Whale Wars: Why Japan can’t stop whaling


Originally posted on eats shoots 'n leaves:

A fascinating 2006 Australian documentary report on the politics of whaling, and in particular the bruising bribes and thuggery used by Japan in their desperate measures to continue the barbaric slaughter of some of the most intelligent and magnificent creatures on the planet.

We noted with particular interest that the arguments employed by Japan to counter growing international opposition to the slaughter are virtually identical to those employed by Antebellum Southerners to growing opposition to slavery.

From ABC Australia via Journeyman Pictures:

Why Japan Can’t Stop Whaling

Program notes:

Japan has long been accused of vote-buying and bribery at the International Whaling Commission. Already, through exploiting the loophole of ‘scientific research’, it has dramatically increased the number and species of whales it kills. Now, it wants to overturn the decades long ban on commercial whaling. Our offering this week uncovers just how it intends to do so. Made for…

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German travel company says no to dolphin shows


Originally posted on Don Lichterman:

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An orca swims in the Antarctic Sound. bberwyn photo.

Decision based on animal welfare concerns

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Germany’s largest travel agency and tour operator has announced that it won’t be offering any more trips to destinations that keep whales and dolphins in captivity.

TUI Deutschlandofficials made the decision after aligning themselves with an advocacy group that has highlighted just a few of the problems faced by captive cetaceans, including tiny enclosures and disruption of social structures.

TUI also cited information from the CNN documentary Blackfish, which is set to air once again on Feb. 9. The company also said it won’t offer trips to destinations that advertise swimming with dolphins, according to the German publication Die Welt.

While facilities like SeaWorld and other marine parks see themselves as good stewards of marine mammals, public pressure is growing to end the practice of showing whales…

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The Best Ocean Adventures on Oahu


Originally posted on Bucket List Publications:

Oahu Snorkeling

Oahu is filled with endless beauty around every turn and beneath every grain of sand. The perfect temperatures and friendly locals add to the attraction of this picturesque land. During my 11 day Oahu vacation, I explored the depths of the ocean floor with Reef Pirates, surfed the rolling waves that draw surfers from all over the world with Ty Gurney Surf School, and swam with the mysterious sharks that fill the deep waters with North Shore Shark Adventures. It’s this blend between serenity and aquatic adventure that truly captures my heart.

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Scientists Discover Huge ‘Bathtub Ring’ of Oil on Sea Floor from BP Spill


Scientists Discover Huge ‘Bathtub Ring’ of Oil on Sea Floor from BP Spill

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Scientists revealed more damage from the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast. And Kara Lankford, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration, slammed BP for attempting to downplay the spill’s effects on the area’s ecosystem.

 Published: October 29, 2014 | Authors: | Climate Progress | News Investigation

http://www.nationofchange.org/2014/10/29/scientists-discover-huge-bathtub-ring-oil-sea-floor-bp-spill/

This Technology Lets You Become a Dolphin TakePart


This Technology Lets You Become a Dolphin

Scientists hope to save the marine mammals with an online game that lets players get inside the mind and body of a real-life dolphin.

(Photo: Max and Haley LLC)

 

 

October 24, 2014

David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years. His third book, Death at Seaworld, was published in 2012.

Would you be more likely to save a dolphin if you could become one?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the National Aquarium in Baltimore hope so. They’ve created a new online game, I Am Dolphin, that lets players get inside the mind of a dolphin and help it swim, leap, forage for prey, and fend off predators. Players using a smartphone or pad can direct cybernetic cetaceans through the sea and watch as the animals respond to commands issued with the flick of a finger.

“It’s very hard to describe in words; you really need to play the game for yourself,” said codeveloper Omar Ahmad, director and chief engineer at Johns Hopkins’ Kata Project, part of the BLAM (Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement) Lab.

The technology behind the game was initially developed to help stroke patients regain critical motor function by providing a stimulating, fully immersive rehabilitation environment. Currently in clinical trials, the therapy lets patients put an arm in a robotic sling to maneuver a realistic but simulated dolphin on a screen.

Researchers and trainers at the National Aquarium worked with the Johns Hopkins team to develop the technology, which took about five years to complete. The game app was launched two weeks ago and is available for download in the iTunes store.

(Photo: Max and Haley LLC)

 

 

“We are not animating; we are simulating something with bones, muscles, and many complicated things,” Ahmad said. “When you play, it’s like you’re playing with a real creature in your machine, reacting to forces and acting on its own, almost. You see the subtle play-out of all the physical forces involved.”

The game allows players to look at dolphins in a completely different way by spending time inside their motor systems, Ahmad said.

Players begin with a dolphin named Bandit, who initially chases and eats fish and later must take on snapping mackerel and deadly bull sharks. Other games include a Commerson’s dolphin and a killer whale, a member of the dolphin family.

Why dolphins?

“I’ve always loved and been fascinated by them,” Ahmad said, adding that everyone on the development team—including a neuroscientist, an artist, engineers, and marine mammal experts affiliated with the National Aquarium—agreed.

“We all think it’s a very beautiful, smooth, and harmonious creature in its movement,” Ahmad said. Dolphins, he added, are also one of the few creatures that seem to be curious about humans.

The idea is to get humans more interested in helping dolphins.

(Photo: Max and Haley LLC)

 

 

“We think it’s a very powerful tool for conservation, because the emotional reality of this animal is becoming embedded in the player through this motor connection,” Ahmad said.

Diana Reiss, a marine mammal scientist and a psychology professor at New York’s Hunter College, who consulted on the project, said she hopes the game will get people to empathize with dolphins.

“We hope it will really draw people into the dolphin’s world,” Reiss said. “When you start working with it, you really do get engaged, and you do feel empathy doing these motoric movements, where you sort of become the dolphin. It creates this corresponding feeling. I was amazed.”
Reiss said that type of engagement can inspire support for conservation.

