do not do what they do for money, but this is a concept alien to people whose hearts are gilded with the lust for gold. They see value only in the things they understand.
Does Sea Shepherd raise money from the public? Of course, how else could ships and campaigns be financed? However the money received is given voluntarily by compassionate people, unlike the subsidies given to the Faroese by European taxpayers who have no say in where their tax dollars go and most of whom are angry that they are unwillingly helping to support a cruel slaughter of whales that is illegal under the regulations of the European Union.
The Faroese try to cast themselves as the victims, constantly saying they kill the whales for meat and thus implying that they depend upon this slaughter for survival when nothing could be further from the truth. The Faroese enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. They have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. They have an industrialized fishing fleet, salmon farms and sheep and they trade these commodities for all the benefits of a materialistic society. They want for absolutely nothing, except for their insatiable lust for blood.
They kill whales because they like to kill whales and they want the support of Danish subsidies and the Danish Navy to back up something that is illegal under the laws of Denmark—and the Danes are doing exactly that.
And that is the reason that Sea Shepherd has decided to focus on Denmark.
For the Danes to say this has nothing to do with Denmark is untrue.
Danish warships are defending the hunt with two warships including a frigate, helicopters, small boats and hundreds of sailors, at an enormous cost to Danish and European taxpayers. The Danish Prime Minister has a Faroese wife. The Royal Family says nothing. And not one word of criticism from a single Danish Member of Parliament. These facts speak for themselves.
The Grind is just as much a Danish issue as it is a Faroese issue.
Danish complicity is something new. There was no Danish intervention in the years prior to 2014. They did not send their warships in the past. They are doing so now.
Whaling industry claim a whale dies within mins. Truth is it can last for over an hour… https://t.co/BczzjDoLqr Pls RT! #UltimateDeathScene
— Captain Paul Watson (@CaptPaulWatson) July 29, 2015
This translation from a Faroese newspaper yesterday demonstrates that the Faroese and the Danes are concerned about Sea Shepherd's focus on Denmark:
“Sea Shepherd moves the grindadráp to Denmark. According to parliament member Sjúrdur Skaale (he is one of the two Faroese seats in the Danish parliament), Sea Shepherd has put great pressure on parliament members to stand up against the Faroese. Sea Shepherd has been very visible during all the pilot whale kills, which have recently occurred in the Faroe Islands, whilst Sea Shepherd has been there this year. But it's not just on land, that Sea Shepherd are visible. Their plan to stop the grindadráp is so big, that they go up against Danish politicians, because these days all the Danish members of parliament, are receiving hundreds of emails from Sea Shepherd supporters, asking the parliament members to stop the grindadráp. According to parliament member Sjúrdur Skaale of Javnadarflokkinum, Sea Shepherd is attempting to put the Faroese and the Danish up against each other. Before Sea Shepherd turned against the Faroese. But now they have changed their tactics, and are also leading their attention towards Denmark.
'It is Denmark who is evil. Denmark should be boycotted. The logic is: Denmark has responsibility over the Faroese. It is Danish police. It is Danish authorities. The police are financed by Danish tax money. Because of this it's the Danish, who should stop what's happening,' says Sjúrdur Skaale about the message from Sea Shepherd. Sjúrdur Skaale says, that the email accounts of parliament members, has a very strong spam filter, which makes sure, that the parliament members don't receive unwanted emails. So he is surprised about all the emails which are now sent. Sjúrdur Skaale says, that neither him, nor the parliament members he has spoken to, has ever experienced such aggressive storms of emails ever before."
We need to keep the pressure on Denmark and the message must be that the civilized world will not tolerate this horrifically cruel and ecologically destructive slaughter.
When the beaches of the Faroes run red with blood, the world must respond with the red-hot passionate anger of outrage and disgust.
With this obscene abomination they call the Grindadráp (the murder of whales), the Faroese whalers disgrace not only Denmark, but all of humanity.
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Yesterday morning approximately 20-30 wonderful creatures were swimming in the cold Northern waters enjoying life in the company of their small family group.
It was a beautiful Monday morning; the seas were calm and the skies were blue.
Though most civilized people in the world would view this as a beautiful thing, watching a pod of these unique creatures swimming gracefully through the sea, a small group of thugs on the shore nearby gazed over the water with murderous intentions in their heart.
