Category Archives: SOS

Meow to arms: please help end annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan

(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)


Philly_Rheilly_20090525_002_DSC_0146xWe love our kitties, and we love their purrs, chuffs, quirks, psychosis and all. That is what being family is about. Much as we cannot bear the thought of being apart from family, we would not wish anyone to be separated from theirs. This is an appeal for intensely family-centred non-kitties who need help. And we’re asking kitty mums and dads because you’ve shown yourselves to be compassionate and passionate. So we’re asking you to help by doing one of the following:

  • If you don’t have time to continue reading, PLEASE GO HERE IMMEDIATELY, thank you very much
  • Otherwise, please bear with us as we explain some background and tell you our reasons for appealing to you.

By now, visitors to tec probably have an inkling that beyond the kitty snugglecore us minions purvey (or try to), we also draw attention to kitty problems and other cutsies and wildlife face, whether here or out there in the world and the help they need.

Beyond the lack of fur, watery homes, and IQ differentials (debatable to some), dolphins are one of the most kitty-like in their fiery focus on fun and food. Life seems a forever funival to dolphins, much like the swishing toy, which goes nowhere, is the kitty’s perpetual fascination. But whales and dolphins have stronger sense of family, often maintaining relationships between parents and offspring, siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles. Dolphins take it one step further, living in multi-generation family groups called pods.

So imagine what it is like for them when a whale is harpooned (often dying slowly by drowning), or dolphins herded into a cove to be slowly killed over a few days, and the survivors fished out from the carnage and sold to entertain people.

Philly_Rheilly_20090525_008_DSC_0152xWhale and dolphin killing sunders the close-knit cetacean families, and hinders the rehabilitation of whale numbers, which were hunted almost to extinction in the 1970s. For dolphins, it also feeds and fuels the public interest for dolphin entertainment shows (which feature wild-captured dolphins who, if they survive the trauma of capture and the horrors of witnessing their families being killed, usually live only another 2-3 wretched years). Dolphins are also labelled as whale meat. The public and even citizens of the whale killing nations are generally ignorant of these pathetic facts.

Us minions believe whale killing and dolphin slaughter are things that are barbaric, antiquated and have no place in modern society.

Rheilly_20090525_001_DSC_0154xHowever, there seems to be no real progress to the efforts to permanently stop the annual wanton waste of life… until the Cove this year, a documentary-movie with a message, and a noble mission.

For once, something managed to halt temporarily the annual dolphin slaughter season in Taiji, Japan. This was thanks to the intense scrutiny and interest the move generated. To the point that the Japanese media, which had never wanted to talk about the shame that is Taiji’s annual hunt, also went to Taiji and were showed the movie!

In no small part, Taiji’s discretion seemed to stem from the suspension of sister-city ties by Broomed Australia too. However, the residents of Broome did not have an easy time of it even from fellow Australians. They have bravely stood their ground… until now.

Please encourage them to continue the course – they were doing the right thing but now it could unravel because they reversed their decision!

Can there be hope for the whales and dolphins who swim in the Sea of Japan and everywhere else within the Japanese whaling fleet‘s reach? Mr Ishii and Ric O’Barry’s stories gives us hope. Mr Ishii, a dolphin fisherman who hunted dolphins as his fathers did before him, now runs a whale and dolphin watching tour outfit. Mr Ishii is not the only who has taken the brave step of speaking up and acting against something he understood to be wrong. But there is a long way to go, despite the benefits of keeping whales and dolphins alive. The Mr Ishiis and Ric O’Barrys of this world can’t do it alone. Please click here and help them.

Thank you.


(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)

Japan Taiji dolphin slaughter – good news for 1 Sep at least

How wonderful for the dolphins, at least for 1 day.

Urgent Update from Taiji: September 1, 2009, A Good Day for Dolphins
Posted by Guest Contributor on September 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

200353827-001Editor’s Note: This piece was written by guest contributor Richard O’Barry of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition.

As TakePart reported earlier this week, O’Barry is currently in Taiji, Japan with European and Japanese journalists in anticipation of the annual dolphin slaughter that usually takes place the first week of September.

Today is September 1st, the first day of the dolphin slaughter season in Japan. But when I arrived today by bus from Kansai Airport with media representatives from all over the world, the notorious Cove from the movie was empty. There were no dolphin killers in sight.

So today is a very good day for dolphins!

I vowed to be back in Taiji when the dolphin killing began. I’ve often been here alone, or accompanied by a few environmentalists. Sometimes, I was able to talk a major media organization into sending someone.

But the people of Japan never learned about the dolphin slaughter, because none of the media in Japan (with the exception of the excellent Japan Times) have ever sent reporters to the killing Cove. Until today!

… click here to continue reading

Imagine if the same were to happen for Singapore’s community cats and dogs – that celebrities and journalists take an interest in, and film pest-control round-ups of cats and dogs, citizen trapping and film the euthanesia process anmd conditions in AVA. Then maybe people will wake up and look real hard at the more humane ways in dealing with stray cats.

The need to spread the word about how Singapore deals with community cats and dogs looks to be gaining urgency, when even Town Council general managers think they are merely despatched to the AVA for “assistance“. What sort of assistance did the TC bigwigs expect from AVA? Housing grants or rights, maybe to eke out a living on some unnamed offshore island nobody cares about? Time to pull the cotton away from those blinkered eyes. Where’s the LAW?

REFERENCE

(PS: I’ve promised furry-do… no worries, it’s to come)

There be giants… and Man likes ‘em better dead

In keeping with the L-A-R-G-E swimmers (which are not limited to salties) theme of the latest posts, here’s some fantastical stuff about big fishes. While looking up bluefin info for this post, I cane across several fascinating articles about very large fishes.

