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My time in Taiji

A few days ago I sat and tried to write a new blog entry. I only got one sentence out before I shut the computer.

The days here in Taiji are long and emotional.

I was searching for words after a tragic and sad day. It had been the seventh slaughter in eight days. A beautiful family of Risso’s dolphins had been driven into the cove on January 27, 2013. A family of 56-58 individuals, who were swimming freely in the ocean were chased down and trapped in nets. The fishermen killed 26 without hesitation that day. We later realized they may have hit their quota on Risso’s and that would be the only reason the rest were spared.

I can still picture the juveniles swimming close to their mothers as they were pushed farther from other family members. The fear and confusion they must have been experiencing still fills me with emotion and tears. As the family was separated by men, boats, and nets, the outcome became clear. Soon we could hear the struggle beneath the tarps. The distinct sound of thrashing that confirms the dolphins are being slaughtered.

That sound invokes emotion that really isn’t describable. I think you must experience it to even grasp what it does to you. The rest of the family was left to swim within the nets as they watched and listened to their family’s slaughter. They were then subjected to the fishermen driving boat after boat filled with the bodies of their loved ones past them. I can only imagine the trauma that the horrifying procession caused those sentient beings.

Sentient. I want to just say something about that word and what it means. Sentient means to be aware or finely sensitive in perception or feeling. Whales and dolphins are sentient beings. Then there is the scientific matter of what are known as spindle cells within the brain. Humans have them. They are what creates and allows for social bonds, connections, and relationships. Consider how you feel about your family, your pets, and friends. That emotional connection and love. The bond you feel for those you love. Those are your spindle cells hard at work.

Dolphins have more spindle cells in their brains than humans. According to New Scientist, “Spindle cells, named after their long, spindle-shaped bodies, are the cells that are credited with allowing us to feel love and to suffer emotionally.” A documentary by BBC shows that, “some whales and dolphins have three times as many spindle neuron cells as humans. Spindle cells are thought to make us feel love and emotion.” Now imagine experiencing what those dolphins experienced. Sometimes I wish I could force those feelings and pain on the dolphin killers and the dolphin trainers that work along side them. I am willing to bet they would collapse from the heartache it would cause.

Two weeks in Taiji changed my life forever. Going home was wonderful because I missed those I love. But the moment I boarded the train for the airport I felt how badly I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave Taiji and the beauty of Japan. I didn’t want to leave my family of Cove Guardians who I miss tremendously. Mostly I didn’t want to leave the dolphins. The ones who will be slaughtered and dragged to a butcher house and the ones left scared in the nets of captivity for the rest of their lives. Leaving them felt like an act of abandonment.

I had been worried leaving would be hard but just like witnessing the horrors of Taiji with my own eyes, I wasn’t prepared for the pain. My two weeks went by in a blur but at the same time I can remember every single detail. I remember the slaughters and how my chest would ache, my throat would tighten, and the view through the camera lens would blur from my tears. I remember the sounds that came from below the tarps in the killing cove. The dolphin tails hitting the water as they struggled and died. I remember the trainers yelling as they selected the pod members taken for a life of captivity. And I remember the laughter of the fishermen after they had just killed an entire family.

I know I will go back because part of my heart and soul will always be there now. More than anything I am more determined now to see an end to marine mammal captivity. All the lives lost in Taiji to slaughter and captivity are because of that industry. I do not feel like this is a losing battle, which some people say to me. I know we can win this. I know we can end the cruelties of dolphin captivity and see the day where the waters of the cove are forever blue.

Thank you for reading.

Rachel

“May all beings be wild and free.”

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, Cove Guardian, Dolphins, Sea Shepherd, Taiji, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Japan Dolphin Day 2012!

It’s hard to believe it, but the 2012-2013 Japan dolphin hunting season is upon us. It feels like the sadness that spun from the traumatic events of last years hunting season hasn’t even gone away. And yet, here we are, facing another season of death and capture in the waters of Taiji.

The start of the hunting season will once again bring together people from all over the globe who want to see Japan end this slaughter.

Events are currently being planned all over the world so be sure and go to one near you and make your voice heard.

