Friday, November 12, 2010

Stop the Killing

     For many children, their favorite part of the aquarium is the dolphin show.  For kids, its exciting to sit in the "splash zone" and get waved to by the dolphins as they swim by.  However, to the dolphins, the shows that they are forced to do is their worst nightmare.  Routinely jumping around, swimming, and showing off their tricks may seem to be like a fun activity for the animals, but its really just unhappy work.  In the beginning of the show at the Baltimore Aquarium all of the dolphins are introduced.  Many of them have been rescued and nurtured back to health, then turned into a show dolphin.  It seems as though the aquarium is doing the dolphins a favor by saving them, bringing them back to good health, and giving them a fun activity to do.  But the dolphins should be freed as soon as they have returned to normal health.  To go from living free in the wild, to living in small tanks, forced to do unwanted activities, is not what the dolphins want at all.  As previously stated its incredibly unhealthy for the creatures to be stuck in tanks all day and not given enough room to get proper exercise.
     The dolphins that have been saved deserve to return back to their normal world and home, the ocean.  Living in tanks not only prevents them from getting enough exercise, but can make them very sick.  A few years ago, the Baltimore Aquarium was losing dolphins left and right and nobody could figure out the reasons for their abnormal deaths.  Finally, it was discovered that they water and filter noise was making them sick.  Dolphins are incredibly sensitive to their surroundings and something as small as the filter sound could kill them, as shown in this case.
     Recently I traveled to Florida and had to the chance to visit an aquarium that was dedicated to nurturing animals back to original health and and then sending them back to freedom.  The two animals that stuck with me the most were the sea turtles and of course the dolphins.  When I visited the sea turtle exhibit, there were three sea turtles in a tank the size of a kiddy pool at your local community center.  One turtle was desperately trying to climb over the edge, and escape.  My heart broke for the poor animals and I knew that they belonged in the wild and were incredibly unhappy in the small tank provided.  The next exhibit I went to was the dolphin pool.  It was located outside, and was literally a back yard pool.  It was a good size for two dolphins, but nothing compared to the ocean.  As I hung my head over the railing, I watched the two dolphins float.  I waited for them to start playing but nothing happened.  They both just floated on top of the water, pushing a little ball around with their noses, hardly moving at all.  Occasionally the one would go under water and splash his tail, but nothing like dolphins I see on the beach.
     I left the exhibit both angry and sad.  It was a wonderful the aquarium was doing for the animals, but they all needed more attention, room, and exercise.  I was sad for the animals because I knew that being stuck in tanks was depressing for them and I was angry at the aquarium for not giving the animals the proper living conditions according to their needs.  In the future, I hope to contribute to the freedom of dolphins by spreading my awareness to my fellow classmates, peers, friends and family.  I also hope to help by boycotting dolphin shows, and pretty much anything related to animals being caged or stuck in a tank.  Never again will I go to another dolphin show in my life.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mayor Sagen

     Ric O'Berry recently traveled to Taiji, Japan with the high hopes of making progress with Mayor Sagen to stop the killing of free dolphins and the selling of toxic meat.  O'Berry was hoping to end the slaughter, and find an alternative job for the Taiji dolphin fishermen so they could continue working and making money for themselves and for their families.  However, Mayor Sagen has taken back his world.  He originally promised to allow the Japanese and international media representatives the right to inform the Japanese people about the dolphin slaughter.  Recently, he has enforced severe restrictions that has taken away the Japanese and international media right to expose the information.
     Mayor Sagen has also stopped the showing of "The Cove" in Japanese theaters.  He has done everything in his power to prevent the people of Japan from learning about what goes on in The Cove.  Many people living in Japan have no knowledge that The Cove is even a real thing because the town of Taiji, Japan comes across as a dolphin loving place.  It has been discovered that Sagen has met with representatives that prevent the showing of the movie "The Cove" by threatening movie theaters and distributors.  These very same people also are working to get rid of the freedom of speech in Japan.
     Ric O'Berry was very disheartened by Mayor Sagen's actions and made the decision to leave the conference and go back to Taiji, Japan and continue his fight to free the dolphins were the atrocities are taking place.  O'Berry has made it clear that he is not partaking in the boycott of Japan because he thinks its counterproductive and will only set back the progress they have made.  He hopes to continue fighting to free the dolphins and educating the Japanese about the poison in the meat that they often consume.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Dangers of Mercury

