Friday, December 31, 2010

Yearling Right Whale Rescued

A young right whale has been rescued from entrapment in fishing gear off St. Augustine, Florida. The whale had apparently dragged the fishing gear from New England. Wonderful New Years news.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Does Cutting Nets Free Captive Dolphins?

By Hardy Jones
Executive Director,

On September 27 a European group calling themselves The Black Fish announced they had cut the nets of sea pens holding captive dolphins at Taiji, Japan. There is no indication that any of the divers who cut the nets have been apprehended by the police. Nor were any dolphins actually freed by this bold act.

Captain Paul Watson, head of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, reported to me that he has two people on the ground in Taiji and they report that none of the dolphins left the sea pens because the cuts were too small and too high. NB: Sea Shepherd had nothing to do with the net cuttings.

The overriding problem with cutting nets is that dolphins do not readily leave confinement. They are not accustomed to barriers. They do not jump over nets – something they could do easily. They don’t swim under nets. This has been seen both in captive situations and in the tuna fishery where tens of thousands of dolphins have been encircled by nets.

Taiji, a village five hours by train from Osaka, was made infamous by the academy award winning film The Cove. Fishermen at Taiji kill up to 2,000 dolphins each year and take many into captivity for sale in Japan and around Asia. Some have been sent as far as Turkey and Egypt. It’s big business. Each dolphin trained and ready to ship can be worth $150,000.

I have been working to stop the slaughter and capture of dolphins in Japan since 1979. The footage I took in 1980 of a ghastly slaughter of dolphins at Iki, Japan was broadcast around the world and led to a government shut down of that slaughter. Also in 1980, along with cinematographer Howard Hall, I went to Taiji to confront the fishermen over the capture of some 200 dolphins. We convinced the fishermen that if they killed the dolphins the film footage we would take would make them villains around the world and bring shame on Japan.

The fishermen agreed to release the dolphins. They pulled back the net that ran across the mouth of the bay where the dolphins were held. The dolphins did nothing. They would not leave. Either they were too stunned and disoriented to leave or they would not abandon podmates who were injured. Finally the fishermen positioned a motor boat at the base of the bay and began running zig-zag patterns that forced the dolphins to the mouth of the bay. Once they were clear of confinement the entire pod sprang into arching porpoise leaps and headed for the horizon. It was one of the greatest sights of my life. But they had to be scared out of the bay.

Cutting nets to free dolphins is an attractive idea. For me standing on cliffs filming the murder of dolphins in the killing bay at Taiji is agonizing. I know that reporting and filming these tragedies is important. But I have always known that if I cut the nets it would be very difficult to get the trapped dolphins to leave. In addition I would be expelled from Japan and BlueVoice would no longer be able to go to Japan to film events at Taiji and elsewhere and conduct toxicology tests on dolphin meat and the people who eat it.

Net-net, no pun intended, the action of the Black Fish led to no dolphins freed and almost certainly higher security in the area that will make outside observation more difficult. But the act also reinserted into the world news stream the dreadful events taking place at Taiji.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Dolphin Kills at Taiji Yet

According to a reporter at the Mainichi newspaper, Taiji fishermen failed to find dolphins on September 1st, but today, September 2nd they drove about 20 dolphins into Hata(ke)jiri bay - aka The Cove. They are going to sell them (not all of them) to aquariums and release those they don’t sell.

Just what this means is open to speculation. The fishermen did this last year when there were a lot of press people in Taiji. When the press left they resumed the slaughters. We are trying to determine if there are press there this year and will keep you informed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Futo Fishermen Vow to Resume Dolphin Hunt

Written by Sakae Hemmi, Elsa Nature Conservancy:
According to the Izu Shimbun, Ito Fishing Cooperative held a meeting at its Futo
Branch on August 26, inviting the media and announced that they would resume the drive hunt of dolphins this season. This came after they got information that a large pod of bottlenose dolphins was found off the coast of Shirahama in the beginning of August. And also they think it necessary to teach the skill of drive hunt of dolphins to
the next generation.

Futo was allotted 419 dolphins, including 59 bottlenose dolphins, this season.
The hunting season starts on September 1 and ends on March 31 next year.
Their plan is the same as that in 2004.—to sell dolphins to aquariums, to do scientific research and consume the meat locally.

Futo hasn’t hunt dolphins since 2005, though the fishing cooperative announced every year that they would carry out the drive hunt. In 2004 they sold 14 bottlenose dolphins to aquariums, killed 5 dolphins for research purposes and
distributed its meat for local consumption. They released one dolphin after attaching transmitters. And at least 5 dolphins died of shock.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Federal Safety Officials Blast Sea World

Federal investigators on Monday blasted SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for allowing its animal trainers to work with killer whales without adequate protection. This follows a six-month investigation into the violent drowning of a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Greenland Violates IWC. Begins Hunting Humpback Whales

by Hardy Jones

In a sad day for whales, the International Whaling Commission allocated a quota to Greenland to hunt humpback whales - a total of 27 over three years. The date specified for beginning of the hunt was October, 2010. But Greenland's Ministry of Fisheries has announced it will allow the hunt to begin immediately - mid August. This is a violation of the IWC quota.

The quota for all whales is solely granted to aboriginal peoples for aboriginal use. Greenland has violated terms of the quota by allowing whale meat to enter commercial channels. When in Nuuk, Greenland I photographed whale meat in high end restaurants and greasy spoons as well as in a supermarket.

What is particularly sad is that humpbacks are just returning to Greenlandic waters after an absence of sixty years - now to be greeted by a harpoon.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dolphins Dying at Record Rate off East Florida

By Hardy Jones

Bottlenose dolphins are dying at a record rate in Brevard and Volusia Counties on the east coast of Florida. So far this year fifty one dolphins have been found stranded. In the entire year of 2009 the corpses of 55 dolphins were recovered in the same area.

Scientists from Hubbs Sea World Research Institute report they have no clue as to what is causing this unusual mortality event (UME).

Fifteen of these dolphins were found in the Indian River Lagoon, a body of water known to have high concentration of contamination that originates in the Agricultural lands around Lake Okeechobee. Recent studies have shown dolphins from the IRL (as well as Charleston Harbor) have severely compromised immune systems.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Current Threatens to Carry Oil to Keys

A current, associated with the Gulf Stream, has been found to be carrying oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout disaster. The so-called Loop Current will move the oil southeast and towards the Florida Keys and Cuba.

BlueVoiceBreakingNews will track the oil spill, focusing on its impact on whales and dolphins. Many other excellent organizations are focusing on other areas.

We will not only cover direct impact on whales and dolphins but on the impact of toxic hydrocarbons on the long term health of these animals which are sentinels of ocean health.