Tell Japan to end this for good.

Tell the world that you stand against captivity. You can make difference.

Check out this link to get information on a protest happening near you. Protests will take place on August 31, 2012 in the afternoon.

I truly hope everyone can make time to go out and support dolphins living wild and free in our oceans.

 

And don’t forget to check out my fundraising page for my upcoming trip to Taiji, Japan.

 

Thank you for reading!

~Rachel

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, dam guardians, Dolphins, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Sea Shepherd, Uncategorized, Whales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

My First Donations!

My First Donations!

I am so happy to be receiving support from my amazing friends and family for my upcoming trip to Taiji, Japan!

Thank you to everyone!

~Rachel

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wasteful Fact Wednesday!

This weekend I went to a talk by Captain Moore about plastic waste in our oceans and I was HORRIFIED! I thought I knew how bad things were, but he took it to another level. The waste and destruction in our oceans has become so problematic that it is beyond clean up. The only option we have to try and save this planet is to start cutting off the problem at the source. The source is wasteful people and their obsession with plastic. One such destructive object is the plastic bag.

The estimates I kept finding online was that globally there are 500,000,000,000 bags used EVERY SINGLE YEAR! That averages out to about 1,000,000 plastic bags consumed and wasted every single minute. That is incredibly insane, wasteful, and avoidable.

Plastic does not go away. It simply breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, contaminating soil and water along the way.

Here in Washington State we have plastic bag bans in three cities (including Seattle) that will all take effect this summer. A state wide ban is also being considered. If it passes Washington will be the first state in the country to ban these terrible bags.

It seems that bringing your own bag into the store is a no brainer. Everyone should be doing that at this point. It is the easiest way to make a HUGE difference for our planet. You can buy them at the store or even look up your favorite organization online and purchase a bag from them. You can support a great cause and do your part for the planet at the same time.

Thanks for reading!

~Rachel

Categories: Animal Welfare, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, plastic, pollution, Uncategorized, waste | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Journey Towards Taiji….

Okay guys, it is official. I have decided to go to Taiji, Japan during this year’s dolphin hunting season. I am aiming to go sometime in January 2013, but I need to start fundraising for the trip. I sent in my Cove Guardian application to be a part of Sea Shepherd’s on-going campaign, Infinite Patience. Since my application was accepted I must now start the process of FUNDRAISING!

I am very excited to begin this new journey towards helping the dolphins of Japan even more. In order to stop this annual slaughter of dolphins we must show the world what is happening. People need to see how their tickets to Sea World directly contributes to the deaths of these magnificent creatures.

I have started a fundraising page with the website Go Fund Me. I needed an easy way for friends and family (and hopefully some animal loving strangers) to help support me in this dream.

So check out the donation page HERE. (www.gofundme.com/stopthedolphinslaughter)

Thank you so much for reading and I will continue documenting the steps in this journey right here at World Wide Waves.

~Rachel

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, Dolphins, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Sea Shepherd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Minds in the Water

This is fantastic new documentary coming out about a surfer’s experience with the ocean and the amazing creatures in it. He is on a mission to bring awareness to the many, many problems the ocean is facing and how we can all make a difference.

Check it out!!

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, Dolphins, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Orca, Shark Finning, Sharks, Uncategorized, Whales | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Shark Fin News

Shark finning kills 73 million sharks every year

There has been a lot of shark related news in the last couple of months so I wanted to take some time to talk about it and share the ups and downs with everyone.

Shark conservation is definitely getting more attention these days and for the most part everyone seems to be on board with a “save the sharks” plan. Canada is moving forward quickly with various cities putting their own shark fin bans into place. The city of New Market was the latest to ban all shark fin products. They joined the other Canadian cities of Oakville, Pickering, London, Brantford, Mississauga, and of course Toronto. There has also been talk of banning all imports of shark fin products into Canada. It’s amazing to see a country putting conservation and ocean health before money and tradition.

