Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Arrives by Sea



By Hardy Jones, executive director BlueVoice.org
Author soon-to-be released book The Voice of the Dolphins

The Christmas season of 2010 brought a day of reunion for the officers and crew of a cruise ship and the sisters and children of a Catholic orphanage on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia. In late October Hurricane Tomas had slammed into the island interrupting supplies of water, food and transportation. Some Lt. Lucians had had no food or clean water in days. Noordam came to the rescue.
When hurricanes are bearing down on an island destination, the standard mode of operation for cruise ships is to run for calmer waters so passengers will not be disquieted by the tempest and their safety will be ensured. But when Captain John Scott of Holland America’s ms Noordam learned of the serious destruction caused by hurricane Tomas on St. Lucia he made full speed back to the island he had just departed. Tomas destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure. The lack of drinking water was acute.
The situation was particularly dire at the Holy Family Children’s Home, an orphanage that had been adopted by Noordam and its crew. The kids were hungry, thirsty and scared.
On November 7 Noordam delivered some 50 thousand gallons of water to the main dock in Castries for the general population. This was no easy feat as ships are designed to take on water, not dispense it. But the officers and crew jury-rigged a system to deliver the life sustaining water. They also delivered food from the ships larder and clothing. Passengers chipped in with cash donations that went to the orphanage and an old age home.
I spoke with Captain Scott and hotel manager James Deering aboard the Noordam. “It was nice to be able to help people out when they are down,” the captain told me. And Holland America corporate had been totally behind his aid efforts. The ship was preparing to deliver on the requests for gifts made by the orphans to be delivered a couple weeks later.
After I left the ship James Deering wrote me about the special Christmas visit by Noordam in St. Lucia.
Every child from the orphanage received exactly what he/she had wished for from Santa Claus.
The pool party / brunch went over very well.
The teen girls had their first spa treatments.
The kids ate more than seemed humanly possible - and took the leftovers back home with them.
Our generous guests donated approximately US$1,500 cash, which was given directly to the Sisters who run the orphanage.
We sent boxes of christmas cookies and candies home with them as well to cover Christmas Day.

While on St. Lucia my wife Deborah and I were able to negotiate the washed out roads on the island to take an aerial tram through magnificent rain forest. It was encouraging to see many birds had survived the winds and rain. Some tourist activities were not yet operable but progress is being made in restoration. I have to say St. Lucia is one of the lovliest islands in the West Indies.
I guess I should also mention that I have no affiliation with Holland America Cruise Lines.

Monday, December 20, 2010

THE DAY WE SAVED THE DOLPHINS


From the soon-to-be released book The Voice of the Dolphins
by Hardy Jones

In 1980 Howard Hall and I were on our way to Iki, Japan to attempt to stop the slaughter of dolphins there. En route we were diverted.

We woke up our first morning in Osaka and saw a story on the front page of the Japan Times, an English-language paper published in Japan. The story’s headline reported “200 Rare Whales Captured at Taiji.” The animals were melon-headed whales, actually a species of dolphin. The story went on to say that the dolphins would be killed to provide food for lions at the Shirahama Zoo. It struck me as extraordinarily perverse that these magnificent wild dolphins would be killed to feed captive lions.
We changed plans on the spot and headed for Taiji, a small village of some thirty-five hundred people on the coast east of Osaka. We arrived in Taiji, found accommodations in a small hotel, and walked out to the small bay where the pitiful dolphins were being held. The coast there is magnificent with endless bays and coves formed at the juncture of mountains and sea.
Our presence disturbed the fishermen who had driven the dolphins into the bay. They were aware of the international outrage provoked by the slaughter at Iki the year before and didn’t welcome any foreign observers—especially those with cameras.
There wasn’t much Howard and I could do directly, so we just hung around the bay with our still and movie cameras at hand. The fishermen seemed stymied. They held meetings. Two days passed. Some of the dolphins succumbed and sank into the depths of the cove, but most remained alive. Howard and I worried that while the fishermen were talking, the dolphins weren’t eating and might starve. Dolphins do not drink and depend entirely for their hydration on the fish they eat.
On the third day of captivity for the melon-heads, the fishermen informed us that as a gesture of goodwill, the dolphins would be released. I believe they were afraid of attracting the same kind of international outrage that had been focused on Iki. The following morning, the fishermen drew back the net separating the melon-heads from freedom. But the dolphins didn’t budge. Confusion or shock or the knowledge that members of their pod were sick or injured kept the group huddled at the end of the bay farthest from the net.
The fishermen brought a small skiff driven by an outboard motor in behind the dolphins and began revving the engine. The dolphins started to move. The skiff herded them until they were past the net line. Once out of confinement with a clear vision of open ocean ahead, the whole pod erupted into spectacular porpoising leaps across the face of the sea. I remained poker faced, but inside, I was wild with joy. Maybe our cameras were all powerful.But that was long ago.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Are San Juan Orca Starving?