The call was issued to kill. The police closed the tunnels. The Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot was patrolling approximately 25 nautical miles to the south but quickly raced to the site where the whales were spotted. However, the vessel was unable to proceed through the entrance of the fjord, which was being guarded by the Danish Navy vessel Triton. The thugs were unleashed with huge hooks and sharp knives.
in the name of tradition in the Faroe Islands. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Rosie Kunneke
The pilot whales were driven to shore and massacred as the police blocked the path of any interference.
The bodies were hoisted onto the dock by a crane as each animal was disemboweled, unborn fetuses ripped from their mothers' wombs. The bodies were decapitated one by one. One supporter of the slaughter sent me a message saying, "We could show ISIS a thing or two about decapitation, you whale-loving bastards."
Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Nils Greskewitz
As the mutilations continued, Sea Shepherd volunteers were surrounded by Faroese police officers charged with the duty of preventing any interference with the slaughter.
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When it comes to causes of death, sharks are on the very bottom of the list as the leading causes.
Your chances of dying in a car, being shot in the street, being struck by lightning while playing golf, slipping in your bathtub or dying of food poisoning in a restaurant are far higher.
As for animals, dogs, elephants, ostriches, bees, mosquitoes (especially mosquitoes) horses, crocodiles, deer, moose and bears are far more likely to kill a person than a shark.
And when it really comes to causes of human mortality, no animal is more dangerous than the human animal.
So why the ridiculous hysteria about sharks?
The three main culprits are:
- The Media.
- Opportunistic politicians.
- Cowardly surfers and spear fishermen.
The media began their defamation of sharks with that abomination of a film by Stephen Spielberg called Jaws. This movie seeded dozens of B anti-shark movies and led to the inaccurate, demonizing portrayals of sharks on television.
Politicians, always quick to harness the fears of the public, seized on the hysteria as a cheap way to make themselves appear as defenders of their more gullible citizens from monsters. This form of behavior by politicians goes back to the days of dragon-slaying and even to the current crusades against wolves.
And now we have the craven bleatings of a very small minority of surfers who want the sharks wiped out so they need not worry about the fact that their boards and their behavior have a tendency to attract sharks because they tend to look like shark food, meaning seals. From the perspective of a shark under the surface, a surfer on a board most definitely looks like a seal.
Real surfers are not the problem. They understand the situation and they realize that when one ventures into the sea looking like a seal, it is wise to take precautions, like not surfing in areas at a certain time of the year or time of day when sharks are looking for a meal. Also not wearing reflecting watches, white bathing suits or boards.
As for spear fishermen. Their behavior of spearing a fish and spilling blood in the water is an automatic magnet for sharks.
The real miracle of all this is just how few shark attacks there actually are considering the tens of millions of people who surf, swim, fish and dive in the sea.
The reason for this is that sharks simply do not naturally attack human beings and most shark attacks are simply cases of mistaken identity.
And because of this, surfing and spear-fishing are actually safer than playing golf, where more golfers die each year from lightning strikes than surfers die from shark attacks.
I have swum, surfed and dove with sharks, including great whites, hammerheads, tigers, bulls and blues amongst others. I was never threatened. I have had tigers circle me, and great whites give me a curious stare, but not once did I ever feel my life was endangered.
But even if it was, I share the position that my friend Kelly Slater holds, and that is that the sea is the home of the sharks and it is not our place to invade and then to complain.
For the truth remains that sharks are essential for the health and well-being of oceanic eco-systems. We needs sharks to maintain that health and well-being, for the loss of the shark in our ocean will have very serious consequences and these consequences will negatively impact humanity.
Why has there been a slight increase in shark attacks in recent years? The reasons are many and almost all caused by humans. Western Australia ships hundreds of thousands of live sheep and cows to Asia every year and these livestock vessels pour blood, urine and feces into the waters, attracting sharks. Hundreds of bodies of dead animals are also thrown overboard. People routinely ignore warnings at beaches. And probably the most significant factor of all is that humans are depleting the ocean of fish and this is causing sharks to venture towards shore in search of food, yet even so, the number of shark attacks are remarkably low.
Most shark attacks result from human ignorance and because of the degradation of oceanic eco-systems.
It is not so much that sharks kill people. The problem is ignorant people who kill sharks that kill people.
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