New York doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about shark conservation. There are those supporting it and then there are those who stand by tradition and clearly do not care about the future of sharks or the world’s oceans. Recently, The New York Times seemed unable to make a clear stand on the issue. They write numerous articles about the potential ban of shark fin products and always mention the insanely high numbers of sharks that are killed every year. One recent article says:

“Scientists estimate that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, leading some species to the brink of extinction and depleting oceans of a key ecosystem predator.”

As a newspaper they seem to understand the conservation issues at risk here, but a search of their website will also take you to a recipe for shark fin soup. It would be great if they could figure out which side they are on. If they care about our sharks, our oceans, and the health of the planet then they should remove that recipe from their website. You can email them at Editorial@nytimes.com and ask them to take down the shark fin soup recipe. The ban of shark fin products in the state of New York is still being discussed.

Shark fins for sale in a Chinese Market

Even our own President seems to be a little confused about shark fins. One month after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, President Obama was seen eating a restaurant that serves shark fin soup. He made a quick-lunch stop while in San Francisco and of all his choices he went into a place that serves the very dish that is tied to the act he just signed into law. Shark fin soup is one of the driving factors behind creating the Shark Conservation Act. It was pretty disappointing to see he went there and I know he is very busy but somebody working with him needs to watch for these mistakes in the future so that Obama can continue to set an example and not appear inconsistent to certain values.

Some good shark fin news however comes out of Maryland and Illinois. Both states are currently considering shark fin bans similar to those already passed in Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. In Illinois, HB 4119 has already passed in the house and now moves on to the Senate. Fingers crossed we can get two more states to join in on saving sharks!

Meanwhile the European Union is making some big moves to help shark populations. They have backed a complete and total ban on shark finning. With this new proposal they want ALL boats in their waters and ALL EU registered boats to land with fins still attached. Right now, the EU has enough loop holes and permits to allow finning to continue in their waters. This is what they want to stop. Because it is still just a proposal it needs the support of the European Parliament before it can become law. It seems that Spain and France however do not support this ban on shark finning yet. Hopefully, both countries will realize the importance of shark conservation and join the other countries in supporting this historic legislature.

There was also some interesting scientific information recently released about sharks. A study was released showing that shark finning is the reason for a dramatic decline in blue shark populations off the coast of the United Kingdom. The study showed that blue sharks feed in the exact area that long line fishing boats operate. The scientists who conducted the study say that fishermen are deliberately going after the sharks with a “wall of death”. Blue sharks are considered ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List. Giving more reason to support the shark finning bans in European Union waters.

Neurotoxins found in shark fins

Another study was released about the consequences of eating shark fins. Scientists have found a direct correlation to the consumption of shark fins and brain diseases. There is a high concentration of BMAA in shark fins, which is a neurotoxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig disease. Maybe this needs to be the next campaign? Ban shark fins and save lives?

 

Hopefully I will have more good news to share soon in the form of more bans being put into law and less sharks ending up as a bowl of soup.

Thanks for reading.

~World Wide Waves 

Categories: Animal Welfare, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Shark Finning, Sharks, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pink Slime Rant

Pink slime is an ammonia treated beef filler

Alright, so this is not exactly ocean news but I still wanted to say something about this ‘pink slime’ issue. The news, my Facebook friends, and even my family all seem to be talking about it. So here is my two cents – why is everyone so incredibly shocked about this? The meat industry is putting ammonia treated filler into your beef and you are surprised? This is the same industry that only tests 1 out of every 2,000 cows for Mad Cow disease. The same industry that acknowledged that nearly ALL (95%) chickens become infected with E.Coli and that between 39-75% of chickens are STILL contaminated when purchased from the store. The same industry that gives your chicken a chlorine bath during processing in order to get ride of slime, odor, and bacteria. Knowing this is why I am not shocked at all by this pink slime controversy.