Guest Blog by Howard Garrett, Orca Network, www.orcanetwork.org

When the Southern Resident orcas were declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2005 after a population drop of 20% between 1996 and 2001, a variety of research projects were launched to find out why. Effects of vessel traffic on orcas were studied, persistent toxins were described, and researchers studied what these orcas' eat and how much of it is available to them.

Research on the orcas' hunger problem has uncovered the clearest results. NOAA researchers have examined fish scales and fecal material in the wakes of the whales and have concluded that: "Chinook salmon, a relatively rare species, was by far the most frequent prey item, confirming previous studies."

Prey availability studies have repeatedly yielded convincing correlations: drops in Chinook salmon numbers preceded higher mortality rates of Southern Resident orcas. Using 25 years of demographic data from two populations of fish-eating killer whales in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, that population trends are driven largely by changes in survival, and survival rates are strongly correlated with the availability of their principal prey species, Chinook salmon.

Whale watch tour boats can at times disturb the whales and those incidents should be
reported widely and some reprimand should be, and is, delivered to the captains and owners. The Q13 story (a tv news report) almost completely failed to mention the lack of food, the primary factor resulting in starvation, although they promise to do another story entirely about how the depletion of Chinook is starving the orcas. The boats do disturb the whales at times, but that is minor in comparison to the lack of Chinook.

Some naturalists talk about the very complex and politically charged salmon issue, but much more needs to be done to make sure the boats provide a good overview of the environmental degradation that has reduced the availability of Chinook for the So. Residents.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Results of Tests for Pollutants in my Body

In 2003 I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. Medications have kept me in remission for more than seven years. One of the factors that can lead to this disease is exposure to persistent organic pollutants. A major source of these pollutants is large pelagic sea food such as swordfish and tuna. During the late 1990s I was eating large quantities of these fish thinking them healthy. After my diagnosis I decided to have myself tested for the levels of these pollutants. The results described below are excerpted from my forthcoming book "The Voice of the Dolphins." They were certainly shocking to me.

From "The Voice of the Dolphins" (c) Hardy Jones
The first task was to document correlations between high levels of toxic substances in the oceans, and clusters of multiple myeloma and other cancers in humans on adjacent lands. I decided to begin with myself and had my blood tested for environmental toxins. It wasn’t cheap – four thousand dollars. But if I was going to pursue this line of investigation, I needed to know whether I had high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in my own body that might have triggered the myeloma.
I contacted AXYS Analytical in Victoria, Canada, a company that analyzes the contaminant levels on both the Canadian and American orca that pass through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands. They sent me a kit with a return Fed Ex package and pre-addressed label. Getting my blood drawn was a simple matter. I went to the lab where I had my monthly blood tests done and handed them the instructions from AXYS. They sat me down, wrapped the rubber ribbon around my arm and drew the blood. Then it went into the hands of Fed Ex.