Just this very month, a 20 year old kid caught the largest male mako shark on record:

300h

A Scituate man reeled in a 624-pound mako shark Thursday, possibly breaking the record for the biggest male mako ever caught, a biologist said….

… the 10-foot fish is the largest male mako shark ever to be recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, and appears to be the largest male ever caught.

“We didn’t think they got this big, basically,” ….

“When I saw the shark, I said, ‘That would be a dream to catch,’” Sears recounted.

shark082809It’s fantastic to know that there are still such magnificent specimens in our collapsing ocean ecologies. That science is getting new information and we learn a bit more about these little-understood sharks, but does it warrant turning the mako into fish steaks?

What is it with anglers and hunters that beautiful large living things must be possessed, conquered, preferably life snuffed out. Why the impulse to kill and destroy wonders of nature? All that matters is the self-serving dream of boasting of killing something large, something rare. (I remember news a few years about a regal giant moose with magnificent antlers in some US national park who was well-loved by visitors and park rangers; he was found dead and they found his killer because his antlers were on display in the  teenager’s backyard, a teenager who wanted to own the biggest antlers around.)

Or staking a claim in some way.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, placid plankton mowers quite apart from the frenzied killing machine image JAWS evoke.

WhaleShark1They have the largest fins of all sharks by sheer size. Inevitably, they are also coveted for that accursed Chinese dish, sharks’ fin soup. I believe their fins are known as one of the highest grade fins, tian jiu chi (fins of 9 heavens). But again, very very little is known about the whale shark itself. No one knows their reproduction cycle and young sharks smaller than 4m are impossible to sight. So the discovery of a baby shark just 15inches in length (pictured) earlier this year caused much excitement.

The sad thing about this baby’s discovery is that it was tied to a stick in the water, like a leashed dog. A hawker was apparently trying to sell it.

WhaleShark2Now that it has been rescued, let’s hope it grows up to its full potential of 9 to 14 metres and live out its natural lifespan of 60 to 100 years.

WhaleShark9I hope it doesn’t end up as fish steaks like some of its kind did, whether due to fishing net entanglement, shipping lane accidents or hunting. I certainly hope it doesn’t become an exhibit like Sammy either.

While it is the ocean giants that mesmerises, the muddy depths of freshwater rivers do plump a surprise or 3. Well-known are the Mekong’s giant catfish, Chinese sturgeon (thought to be a source of the dragon mythology), the Amazon’s Arapaimas or Pirarucu. Less well-know, and only recently certified as legitimate are giant freshwater stingrays. GiantStingray

In the world of giant swimmers, perhaps the most well-known is Wally the humphead wrasse. Or one fish named Wally did. There are multiple Wallies in the reef.  He resides in the Great Barrier Reef, an ambassador resident after being rescued from a one-way trip to a cooking pot in Hong Kong. However it is not clear whether the stay of execution is permanent or what happens should he be somehow nabbed legally by some enterprising fisherman.

Sadly, wherever they and however big they grow, megafish all face the same threats: overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, climate change. In a word, Man.

The burning question: Who gave all the covetous hunters, anglers, and gourmets of the world the right to terminate these wonders of nature for their own selfish wants and deprive the rest of the world?

くそっ、私の黒鮪刺身はどこにありますか?!

(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)


DAMN, where’s my bluefin tuna sashimi?!

くそっ、私の黒鮪刺身はどこにありますか?!

(Kusou, watashi no kuro maguro sashimi wa doko ni arimasu ka?!)

Thunnus_thynnus1

From the Mediterranean to Japan, the bluefin tuna is being fished and eaten into extinction.

There are a few species of bluefin tuna, and all of them are in danger disappearing forever.

The species in the greatest danger of slipping into extinction is the western north Atlantic population (stock) of bluefin tuna. Thanks to 4 decades of overfishing, it has been driven to just 3% of its 1960 or pre-longlining abundance – a decline of 97%…
-”Atlantic Bluefin Tuna – Severity of Decline and its Causes“, bigmarinefish.com

Bluefin tuna sashimi is a delicacy the world over, wherever fanciers of Japanese live. This is a phenomenon ignited in the 1970s, and it may soon burn out, not because of waning demand but because demand is fueling the bluefin’s road to oblivion.

The hunting of highly valued animals into oblivion is a symptom of human foolishness that many consign to the unenlightened past, like the 19th century, when bird species were wiped out for feathered hats and bison were decimated for sport. But the slaughter of the giant bluefin tuna is happening now.
- The Bluefin Slaughter, New York Times

Before it got reduced to a raw morsel of gourmet ecstasy, the bluefin is a living fish, one of the largest fish apart from sharks (sharks are soft-boned or cartilaginous, while most other fishes including the tuna are bony fish). The tuna’s fishy biology is rare, for it’s a warm-blooded fast swimming fish, the Lamborghini of the seas. Like those gas-guzzling monsters, bluefins are fantastical swimmers capable of hitting 70kmh, traversing the oceans from north to south, east to west, several times a year. They are highly evolved fish, advanced in design, with amazing navigation systems, able to locate prey with their sonar, but closing in with their large eyes. They can even dive down to almost 1000m deep. And like the supercars, these superfish have voracious appetites, requiring 25 kilos of prey to gain 1 kilo of weight. Their average lifespan is 15 – 30 years, and it takes them up to 12 years to go from puny microscopic larvae carried along by currents to sexually mature, sleek giants averaging 2m in length.

It seems like apart from growing up quickly, there’s nothing this beautiful fish can’t do, but it cannot escape extinction if people insist on eating them off the face of the earth.

Stop the gluttony: save the bluefin tuna from extinction!

大食家の貪欲を止めてください:黒鮪を絶滅から救ってください!

