Yahoo! Profits from the Killing of Whales and Dolphins
Hundreds of whale products are being offered for sale on the Japanese website of Internet search engine company Yahoo!, according to a new report.
Killing for Commerce, released June 6 by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), in conjunction with Humane Society International (HSI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), details how Yahoo! Japan facilitates the sale of whale meat in Japan and how parent company Yahoo!, based in the U.S., profits from the sales of products made from endangered whales.
EIA tests also have produced evidence that products derived from dolphin are also sold.
“Yahoo! continues to ignore international outrage over the sale of whale and dolphin products via its Japanese website, even as it continues to profit from the slaughter of whales and dolphins,” said EIA senior campaigner Clare Perry.
Although Yahoo! has banned the sale of endangered and protected species from all other Yahoo! sites, EIA, HSI and NRDC are deeply concerned that the company has made no significant effort to persuade its Japanese subsidiary to end the sale of whale and dolphin products.
The report shows how Yahoo! Japan was in March found to be offering 249 whale products, including sashimi, bacon and canned whale meat, for sale on its fee-based sales and auction sites. That’s about 100 more listings of individual products than Amazon’s Japanese website was found to be selling when it was exposed earlier this year. In response, Amazon swiftly announced a ban on all such sales.
The report also confirms that many of the products are from internationally protected great whale species including fin, sei, minke, sperm and Bryde’s whale—all of which are protected under the moratorium on commercial whaling established by the International Whaling Commission in 1986 and have the highest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In one example, despite the international trade ban, seven companies on Yahoo! Japan’s website were selling endangered fin whale imported from Iceland.
“Yahoo! should respect international laws rather than offering market access to those who want to profit from flaunting these protective agreements,” said Kitty Block, vice president of HSI.
Additionally, whale products sold via the Japanese website have been found to be harmful to human health. Previously, EIA-commissioned laboratory tests on 10 products purchased from the website confirmed dangerous levels of mercury contamination. Five of the products tested exceeded Japan’s guidelines for mercury levels in food for human consumption. One was 16 times the ‘safe’ limit.
“We appeal to Yahoo! to follow Amazon’s lead and stop the sale of all whale and dolphin products,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney for NRDC. “By selling these products, Yahoo! Japan is condoning the slaughter of internationally recognized endangered and protected species. Whale meat is not only unsafe for human consumption, but is a travesty for the biological diversity of our oceans.”
EIA and its campaign allies are calling on supporters and consumers to protest directly to Yahoo! CEO Ross Levinsohn via email and social media.
The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>