    When most people learn about the slaughter of dolphins they wonder, why?  It's very unusual  in American culture to hear about dolphins being killed, especially inhumanly.  But that's just it.  We are the reason these innocent creatures are being killed.  When dolphins are captured they are picked through and the ones that meet the requirements are chosen and sold to large corporations such as Sea World and are used as show animals.  To most people, it comes as a shock to learn that the dolphins that are not chosen for life in a tank are brutally killed and their meat is sold, though it contains dangerous amounts of mercury.
     The dolphin meat is typically sold to local markets and bought by the town natives.  Without knowing the true dangers of mercury, the natives have continued to buy and consume the mercury contaminated meat.  In turn, Tetsuya Endo, a professor of the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, discovered that residents of Taiji, Japan have extremely high concentrations of mercury in their bodies because they have consumed the contaminated meat.
      The school systems had been given the meat for free and it was being eaten by the children, unaware of its dangers.  In the movie "The Cove" it shows two men in a town incredibly concerned about the meat being served to their kids at school.  After showing much distress about the topic, the meat was removed from all school systems and now the food is mercury free.  However, this is not the same for meat in markets.  Although the stores know that it is dangerous to sell the meat to their people, they continue to do it.  They have disguised the meat in packages that say its whale meat.  Not only do they sell the meat to their native people, but they eat the meat themselves.  Many people in the movie that were involved in protecting the business were tested for mercury poison and almost all came back positive.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sadness in The Solomon Islands and Peru

     In the Solomon Islands dolphins are legally hunted from January to March.  The fisherman capture the dolphins by forming a U-shape around a school of freely swimming dolphins and then push them towards the mangrove swamps.  Dolphins are highly sensitive to loud noises, and just like the Japanese in Taiji they create a loud noise under the water.  Because the dolphins are closed in on one side by the men in canoes, the dolphins have no other place to flee the noise except that shore.  The dolphins are so frightened by the noise so they won't even go through widely spread apart canoes because the noise is too loud and scary.  These hunts are much more unsuccessful than the hunts in Taiji, Japan, and the fishermen usually leave the water with nothing.  However, when the fishermen to catch dolphins, it is typically around one hundred.
     After the kill, most of the meat is shared between the villagers and the remainder of the meat is bartered and sold.  Dolphins teeth are very important in the Solomon culture and are used as a type of currency.  It is common to see a native wearing  dolphin teeth as jewelry, normally necklaces.  In 2003 and 2007 the fishermen exported live dolphins to large corporations such as Sea World after the ban on live exports was overturned.
     In Peru, one thousand dolphins are slaughtered annually, even though this practice was banned in 1995 due to a large increase in dolphin slaughter in the eighties and nineties. Despite the new law, the Peruvians continue to hunt and sell the meat through the black market.  Much of the dolphin meat is also sold to restaurants in Lima, Peru.  When catching the dolphins, in contrast with Taiji, Japan and the Solomon Islands, the Peruvians encircle them in the waters with nets, harpoon them, drag them on board, and then club them to death.  It can take up to five minutes for the innocent animals to die and suffer every minute of it.
    Taiji, Japan, the Solomon Islands, and Peru kill and sell dolphins and their meat without a care.  They are very influenced by the fact that big corporations, such as Sea World, are interested in buying dolphins for large amounts of money.  If "dolphin shows" were banned there would be a much smaller death rate for the dolphins and could be more easily stopped because there would be less of an incentive to kill the animals.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Killing Begins