(taishyokuka no donyoku wo yamete kudasai: kuro maguro wo zemmei kara sukutte kudasai!)

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Tuna looks like this to most people – the beginning of sushi, the ignomy of a frozen piece of multilated meat. But it is the end of life, or a parodic prophesy of the bluefin’s future, driven by human greed and gluttony

As Prince Albert, Monaco’s ruler, wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

The forces of selfishness and stupidity that wiped out the great whales and the northern cod in the last century are steaming ahead at full speed… The bluefin tuna is as endangered as the giant panda and the white rhino.” Unless a ban is enforced almost immediately, the only examples of the species could be found in large aquariums.

Is it too pessimistic a view? It doesn’t seem to be, given this typical of the editorials on the state of things:

… what was once known as the common tunny has, over the past few decades, come to be at serious risk of extinction, thanks to overfishing driven by demand from Japan, where bluefin tuna are considered a delicacy and are used in sushi and sashimi.

Efforts to protect the species have floundered.
So long, and thanks for all the fish, Economist.com

How did it come to this?

From Horse Mackerel to Sushi

The bluefin was not always considered a delicacy. In the early 1900s the fish was known

as “horse mackerel,” and its red, strong-flavored flesh was considered suitable fare only for dogs and cats. Nevertheless, big-game fishers off New Jersey and Nova Scotia targeted the bluefin because these powerful fish were considered worthy opponents… Although swordfish were certainly considered edible, tuna and marlin were thought of as strictly objects of the hunt. The bluefin did not become valuable as a food fish until the latter half of the 20th century, when sushi began to appear on menus around the globe.
- The Bluefin Tuna in Peril, Scientific American

Yes, sport fishing is a culprit along with sushi gobblers, but the bulk of culpability lies with the sushi and sashimi lovers.

Supplying tonnes of tuna means mass fishing techniques, which are indiscriminatory about what gets snared. Non-target species like birds, turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, and other fish species become by-catch, sacrificed needlessly.

drowned-albatross… long-line fleets are fishing blind, with little or no understanding of their devastating impact on threatened species,’ says Dr Simon Cripps, Director of WWF’s Global Marine Programme. ‘Responsible countries must urgently implement measures to dramatically reduce the death toll.’ The new report exposes ten years of inaction by members of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), and calls for reform measures to be agreed at their annual meeting in Australia next week to stem the catch of endangered wildlife and reduce chronic overfishing.
Southern Bluefin Tuna fleets endanger a wide variety of wildlife, warns WWF

Take positive action before it’s too late for regrets

悔悟のために遅すぎである前に、確かな行動をとってください

(Kaigo no tame ni susugi de aru maini, tashika na koudou wo totte kudasai>

news_090623_1_fish1

Can you imagine a day where the bluefin tuna has come to the end of the line? A day where there’s no fish? Bluefins are to fishes what whales are to cetaceans.

But for the diehard fan of maguro, especially otoro, the question burning the tastebuds and churning the gastric juices in the guts must be : Is this the end of sushi?

Sushi connoisseurs tend to be obsessive folks – I know because I am one. If we think we must sacrifice good sushi to save the bluefin, we may just as well keep eating bluefin.
- Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

Old habits die hard, but what about older habits that were buried by the old habits?

The people who come to my dinners are American sushi eaters ready to experience and understand a completely authentic Japanese meal….

And guess what? There’s no bluefin on the plate. There’s no toro, no hamachi, no unagi, and no fatty salmon. None of these usual suspects of today’s global sushi business are part of the traditional sushi lineage. In fact, until just a few decades ago the Japanese considered tuna a garbage fish.

It wasn’t until after World War II, when the Japanese started eating a more Westernized diet, with red meat and fattier cuts of it, that the bluefin fad began. And it was a fad practically invented by Japanese airlines, so they could load their international flights with pricey cargo.
- Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

How do you kick an old habit, one that is harmful? By looking further back to when things were better, more sustainable.

A Japanese chef named Hajime Sato did what celebrity chef Matsuhisa has not had the wisdom to do. With the help of a seafood conservation expert named Casson Trenor, Chef Sato converted his sushi bar, Mashiko, to an entirely sustainable menu….

Sato no longer serves bluefin. And he’s thrilled. “I found probably 20 more fish that no one uses for sushi anymore,” he says. “My restaurant has so much more different fish that I can’t fit them all into the new menu.”

Sushi doesn’t need to die because the bluefin is endangered. With our help, sushi can be reborn – better than ever.
- Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

Some may point to farming as a way out. But no, it is really another farcical false hope.

It may not be  too late to do the right thing and keep the legacy meant for our future generations intact, a LIVING planet filled with the amazing bluefin and its fellow dwellers of the deep.

Yet even if the trade in bluefin tuna were to be halted completely, there would be no guarantee that the species would recover. Experience with other fisheries, such as the collapse of the cod population of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland in 1992, has shown that the dynamics of an ecosystem can change when a top predator is removed completely. Fifteen years later, the northern cod stock has not recovered.
So long, and thanks for all the fish, Economist.com

(Incidentally, the intensification of the annual Canadian seal slaughter used the cod fisheries’ collapse as its excuse. Ref  “Scientific Study – my fish!“)

Efforts to study and understand the bluefin tuna are underway. In fact, 1 scientist has said:

“To say there’s not enough science to tell us whether we need to protect the last few fish that are trying to breed on our side of the ocean, that is just nonsensical,” he said. “I believe that is illegal. The law requires better stewardship than [government officials] sitting on their hands and doing nothing.”
- Advocates Hope Science Can Save a Big Tuna, Washington Post

But we must bear in mind that even if the bluefin is saved, it still does mean we can feed the bluefin to our feckless appetites again anytime soon:

At the moment bluefin tuna has no protection under Cites, the only global body with the power to limit or ban international trade in endangered species.