The report took three months in coming, but the results were staggering. I had hundreds of toxic chemicals in my tissues. The report showed significant levels of POPs, in particular heptachlor, nonachlor, aldrin, mirex, dieldrin, and dioxins. But what really jumped out were spikes of particular congeners (subtypes) of DDE ( a metabolite of DDT), hexachlorobenzene (a petroleum derivative known to cause cancer), chlordane (a pesticide known to cause cancer and banned in the USA in 1988), PCBs (the same chemicals found in declining populations of orca off Washington State), hydroxy PCBs, hexachlorbyphenyls, and PBDEs (flame retardants).

Not only were levels of some of the individual toxins high, but the combined total of all classes of specific chemicals, each of which could produce cancer by itself, was enormous. Beyond that, these chemicals synergize to produce effects greater than that of each individual chemical.

Where had all these chemicals come from?

I showed Dr. Durie (Dr. Brian Durie, International Myeloma Foundation) the results of the tests. He was amazed by both the variety of chemicals documented and the very high levels of some of them. But he further surprised me with the news that the levels in my body were not atypical in the relatively few Americans who have been tested for their toxic burden. But, he cautioned, just because certain values were “common” in the general population didn’t mean they were harmless, especially in combination. The very fact that they were common might mean the levels of pollutants in the American population were far more dangerous than imagined.

Author's Note: Vastly more is known about the levels of pollutants in marine mammals than in humans.

BlueVoice Blog/Website recognized

BlueVoice has just been selected as 28th best blog on ocean education out of a pool of thousands by Public Policy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Good, Bad and Ugly in West Indies

by Jeff Friedman, BlueVoice.org board of directors

Joelle (Jeff's wife) and I did some diving in Grenada. The reef was full of life and they recently designated several of them as protected areas off limits for any fishing. But I will tell you I think I was spoiled by our diving in the Bahamas (BlueVoice trip off Bimini, summer, 2010). Perhaps it was from the rain every night kicking up sand, but the visibility was much better in the Bahamas. Less blue and more green in Grenada.

I was also happy to see that in the Tobago Cays national park they have patrols out making sure no one is fishing and no one is taking turtles. I had a great encounter with a Hawksbill turtle who let me follow him for a few minutes, until I was worn out – they can really move.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2qeaxiaFeY

And we had a ton of fun on the ship:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okvuLJwLFIQ

Some thoughts on whaling down there… Grenada, which has voted with Japan, seems to be getting a ton of foreign aid now from China. I did not take the island tour, but my shipmates did and said there are projects going on all over the island courtesy of China. I’m not sure why – perhaps because Grenada is so close to Venezuela, and China wants oil from there. But China’s money may reduce the importance of Japan’s contributions. Grenada doesn’t hunt whales or dolphins as far as I know, so their vote is purely financial.

I spoke to some people on Bequia about their humpback quota. Most of the islands that are part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, including Bequia, are very primitive. The hunt from Bequia is definitely old school, with small boats and hand held harpoons, which explains why they do not have successful hunts every year. I believe their quota is 2 per year. The people there that I spoke with believe their hunting will die out as it is done by older people on the island. The younger generation seems to have no interest and they don’t seem concerned about keeping it going as a tradition. I got the sense that it is a subsistence hunt and they don’t really care about preserving it. The people on the island are incredibly kind and friendly. It left me feeling that although I am totally opposed to their hunt, Japan and Greenland are a much more concerning issue right now.

I also think change is coming down there. The seeds for development and tourism are evident. And right now the government of St Vincent & The Grenadines is very friendly with Chavez and Castro. But the locals see the opposition party winning the next elections in 2011 and the opposition party is friendly to conservation, tourism and wants US dollars there. That might present some opportunities to swing their vote away from Japan (at the IWC).