“What’s really important is giving people more than factoids,” she said. “They can read a lot and they’ll learn a lot, but that doesn’t necessarily connect with their hearts and minds. But when you start feeling like you’re this dolphin, that’s a deeper form of engagement.”

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus


Tree octopus photo
Rare photo of the elusive tree octopus

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip,) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are amphibious, spending only their early life and the period of their mating season in their ancestral aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and specialized skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming desiccated for prolonged periods of time, but given the chance they would prefer resting in pooled water…read more: http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/

BRAVE MAN! DiCaprio Donates $2 Million to Protect the Oceans


DiCaprio Donates $2 Million to Protect the Oceans

                PLEASE, READ M BLOG BEFORE:

Plastic Junk Litters our Oceans, Killing Sea Life — And it’s Getting Worse

http://wp.me/p3V5J8-mS

 

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DiCaprio has long supported environmental causes and is now putting his money where his mouth is—Oceans 5, DiCaprio’s grant, will help develop future initiatives for marine conservation.

Oceans 5, which focuses on directing philanthropic money toward marine conservation and ocean protection projects, has announced that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has donated $2 million to be used for a variety of ocean conservation projects. They include stopping overfishing by improving fisheries enforcement in Europe, the U.S. and Central America and establishing marine preserves in the Pacific Islands and the Arctic. It also is earmarked for protecting threatened sharks and furthering Antarctic conservation.

“Oceans 5 is an exciting new platform for marine conservation,” said DiCaprio. “Working together with other philanthropists, we are making smarter, more impactful investments for the future of our planet. The sad truth is that less than two percent of our oceans are fully protected. We need to change that now. My Foundation supports Oceans 5 projects that are directly improving ocean health by stopping overfishing and creating marine reserves.”

DiCaprio has a long history of supporting environmental causes and putting his money where his mouth is. He launched his foundation in 1998 and since then, it has backed efforts to protect tigers in Nepal and elephants in Africa, and donated significant amounts to ocean-related groups. DeCaprio was a featured speaker at the recent UN Climate Summit in New York City and was recently appointed a UN Messenger for Peace by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who called DiCaprio a “new voice for climate advocacy.”

According to Oceans 5 DiCaprio’s grant will help develop future initiatives as well as directly support a number of beneficiaries including a coalition of four conservation groups working to eradicate illegal fishing in the EU, three organizations working to strengthen fishery enforcement in Central and South America, a local organization working to implement the world’s fourth largest marine reserve in the central Pacific, a group of Cook Islanders working to create a marine park in an area three times larger than California, a group of organizations working on creating marine preserves in Canada, Greenland and Russia, and a coalition working on trade restrictions for endangered sharks. …

http://www.nationofchange.org/2014/10/20/dicaprio-donates-2-million-protect-oceans/

Plastic Junk Litters our Oceans, Killing Sea Life — And it’s Getting Worse


Plastic Junk Litters our Oceans, Killing Sea Life — And it’s Getting Worse

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Two masses of bits and pieces of plastic are growing larger each passing year. Most of the plastic is from North America and Asia.

The ocean may conjure up images of coral islands, gray whales and deep blue seas, but plastic junk?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a collection of debris in the North Pacific ocean – is one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans.

Captain Charles J. Moore recently returned from a six-week research trip to the patch and was “utterly shocked” by how the quantity of plastic debris – everything from hard hats to fishing nets to tires to tooth brushes — had grown since his last trip there in 2009.

“It has gotten so thick with trash that where we could formerly tow our trawl net for hours, now our collection tows have to be limited to one hour,” Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research and Education, told BillMoyers.com

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch actually has two parts — the Western Garbage Patch, near Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. It is actually two distinct collections of debris bounded by the massive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. (Image: National Geographic)

 

“It is the concentration of debris that is growing,” says Moore, who has been studying the patch for 15 years. Moore used aerial drones on his latest expedition to assess the amount of garbage in the eastern patch – which he said is about twice the size of Texas – and found that there is 100 times more plastic by weight than previously measured.

While you might think of a garbage patch as some large congealed mass whose borders are easily definable, it doesn’t quite work like that. Most of the garbage patch is made up of tiny fragments of plastic – notorious for being exceptionally slow to break down – and virtually invisible to the eye.

Scooping up trash at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Much of the debris, about 80%, comes from land-based activities in Asia and North America, according to National Geographic, the remainder comes from debris that has been dumped or lost at sea. It takes about six years for the trash from the coast of North America to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and about one year from Japan.

“The larger objects come mostly from Asia because they arrive there sooner before they can become embrittled and break into bits, which is what happens to North American debris,” Moore says.

These plastics can make the water look like a giant murky soup, intermixed with larger items such as fishing nets and buoys. On his latest trip, Moore said he came upon a floating island of such debris used in oyster aquaculture that had solid areas you could walk on.

Sea creatures get trapped in the larger pieces of debris and die. They also eat the smaller plastic bits, which is problematic because “plastic releases estrogenic compounds to everything it comes in contact with,” Moore says. As he wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed: “Hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food, ingesting toxicants that cause liver and stomach abnormalities in fish and birds, often chocking them to death.”

(Photo: Algalita)

Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of microplastic in a square kilometer (or 1.9 million bits per square mile) of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Most of the debris comes from plastic bags, caps, water bottles and Styrofoam cups.

Many in the scientific community agree that the best way to deal with these patches is to limit or eliminate our use of disposable plastics entirely. Moore encourages consumers to “refuse plastics whenever possible,” adding: “Until we shut off the flow of plastics to the sea, the newest global threat to our Antrhopocene age will only get worse.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/2014/10/16/plastic-junk-litters-oceans-killing-sea-life-getting-worse/