If bluefin tuna are given protected status at the meeting in Qatar next March the sale of the fish on international markets would be banned although it could still be sold locally.

Such a measure would eliminate the main cause of over-fishing: the strong demand for the delicacy as sushi and sashimi in countries such as Japan and the United States.
- EU considering bluefin tuna protection

It’s not just Japan (but even Japanese think tank are urging Japanese to spare the bluefin). Bluefin tuna are missing from Danish waters since the 1960s, the annual mattanza in Sicily. In fact, it’s not just tuna that’s got problems.

No nation can claim innocence. No one. Even in tiny lawful Singapore, illegal food encounters are not unheard of.

Though there seems to be hope, this constant yo-yoing between austerity and glut cannot be good. Can we actually learn? The insidious food, inc has its claws in every aspect of the human food chain, whether on land or in the seas, and consumers are not guiltless in the concocting of this recipe for disaster. The important thing is for consumers, you and me, to realise what we’re doing (or not) with our habits, and do the right thing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Mercury Poisoning: People who eat a lot of fish may run health risk. (Latest “HOT” victim – Jeremy Piven)

Problems for Sharks and Dolphins:

All the Tuna you buy comes from wild fish, some caught using vast purse-seine nets to scoop them out of the sea, and some from lines of baited hooks many miles long. Unfortunately these methods catch many other creatures at the same time, including sharks. Longlines around New Zealand are said to have caught 450,000 blue sharks in 10 years!

And there are serious problems for Dolphins. Follow these two links to start researching them. Dolphins may be caught at the same time, or Dolphin mothers may be separated from their young.

Weekend Movie Choice: The Cove

[NOTE: Any comments in Japanese will not have any response from me. The Japanese title and section headings are to pique interest only. While I have studied Japanese, it was a long time ago - but with thanks to the internet, it was a easy task to get translations.]


(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)

Who stands up to the whale killers?

(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)


The Cove speaks about dolphins and the horrific things we do to them for our selfish ends. But it is not just the dolphins or bluefin tuna.

And now once again we are in the vast and remote Southern Oceans in search of the elusive whale killing fleet from Japan. How will we find them? The Australian government knows where they are but they’re not talking for fear of offending Japan. The United States Department of Naval Intelligence is monitoring our movements and relaying those movements to the Japanese whalers. The Japanese whalers have the full support of their government and military to track our movements. Even my old alma mater Greenpeace is not being cooperative but then again Bob Hunter and all my old shipmates who were once at the Greenpeace helm are regrettably no longer there.

From The Art of Finding Whalers, Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

281x211Sometimes uncomfortable messages need to be delivered creatively to get people thinking. The music video for the Modest Mouse song, “King Rat“, directed by the late Heath Ledger, is one such creative message. It is fascinating. Allegory brought to its perverse ultimate outcome. What is its link to whale killing? Simply this: It sums up the situation for the whales well, and is factually fiction.


Just as disturbing: Is “Pink Gold” Coming To Your Local Grocery Store Soon?

Bad news abound for the whales: Japan is the leader of the whale killing pack. Iceland, which restarted its whale slaughtering pogrom 2006, then halted it in 2007, has resumed killing whale killing in 2008. Denmark has always maintained its annual pilot whale slaughter in the Faeroe Islands, Norway has been actively killing whales, like Japan. And padawan of the Japanese whale killers:  St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines

MORE REFERENCE

- Save the whales at sea, too

- Most dolphin slaughter/capture (for aquariums and whatnots) is thought to occur in a tiny village called Taiji. Here’s links by credible and respected outfits on it:
- http://www.seashepherd.org/dolphins/sea-shepherd-in-taiji.html
- http://www.savejapandolphins.org/
- http://www.wdcs.org/stop/captivity/index.php

For ref, click here for a recent article about the link between the dolphin massacre in Japan and Swim-with-Dolphins programs in the UK.

Sadly: a fresh dolphin massacre, not in Japan, but the coasts of a country on the other side of the world, touristy Brazil

I believe the future IRs of Singapore will weigh in with their own contributions to the dolphin murders too, given their grand plans for marine-themes. And I’m certainly not happy about that.

As for eating dolphin, or eating dolphin-disguised-as-whale, click here for some facts about mercury poisoning in dolphin meat.

Regarding the oft-cited excuse that it is tradition, it’s just so much bullshit:
- http://www.seashepherd.org/editorials/editorial_060627_1.html
- local article: http://calsifer.wordpress.com/2006/06/24/today-20060624-scientific-study-my-fish/

Up-to-date whaling news can be found here. Out of that, worth a  highlight are articles related to the IWC meeting last year and this.

The gist is that Japan is buying votes on the IWC council to make it legal to commercially kill whales again. In this, it is not alone – Norway and Iceland hold up the other two axes of whale murders. Japan buys out countries like Grenada, Fiji, Carribean nations to vote with it. Holiday destinations. Japan has achieved several coup-d’tat:eg land-locked desertland, Mongolia has joined the party on Japsn’s side. To say that is very disturbing is understating the gravity of the situation.

For a list of IWC member nations, which really does comprise a few surprises, and the breakdown of the votes, view this: http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_060619_1.html

The next time people go diving, snorkelling or just hoilday in hot tourist spots, I really hope they’ll give some thought to where their tourist goes… and to send letters to trade/tour reps of Japan’s whaling-cronies and tell them exactly why these countries aren’t getting their tourist dollars while they vote with Japan on its whale murder agenda. Jut as Belize, Japanese voting crony, was reined in by a conscientious pillar of the local society in 2006. There are friends, and then there are friends.


(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)

Weekend Movie Choice: The Cove

slaughter0184_300The Cove: an evocation of peace, quiet, a secret paradise.