Maybe the average person has no idea about the things I just mentioned. Maybe they just go into the store and buy food without giving any thought to where it came from and how exactly it got into their shopping cart. I know that is what I used to do. I never gave a thought to the chemicals or additives that were in my food. I always pictured the animal’s face as it was sitting dead in a slab of seasoned flesh on my plate, but I still ate it. Then I had a revelation one day about what I was doing, what I was a part of. I am very strongly against animal cruelty, as most decent and normal human beings are. So how could I judge the guy who kicked his dog but bite into my burger at the same time? Fact is you can’t. If you buy meat and dairy then you are supporting animal cruelty. You are supporting an industry that thrives off the miserable lives of other beings. And you are supporting an industry that also profits off of adding things like pink slime into your food. They abuse their animals and put disgusting crap like ammonia treated filler into your food because THEY CAN! Every time you walk into a store and buy a chicken breast, a package of hamburger, a gallon of milk you are saying it is okay for the USDA to do all of the above mentioned things. You might have a fleeting thought about the cow or the chicken, but you still buy their dead body parts to cook up and eat.

Then there is the whole “but I need my protein so I have to eat meat” excuse. Well, I haven’t had meat in about a year and a half and I am more healthy today then I have ever been. Nearly all plant matter has protein in it. And the proteins you are getting from animal meat are pumped with drugs and chemicals. The animals are kept in such horrific conditions that in order to keep them alive until slaughter they are given massive doses of antibiotics. In the US about 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to people, but the livestock you consume are given 17.8 million pounds. It is no wonder 76 million Americans become sick from food every year. So yes, I will take my vegetable proteins over those animal proteins any day.

So people really started freaking out about the whole disgusting pink slime thing when news came out that 7 million lbs (eww, by the way) would be served in schools this Spring. However, it wasn’t until this week that Safeway and Supervalu, the number 2 and 3 largest grocery operators said they would stop carrying beef containing pink slime. So my question is, if you are going to go to the store and buy your family beef for tonight’s dinner then why does it matter if it is served in schools? Either way you children are eating it. Why does the school have to be held to a higher standard in their lunch rooms than the average parent does at their own dinner table? Up until this week, that is the meat that your stores were selling. It was in August last year that McDonalds stopping selling beef containing pink slime. I don’t have kids so maybe I don’t understand, but if you are going to the store and buying Doritos, Oreos, chicken breasts, hamburger patties and a gallon of milk to wash it all down then why does it matter what your kid eats for lunch at school?

Okay, I suppose that will be the end of this little rant, but I urge everyone to learn about your food! It is what sustains you and a lot of it is killing us. Studies show the direct link between osteoporosis and animal protein. New studies show the growth of cancers being linked to amounts of animal proteins eaten. Aside from the health, consider the animals for just a moment. That was a life. It had a heart beat, probably gave birth, requires food, water, and shelter just like we do. And it lived and died a terrible life so it could end up on your plate. Killing is a big deal. Death is a big deal. So at least consider your choices because those animals living and dying at factory farms have no choice. 

*If you still feel that you need to eat animal flesh and drink the milk of another species in order to survive in life, then at least consider local farmers that keep small amounts of animals in pastures and natural settings. And take the time to educate yourself about what you are feeding yourself and your families. There are resources under my Resources and Links page (Eating Animals, Food Inc., Forks over Knives).

Categories: Animal Welfare, Factory Farms, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Taiji

The first week of February did not end well in Taiji, Japan. The cove turned blood red as the fisherman slaughtered 30 striped dolphins. Their lives and families were ripped apart in just one afternoon. Thank goodness the following week was a little better for the dolphins of Japan. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the fisherman caught no dolphins.

However, on Tuesday, February 7, the waters again turned red with the blood of Risso’s dolphins. On this day the trainers were also at the Cove working with the fisherman to claim the lives they wanted for captivity. Two Risso’s dolphins were taken that day for a life of imprisonment, but not until they had to witness the deaths of their family members. The count was 22 Risso’s killed. 2 Risso’s bought by the trainers.

Tuesday was also an interesting and stressful day for the Cove Guardians who are in Taiji with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The police held the CG and ended up restricting the use of all hand held radios. They had been using the same radios for two years so it appears the police of Taiji are once again just getting desperate to find ways that the protesters are breaking the law.