I met an interesting guy on Bequia named Brother King. He started a turtle sanctuary there and runs it on very little funding. He is a former fisherman who talks about the ocean destruction he has seen during his lifetime and his commitment to starting the long term rebuilding of ocean life. His focus is on hawksbill and green turtles. He goes to nesting sites, covers the tracks and covers the site with debris so that hunters can’t find the eggs. He goes back when it is time for the eggs to hatch and then he takes the turtles to his sanctuary where he cares for them. When they are 5 years old he releases them. He feels this gives them a better chance to survive long-term and says he has had sightings of his released turtles years after. He is lobbying hard with the opposition party so they pass conservation legislation when they take power.

We did see dolphins once very briefly while under sail. They were swimming in the opposite direction and as one swam past the ship it did an incredible breach and flip right next to the deck where I was standing. It reached the height of the deck and was literally 10 feet right in front of me. Unfortunately I wasn’t holding my camera.

I shared a lot of info on BlueVoice with my shipmates and loaned one couple from Boston a copy of The Dolphin Defender as they seemed very interested in the issues.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week Two Dolphins and Sharks at Bimini




July 17. Left Miami and crossed stream into strong easterly winds on our nose. Made only four knots. Arrived Bimini 11am. I did some free diving to get my breath back. Divers enjoyed a 25 foot reef with loads of fish.

Afternoon we ran in dolphin grounds and had a ten minute close contact with seven spotters. Strong winds continue to make it a tough job to put people into the water and extract them.

July 18. Despite strong easterlies we had good dives Limited dolphin contact. Overnight at Gun Cay. Juliet is rock solid. Fellow travelers are wonderful grup, enjoying everything.

July 19. Morning dive at Stevie’s Wonder. Lots of fish but viz down to max of fifty feet. 4 – 5 foot swells made diver recovery an adventure. Sailed north in the pm. Found dolphins flying off the wave tops. Juvenile with flaming pink belly porpoise leaping beside us time after time. Ended the day at Bimini Road. No extraterrestrial contacts.

July 20. Weather too rough to look for dolphins. Nice dive in clear water in the morning then into Bimini to overnight. What a shame the Complete Angler burned down some years ago.

July 21. Weather still very rough. But again nice diving at Bull Run and other locations. Coral still vivid and alive. Plenty of small fish. Mellow sharks at Bull Run. Everyone enjoyed being with them and some cured their life long fear of sharks.

July 22. Still rough. Great diving. Had to run for Miami to arrive ahead of tropical storm Bonnie.

July 23. Debarked the Juliet and drove home to Saint Augustine through driving rain much of the time.

In a future blog I will write of the dangers of putting divers into rough water in the open sea.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meeting Dolphin Friends



July 10. It’s been thirty 32 years since I first sailed into the world of the spotted dolphins who inhabit the northwestern Bahamas. This year we’re near Bimini, a location I first discovered in 1987 aboard Juliet, a 103-foot schooner with spacious, comfortable staterooms.

We left Miami at 4pm, passing through light rain. Giant black and gray cumulous hovered behind us over the highrises that face on government cut. Two massive cruise ships preceded us, the two carrying roughly three thousand passengers. Quite a contrast with Juliet carrying twelve plus crew of four.

At 2am July 11 we anchored north of Bimini and woke up to dolphins around the boat. There were approximately sixteen spotters, mostly juveniles.

My goal is to get as many identifications as possible of individuals here. Most of my work with dolphins in the Bahamas has been with the pods of the White Sand Ridge, north of Grand Bahama island. In 2004 and 2005 that area was hit by massive cat 5 hurricanes. Many of the dolphins previously identified in that area were not seen after those events. There is a possibility they moved to other areas and Bimini is not far from the northern schools.

It was even thought that Chopper, whom I first identified in 1979 and had known personally for nearly three decades, had been among the victims of the tempests. But Denise Herzing, a dedicated scientist who has studied the White Sand Ridge school, told me she had seen him in 2007. That was a relief.