But this particular film, an award winning one no less, shows the world the secrets a cove in Japan harbours. It is about life and death – the blithe living of wildlife and a nonchalant greed that not only kills but destroys families in the process.

The review in TODAY sums it up well:

Director Louie Psihoyos and his team’s dangerous mission to document the slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese town is presented alongside the story of Richard O’Barry, who was the dolphin trainer for the TV show Flipper in the ’60s, and how his personal experiences with dolphins led him to crusade against keeping these mammals in captivity….

Of course, dolphin torture is only a symptom of a larger malaise: This film more or less represents all that is wrong with the world today. It’s requisite viewing for anyone with a social conscience.

Part of the movie features footage of an on-site protest by a group of surfers, including some celebrities, last October.

More review listed here.

Check out the movie’s homepage, and sign up for the campaign (bottom of the page).

ADDITIONAL REF
Captive animals in Singapore

Don’t forget the whale sharks that Resort World Sands originally intended to bring in. They are free from Resorts World now, but the IR still intends to bring in dolphins, who will not arrive under happy circumstances, despite their smiley faces.

Also, please also help Sammy, the whale shark being held captive in an integrated resort in Dubai, and whose story helped fanned support against Resort World’s plans.

Fish food

Are you a maguro otoro sashimi fan? Please read this: くそっ、私の黒鮪刺身はどこにありますか?! (DAMN, where’s my bluefin tuna sashimi?!)

Click! Social Cause

Please do help click the badgey to the right of blog posties, near the top. It’s for a cause. The bestest wordpress initiative: socialvibe

Don’t forget there’s more you can do: Click@Daily Good Deed

Horses: Blinkers in New York

Filched off Dawn’s blog.

Horses do work very hard for people… it’s a crying what we do to them. Flog a dead horse indeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blinders

I was just sent this video about horses that are used for carriage rides in New York City. Incidentally, I went by a horse show today and saw some horse rescue groups. Some of the horses were kept in such horrific conditions that they are now blind. One was tied to a stall for so long that even though it is no longer tied by its neck, apparently it doesn’t know it. You can visit the Horse rescue group at Horsenet They also have a bunch of cats on the premises, almost all of which are already sterilised..

Dubai hotel ‘must free’ whale shark from aquarium

Interesting news on the captive whale shark at the Atlantis, the same Dubai casino mentioned in the Say “NO” To Whale Sharks In Captivity petition template. How much similarity might there be in Singaporean sentiment on keeping whale sharks captive post-opening?

The Telegraph, UK

Dubai hotel ‘must free’ whale shark from aquarium

Environmentalists are calling for a hotel resort in Dubai to free a whale shark from its aquarium.

Whale shark: Dubai hotel under pressure to free captive shark
Whale sharks are an endangered species Photo: Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum, 2008

The Atlantis hotel, which opened last month, has been billed as the biggest and one of the best resorts in the country.

The 4m (13ft) whale shark can be seen circling the hotel’s aquarium – a tank built to invoke the ruins of Atlantis, the mythical Lost City.

The hotel, on the Palm Jumeirah island, originally said it had “rescued” the shark, which is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Campaigners and residents say the whale shark – named Sammy – should be released into its natural habitat.

The shark, which could grow up to 12m (39ft), was caught off the coast of Dubai six weeks ago.

The management of the hotel said they had “rescued” an animal, who was in distress, but former employees have told the local press that capturing a whale shark had always been planned as a tourist attraction.

An independent survey has shown more than a third of those questioned would be more likely to visit the resort to see it, but there is a growing swell of public opinion that the animal should be released and tagged.

The hotel has refused to comment on whether Sammy will be released.

The hotel was the first to open on The Palm, a man-made island off the coast of the United Arab Emirates that is shaped like a palm tree. It was touted as one of the emirate’s most extravagant hotels to date, featuring a water park, aquarium, 1,500 guest rooms and 16 restaurants.

The publicity surrounding Sammy is the latest in a string of problems faced by the hotel. Three weeks before the opening, a fire billowed smoke through the lobby and a week after its opening, one of its main water valves ruptured, cutting off the water supply in the hotel.

Related article:

The Telegraph, UK

Dubai’s Atlantis hotel opening marred by dolphin row

The world’s most lavish hotel has been condemned by environmentalists for shipping dolphins from the South Pacific to the Middle East to stock a marine attraction.

By Charles Starmer-Smith, Travel News Editor
Last Updated: 8:29PM GMT 20 Nov 2008

The Atlantis resort complex in Dubai
The Atlantis resort complex in Dubai where the dolphins will be kept Photo: EPA

The £950 million Atlantis hotel, which officially opens on Thursday, has been built by Sol Kerzner, a South African hotelier, on the Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai.

It boasts that its dolphin facility – Dolphin Bay – will be the first rescue and rehabilitation centre for injured or stranded dolphins in Dubai.

But the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has claimed that 24 bottlenose dolphins, used to stock the pools, were bought from a dealer in the Solomon Islands.

The WDCS claim that the dolphins, which had originally come from the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands, will now be used to entertain guests, who will be able to pay to swim with them. A 90-minute “shallow water interaction” experience with the dolphins costs visitors from around £75.

The row follows an order issued last month by the government of the United Arab Emirates to free a 13ft whale shark from a huge tank in the lobby of the 1,539-room hotel, after an international outcry.

Environmentalists claimed that the owners of the Atlantis hotel had disregarded international permit laws after capturing the shark in shallow waters off the Gulf coast in August and then used it as a display for hotel guests.

“It’s outrageous and hypocritical that Atlantis is claiming to be committed to conservation and to have a rescue and rehabilitation centre when they have supported the trade in dolphins by buying these animals,” said WDCS captivity campaigner, Cathy Williamson.