      On September 26, 2010, Ric O'Barry reported that the Japanese government has decided to allow the dolphins slaughter to begin again. It's upsetting that the government would allow this tragedy to continue especially after learning that it has been proven that there are dangerous amounts of mercury in the dolphin meat. In the beginning months of the hunting season only fifteen dolphins were killed total. However, the hunters carried on with capturing dolphins, choosing the ones fit for selling, and then releasing the ones that were not chosen for the market back into the wild. Although the killing has begun again there is still hope for stopping it. The Japanese people are gaining more and more knowledge about the atrocities being committed and are volunteering to help out with the Save The Dolphins team. A recent Japanese activist interviewed several people on their opinion about "The Cove" and was pleasantly surprised to find out that many more people know about it than before. The Save The Dolphins team is working hard to get the Japanese version of "The Cove" distributed throughout Japan and Barack Obama is planning to visit Japan in November.  With the help of the community and government it is possible to stop this senseless murder and free the dolphins

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dangers of Captivity

      The dolphin smile is its greatest weakness.  One would think that because dolphins are always smiling that they must always be happy.  But that isn't the case at all.  Almost all dolphins in captivity suffer greatly and long to be free.  Only around 53% of dolphins survive being captured and typically die ninty days after being in captivity.  A free dolphin can live to be forty-five years old, but captured dolphins are lucky to like for two years and normally never live past five.  If a dolphin does however live past five years in captivity, it is likely that they will develop diseases such as pnuemonia, chlorine poisoning, ulcers, ect.   Dolphins are also known to go blind due to the chemicals in the pool water.  
      An average dolphin swims over forty miles a day, but dolphins in captivity are confined to small pools that give them little room to play and excersise in.  That would be like putting a person in a six by six room everyday.  Ontop of being stuck in a confined room, you are ordered around to jump in front of crowds and are forced to do tricks.  Dolphins swim for the fun of it and love surfing waves and bring free, so living in a tank that is poked and prodded at all day and being told what and when to do it can't compare to their freedom.  Because dolphins are confined to such a limited area, it isn't unusual for them swim in circles with their eyes closed or bang their head on the glass just to pass the time.  Many dolphins born in captivity rarely survive.  Therefore, so calf births aren't announced until they have survived for a certain amount of time  In many wild parks, the dolphins aren't fed until during the show so that they will perform or "work" for their food.  In the wild, a dolphin is catching wild fish which not only provides more excersise but it is healthier compared to eating dead fish.
    An easy way to get involved with freeing dolphins is not support dolphin shows of any kind, even if its just to look at dolphins in a tank.  No dolphin deserves to be taken from their home and forced into a lifestyle that isn't natural to them.   

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blood Dolphins

        In 2009, Ric O'barry starred and released his movie "The Cove," which exposed what senseless acts the Japanese have been committing in Taiji, Japan to innocent dolphins and porpoises.  The Cove reveals that the Japanese have been capturing, selling, and violently murdering these animals.  After they are killed, the dolphin meat is sold illegally and put in markets.  The meat contains a dangerous amount of mercury and can result in sickness and death if one is exposed to it too much.  The movie won an oscar and helped to teach people about the atrocities being committed and the dangers of eating dolphin meat.
     Today, Mr. O'barry has again made it his mission to stop the killing.  The hunt starts in September and goes through March and in that time over 23,000 dolphins are killed.  This September he traveled to Taiji, Japan to help prevent the slaughter from starting.  With him he brought the Japanese media.  He was lucky enough to temporarily stall the killings and he was aired on the Japanese news.  Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more than a few cameras and Ric O'barry's drive to stop the Japanese from killing because the hunt began the moment Mr. O'barry took a trip to Tokyo.
    Tune into Animal Planet every Friday night at 9 PM e/p to learn more about Ric O'barry's cause and mission on his new show, "Blood Dolphins."