This week also ended in a sad and tragic way. The fisherman found a pod of striped dolphins on Saturday. They drove them into the Cove and slaughtered all 30 adults. After the family was dead, they drove the juveniles and babies back out to the sea. They have no pod or mothers to keep them safe, so their fate will ultimately be death. They will starve or get taken by a predator. Tim Burns of Save Japan Dolphins was at the Cove this day:

“Now the Taiji dolphin hunters have driven these young dolphins from the open sea to land, killed their entire family in front of them, and condemned them to die at sea.”

This killing season only has 7 more weeks until it ends. As of Sunday, February 12, the fisherman have reached their quota for Risso’s and striped dolphins. They cannot hunt those species anymore.

We’ll see what this new week brings for the dolphins of Taiji. But whatever happens there will be 14 Cove Guardians standing by to witness it all.

Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, Dolphins, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Sea Shepherd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Dismissed

Aerial view of orca tanks at SeaWorld

It was big news when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tried to take on SeaWorld in a court case based on the Thirteenth Amendment. Any Google search using the words ‘Peta’ or ‘SeaWorld” would pop up nothing but information about the court case. It was back in October 2011 that Peta filed the suit against the, in my opinion, disgusting SeaWorld empire. The suit was filed in the US District Court in San Diego claiming that the orca whales kept by SeaWorld were slaves to the entertainment industry. The spokesperson for Peta had this to say before the trial began:

The whales “were forcibly taken from their families and natural habitats, are held captive at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, denied everything that is natural to them, subjected to artificial insemination or sperm collection to breed performers for Defendant’s shows, and forced to perform, all for the Defendant’s profit.”

On February 8, 2012, the judge dismissed the case and said that,

“the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons and not to non persons such as orcas.”

Alright, so I have mixed feelings about this Peta versus SeaWorld case. I agree with Peta and the fact that the orcas are definitely being held captive against their own will and are being held for profit reasons only. I think that is a pretty clear and obvious fact. My only worry about the case was what would Peta try to go after next? I am part of a very active marine mammal activist community and I know others had the same concern. I am a dog owner. I have a rescued pit bull mix that I literally saved from the euthanasia room. She was going to be put to sleep because she was sick and therefore lost her place on the adoption floor. It was either go home with me, or die. Does Peta approve or disapprove  of my owning a dog? She gets a lot of love and sleeps on the bed next to me every night, but she also stays home with the cat when I go out to dinner or go to work. So would they consider that wrong treatment of an animal? Thoughts like this worried me. Would they at some point go after police dogs being used to sniff out bombs and drugs? Who knows, but either way I think it was a tremendous thing to file a suit against SeaWorld. They cleary do not have anything but profits in mind when they see the orcas and other dolphins swimming around in circles in their tanks. They exploit and use the animals in their “collection” every single day.

Stephen Schwarman is the Co-founder and CEO of Blackstone Entertainment, which owns SeaWorld

I read the other day that Stephen Scwarzman paid one million dollars to throw his 60th birthday party in 2007. His home is 7,000 square feet bigger than the ENTIRE Shamu stadium! Schwarzman is the co-founder and CEO of Blackstone Entertainment, which owns SeaWorld. Now I understand that the Blackstone Group only recently purcased the Seaworld empire in 2009, but since then there hasn’t been any improvements in the facilities or care. They keep Tilikum isolated in a small tank because of the recent death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.

Tilikum is kept in a small tank, isolated from the others

 

 

 

Stephen Schwarzman's vacation home in Palm Beach

 

I read the observations of one individual who went to SeaWorld two days in a row and watched Tilikum for 10 hours, both days. During that time they saw him alone the whole time. No interaction with the other orcas, no toys, no real trainer interaction time. He was only moved from one small tank to another. How is this good treatment of an animal? After the PETA trial a SeaWorld spokesperson said this,

“SeaWorld reamins the standard for stewardship of marine animals and we reject any challenge to the conditions and quality of care for these remarkable animals.”

Seaworld is the standard for marine animal care? If that is the truth then its time to raise the bar and demand a higher standard because they are a big blanket of failure in my eyes.

Lets hope the upcoming OHSA case against SeaWorld gives the world an even better view into the dark world of captivity.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Cetaceans, Marine Wildlife, Oceans, Orca, Uncategorized, Whales | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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