She added that life expectancy is shorter for animals in captivity and interaction with humans, such as the swimming with dolphin experiences offered at Dolphin Bay, puts the animals at risk of injury and infections.

Juan Vasquez, legal officer for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), who looked at the legal issues surrounding the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands, said that the species was not endangered but that for some people their export was an ethical issue.

A spokeswoman for Atlantis said it was entirely committed to the welfare of all marine life at the resort.

“The dolphins in residence at Dolphin Bay came from an existing facility in the Solomon Islands called the Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Centre. During the year they have been in residence in Dubai, two calves have been born, a sign of excellent acclimation and good health,” she said.

“Dolphin Bay’s 4.5 hectare lagoon maintains a covered and sound blocked area which was created to safeguard the animals from inclement weather. This area will be utilised during the Grand Opening evening for the assured safety and comfort of the animals.”

Marine expert and author Tim Ecott has been investigating the dolphin trade for several years.

“The morality of captive dolphin encounters for tourists is complex. Strictly speaking this species is not endangered, and Atlantis invests a lot of money in giving them a high standard of veterinary care and welfare,” he said.

“But people pay a lot of money to swim with dolphins – and this has generated a business in capturing and selling dolphins to places like Atlantis. It’s up to tourists to decide whether they want to exploit an intelligent species in this way.”

The row will cause further embarrassment to the resort owners ahead of the star-studded launch party tomorrow, which includes Oprah Winfrey, Robert DeNiro, Janet Jackson and the Duchess of York among its guests, as well as performances from singer Kylie Minogue.

The Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Centre was not available for comment.

Soapbox time… adoptions, CNY binging and species survival

Snuck a break, and checked out 2 bloggies after me own ticker:

1. ADOPTIONS. From the my animal family blog:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flea Mania, GN’R for the love of cats

… there is something to be said about the unmade-up mind which is often not more appreciated. they are minds still engaged. for those whose minds are well and truly set, those conversations are essentially dead and dried up. and where does that leave us?

recently, the woman encountered a clash of cultures between a cat foster and potential adopter. the foster is dead set against the potential adopter because she has heard too many stories. it’s not right she admits, but would you gamble away the life of a kitten on ideals about tolerance and harmony?

the woman looks at the kitten who is small and fragile in her hands and she wavers. ultimately, she gave the kitten to the adopter.


it is crystal clear we all start out at the same place, foster, adopter – love for the cat. but while those of us who are activists, fosters, volunteers and vested in the capacity that we are, have reached certain conclusions about how exactly a cat should be cared for, it is not for us to judge who can come to those same conclusions and who cannot.

like good art and music, the work of a cat welfare volunteer is to engage and to help all kinds of people along to new understanding and new revelations. if we are set and hardened as bricks, what we might do is save that one kitten. how about the many that we cannot reach with just one hand on the left and one on the right?

*

Been wanting to write on this topic… but well, there you have it, my animal family style. BTW, GNR = Guns and Roses… glam metal/rock band, not my fav, but definitely an outfit from my musical era and taste.

2. CNY binging and species survival: the sharks edition. From mrs budak’s blog:

“We eat the whole shark” my foot!

12th Jan, 2009 at 9:02 AM
Angel disapproves

I have written about this before but I can’t find the post anymore. With Chinese New Year coming we’re seeing some entries from “food bloggers” on hotel CNY packages. These CNY packages, naturally, feature shark’s fin.

The common refrain from these food bloggers is that we Chinese “eat the whole shark”. Very interesting. We Chinese are indeed well-known for eating up every single part of every thing we catch or kill. That is, if the meat actually makes its way to the restaurant.

Funny how nobody actually asked the restaurants about this, huh?

It’s very simple economics. If you’re out catching fish you’re going to fill your vessel with stuff that fetch the highest price in the market. On a per pound basis shark fins fetch much more than shark meat. Also, only certain species of shark are caught for their meat (dogshark etc); shark meat is otherwise reputed to be very tough, smelly (ammonia) or virtually inedible. Shark’s fin, however, is shark’s fin and no fisherman is going to begrudge a shark for its inedible meat when its fin fetches money.

So you have horrific pictures of finless sharks drowning on the seabed.

We see shark’s meat on sale at the market (SOMETIMES, as not all shark varieties are edible), or “shark meat lor mee”, and we delude ourselves into thinking that we “eat the whole shark”. We eat shark’s fin and psycho ourselves that the rest of the shark is being used somewhere else, somehow. Yeah, right.

So we “eat the whole shark” huh? Do you ask the restaurant if they buy the whole shark and use every single part? Do you know what species of shark the fin came from? Do you ask for the rest of the shark to be served together with the fin?

Please, if you want to eat shark’s fin (and be slowly poisoned by mercury), go ahead. But spare the rest of us “shark enthusiasts” of your hypocritical pronouncements that “we eat the whole shark”. Unless you can be sure that every single part of the shark your fin came from is indeed being used, just stuff your face and keep your mouth shut.

This is where your fucking shark fins came from )

Last year, there was also a feature in the Straits Times about Singaporeans’ growing penchant for shark’s fin soup, focusing on the tradition of serving it at Chinese wedding dinners. One spokeswoman from a top restaurant actually said their supply came from… wait for it… … farmed sharks!!!

‘Most of the couples’ parents consider this dish a premium and without it, they would lose face,’ said Mandarin Oriental’s communications director Ruth Soh.

Still, the hotel ensures that the fins it buys are only from fish farms, and not those that are harvested in the wild, or ‘finned’, she added.

Wow, if there is such a thing as shark farms, why are environmentalists and conservationists still crying hell and highwater for sharks and the marine ecology? But even if farmed sharks were more than an urban legend, like Mrs Budak asks: what about the rest of the shark??? I’d also love to get some details on how the hotel ensures the fins it buys are only from fish farms? I can’t find any information at all about any viable shark farms nor credible research on shark farming, just tonnes on how human consumption habits are killing the ocean’s fishes, including sharks.

The Singapore consumer is more gullible than is criminally possible. Talk about ostriches putting their heads in the sand, which by the way, is another human-made myth.

Help Alabama post-office cat keep his home

Apparently, the phenomenon of complainants causing problems for community cats isn’t a Singaporean-only trait, small comfort that it is.

Worse is the stranger phemon of authorities’ willingness to bend like pretzels for 1, that’s o-n-e, 1 sole (not very strong) complainant against an animal who doesn’t bother anyone and is more than tolerated by the silent majority. One woman doesn’t want Sammy in the post office he calls home because she’s highly allergic.

You’d have to wonder: how much time does she spend in the post office compared to Sammy that the U.S Postal Office has to do her will? What would the U.S. Postal Service someone comes along and complains she’s highly allergic to the materials used in the stamps being sold? And I thought it was bad enough that Singapore has a town council chief who advocates a zero cat policy. Bureaucratic tail-chasing isn’t such a uniquely Singapore trait after all. Oh joy.

Go to Dawn’s blog and read Cat banned from Post Office to watch the vid report. Read more reporting here: Post office feline sparks cat fight in small Alabama town

P O Box 173, Notasulga, Alabama 36866, United States of America.

Palin: Take Consistent and Firm Stand Against Moose Poaching

Another example of Palin’s disregard for wildlife aka the eco-system and the environment.

Palin: Take Consistent and Firm Stand Against Moose Poaching

Target: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
Sponsored by: Care2
The backstory to Sarah Palin’s accusations against her former brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten, reveals how Palin and her family have shown utter disregard for wildlife – unless it can be used to her political advantage!

According to the Troopergate investigation, Palin’s sister Molly got a permit and invited her then-husband, Trooper Wooten, to join her on a moose hunting trip. When it came time to actually shoot the moose, Molly had no interest and asked Wooten to take the shot – even though it is illegal to shoot an animal under someone else’s permit. After the shooting, the Wootens brought the moose to Palin’s father for him to butcher.

Sarah Palin and her family had no issue with asking Wooten to illegally kill the moose under his wife’s permit, nor did they have a problem butchering or eating it. But once Sarah Palin decided she could use the moose killing to attack her former brother-in-law, she did.

Palin needs to know: Moose are not political pawns – they are majestic animals and deserve to be treated humanely!

What a quotable quote from the Palin one:

When I look every day, the big oil company’s building is right out there next to me, and it’s quite a reminder that we should have mutually beneficial relationships with the oil industry.

Who’s palling around with questionable elements? I just don’t get how McCain reconciled getting a running mate with a completely different take from his on such an important issue as the environment, and worse, start to lean towards her warped reasoning for palling around with the grease boys, and spurt more oil in Alaska.

What a palin in the neck. I really really hope Americans aren’t that stupid.

Wolves under Pall(in) of slaughter

Dawn posted this. I feel very disheartened to know that after 8 continuous years George W Bush and his wars on terror and the environment (with the second 4 coming out of nowhere), we may get even more of the same… or worse. Talk about the difference between a pitbull with lipstick and a hockey mum. I do not mind either in the White House, just as long as he/she does what is right and needed. But with Mrs Palin, lipstick may well grease the barrel mouths of both hunting rifles and patriot missiles alike, oil-drilling bits and the marker pens scribbling denial of climate change. It will also mark the day my zombified faith in humanity and reason dies yet again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Defenders of Wildlife Advertisement

This is certainly very disturbing. Shooting wolves from planes? Factcheck does add some clarifying details, but it certainly seems that most of it is true. Shooting animals is already terrible in my book – shooting animals with an unfair advantage is much, much worse.

I left a comment too, with links attached:

This has been going for a goodly number of years. It is SLAUGHTER pure and simple, just like the Japanes/Nowegian/Icelandic whale killing.

Wolves are supposed to be protected – a CITIZENS initiative banned aerial gunning since 1996, but the last two governors forced through aerial hunting of wolves as necessary protection for prey animals and people, when it is human hunters who are decimating them and taking more lives for useless trophies than the wolves do to survive. (Ref: Aerial wolf hunting flies again in Alaska)

Again, like whale slaughtering, aerial wolf gunning is something that the general public would disapprove of but is continuing due the sheer power of lobby and political pandering.

Shooting one wolf kills many even without the aerial advantage of increasing the potential of shooting more than one.

The wolves of Alaska are extremely disadvantaged. This is extra cruel for the species’ survival especially if it is one or both of the alpha pair that gets shot since only the alpha have the right to breed. Due to the social hierarchy of wolf packs, the pack disintegrates under the intense sudden stress to the social fabric. The remaining pack members will likely disperse, and die one by one. If the alpha female has new babies – the young pups starve to death.

There’s quite a few sites and movements to overturn this barbarism. Disturbing, it is being applied to bears as well. Even more perturbing, other states with strong hunting lobbies are trying to ape them.

Good ref site: http://www.alaskawolfkill.com/

Another one: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/8/31/22337/7183

While I am aware that the other ticket may not be the ideal answer, the question is do we really really need more of the same old beating around the bush, all that whacking the environment senseless, generating war business  and tax breaks for those who don’t need tax breaks?

I feel the answer can only be a “Yes” if we want to see more and worse of the same problems the current Ptesident of the United States has shovelled onto the world. We’ve seen enough of the George W Bush version of governing, and it ain’t making the world better in my books. But the cruz is of course: How stupid is the American voter?

(Source: Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller. Click on the comic to view the original)

PS: Visit this site for more info on voting for conservation: League of Conservatiob Voters. They have scorecards, reports and the lowdown on candidates and current office holders of all stripes, from the President down to lil’ old governors wielding lipstick and hockey sticks.

Missing in action: Megafauna and seed dispersal in Asia’s empty forests

Very nice in-depth article by the ducky-dad of the blankie beast:

IMG_9740

Few people alive today know what is a stegodon. But it’s highly likely that the first generations of humans who arrived in East and Southeast Asia were quite familiar with these elephant-like creatures with bizarre tusks that ran parallel closely together towards the ground before curving upwards like a pair of long horns. On the continent, these pachyderms ranged from India to China. But when northern glaciers locked up enough seawater to turn Sundaland into a shallow shelf of immense river valleys and lowland rainforests, stegodons and other large land animals were able to walk or wade all the way to Luzon in the Philippines and Sulawesi in Indonesia. The returning seas trapped these footloose wanderers on islands such as Flores and Timor, where giants shrank over time to become jumbos the size of cows.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, modern hominids made their appearance in this region. The arrival of Homo in tropical East Asia coincided with a massive decline of large terrestrial mammals and the eventual disappearance of several species and even entire groups with no living remnants. Gigantopithecus was a massive ape that roamed East Asian forests in the same period as Homo erectus and now survives primarily in the imaginations of cryptozoologists and dreams of hopeful abominable snowmonsters. The stegodons survived for much longer, with the last known specimens dating from just 4,100 years before present from Yunnan in China, while dwarf species are known from Flores as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Elephants proper (Elephas sp.) coped better with the ascent of man, but with the rise of the Middle Kingdom, their habitats were cleared and hides so hunted (roasted trunk was a popular treat in ancient China) that a creature that once roamed as far north as Beijing now clings to a tenuous existence in the forests that border Myanmar. Elsewhere, Asian elephants rule over a fraction of their former range as expanding agri-industry and settlements force herds to find new homes in the hills or go head-on with humans to deadly effect.

Rhinos fared far worse, as East Asia’s two forest-dependent species teeter at the brink of extinction. Southern China had such high densities of Javan rhinos a few thousand years ago that their armour shielded the infantry of Chinese armies. Even in colonial times, casual big game hunters in the East Indies were able to boast of shooting six in a day. Today, no rhinos survive in China, whose medicinemen now cast their nets in Africa and other parts of Asia to satisfy their hunger for horny therapies. Just 300 or so Sumatran rhinos remain while Javan rhinos number in the mere dozens.

(click here to read full article)

P.S. Apologies for the radio silence. Good news to be updated with details are that Freddy and Mio have settled into new homes.

Sydney’s Lost Whale Calf

Dawn wrote about this heartbreaking news:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Whale bonds with ship

This is pretty amazing – when you think about orphaned kittens and how they need to be looked after and how difficult it is to keep them alive, you read about this and realise that there really is no way to bottle feed a whale.

The BBC says too: Hopes fade for Sydney whale calf

The lost calf – aged between one and two months – was first sighted on Sunday just north of Sydney and soon began to try to suckle from a yacht, which it would not leave.

Rescuers towed the boat into open sea hoping that the calf would find another female to suckle from, but the attempt failed and the whale returned to an inlet near Sydney. On Wednesday, another attempt also failed.

The whale has since been trying to suckle from other boats.

Sad sight

“It sounded like a bit of a vacuum cleaner on the bottom of the boat. I finally got up and here’s this whale suckling the side of the boat,” sailor Peter Lewis told a commercial radio station.

“It was a very, very sad sight. It did it for about an hour, going from side to side on the boat and at times blowing air under the boat, and it just seemed to give a sigh out at one stage as if, you know, ‘this isn’t working’.”

Chris McIntosh, a spokesman for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, told AFP that the whale probably hadn’t had food for about five days and was getting weaker.

Euthanasia was “the most likely outcome, but we are not at that point yet”, he said.

It’s funny how the same thing can elicit such different emotions from people. Whales, who doesn’t like them? … that was rhetorical.

The irony is, while Sydney agonises over the fate of this whale calf, Japan’s whale-killing mob is revving up to put political spanners in the anti-whale killing works. This, after using humpbacks to blackmail the rest of the IWC during the latest IWC summit to allow it to continue killing endangered fin whales in the next whale-killing season. This, despite voices of dissension among its own, particularly Shigeko Misaki, a former advisor to the Japan Whaling Association and the former counsel for the Institute for Cetacean Research or ICR (Japanese government FUNDED unnecessary whale research by KILLING them institute) who says:

“…I now find myself retired and severed from much of the controversy over whaling. However, internet reports of whaling “progress” thus far persuade me that this season is the most opportune time for Japan’s government to decide to withdraw all whaling operations from the Southern Ocean.”

“I say this because I believe that pelagic whaling does not contribute to the prevention of global warming. Just think of the expensive fuel the Japanese whaling fleet consumes en route to the Antarctic, plus that consumed by the freezing ship for transporting the byproducts of whaling to the Japanese market. Over the years, Japanese research ships have made a mess on the ocean when fire broke out due to poor management of the vessel. Add to that the mess made by animal rights groups eager to attack the whaling ships. Whaling as a business hardly justifies the environmental costs. Talk about ‘food mileage’ has not touched on whale meat. Why doesn’t the government consider it more seriously, and cease whaling in any form, except small-scale coastal whaling?”

Never mind the insanity and stubbornness of hiding behind the limpid excuse of culture and heritage. The important question is: can the voice of reason, the compassion of logic prevail against the hell-bent whale-killers of the world?

What can we do to help bring about that outcome?