The dolphins found us about 730 am. They were really engaged with the divers. I shot some nice video. After a midday break of diving and lunch we found dolphins at 4pm. They were playing wildly amongst themselves. They had no interest in us but they did not run from us. I found myself totally enveloped in dolphins during some of my freedives and the video came out nicely. So far we’ve only been able to identify one dolphin from this area – one with a shark bite that tore away half the dorsal fin.

July 12 we found dolphins early but disengaged when they seemed to want to be on their own. The weather is very hot – in the mid 90s and I’m urging everyone to drink water, take salt and keep slathered in sunscreen. Late afternoon we found dolphins feeding. Entered the water and a lone teenager came to a group of 8 of us passing very close to each diver, closing its eyes in a sign of trust. Maybe a smile. Gazed at itself in my camera dome.

July 13. Brilliant scuba dive on a drop off north of Bimini. In afternoon there were four boats looking for dolphins. Not a good scene. We had only minor contacts and I broke off in late afternoon. We will head for another location. It just didn’t feel good to me to see all those boats running around trying to pick up dolphins.

July 14. Dove Bull run. Friends very happy with the reef sharks. Ran to b-2 and found dolphins immediately. Two close encounters with them. One appeared to have been slapped with silver paint three times on right side. Another had deep cut in dorsal starting just forward of the peak. A lovely squall swept over Juliet just after dinner.

July 15. Seas came up over night. Three to four foot swells in the morning. Six playful young dolphins hit our bow after breakfast. One was silver paint. Divers had a phenomenal experience with this group for 45 minutes. Seas layed down.

July 16 Awoke in Miami harbor and said goodbye to the BlueVoice supporters who had accompanied us. Tomorrow a new group joins us and we head back to the Bahamas.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

BlueVoice Busts Illegal Whale Commerce in Greenland



Greenland Blog #3

BlueVoice Uncovers Unsanctioned Commercial Whaling in Greenland
by Hardy Jones

The word that the IWC had granted Greenland a quota to hunt nine humpback whales in each of the years 2010 – 2012 reached me in Iceland as I traveled to Nuuk, capital of Greenland.

The word that twenty-seven of these curious, intelligent, infinitely graceful creatures will be killed after years of protection is heart wrenching. Over the decades during which the approach of a boat did not mean a painful death, humpbacks have become friendly, approaching boats and even divers in the water.

Now that bond of trust will be broken. That is sad in itself but it may also impact the whale watching business that supports communities all along the east coast.

The IWC granted Greenland the humpback quota for whaling that would provide meat for ABORIGINAL USE ONLY. But in Nuuk I’ve discovered the meat in a super market, in the form of sushi at a Thai restaurant and as steak in a greasy spoon burger and pizza joint. Tonight I will head out to find whether there are other establishments purveying whale. Commercial sale of whale meat is not allowed under the IWC quota.

It is sad that humpbacks have just reappeared off Greenland after sixty years only to be slaughtered.

I am in Greenland to attend the Inuit Circumpolar Council. I want to learn what information is available on levels of heavy metals and organic pollutants in marine mammals killed for food and in the people who eat it what health problems have been identified and how the Inuit intend to deal with that information.

It’s an established fact that women who eat large quantities of dolphin, whale and seal meat give birth to a high ratio of girl babies over boys. In some villages the ratio is two to one. In one village no boys have been born in some time.

I discussed this issue with William L. Iggiagruk Hensley (Willy) an Inupiaq who has too many major league political and business credentials to list. He was a member of the Clinton transition team, a leader in several Alaska native organizations and author of Fifty Miles From Tomorrow, a brilliant work.

I was astonished to learn that he had no knowledge of the fact that eating marine mammal meat was causing such a bizarre impact on Inuits. It is literally suppressing the production of male children not to mention immune systems and mental development.

Among the speakers at the conference is Per M. Bakken of the United Nations Environment Programme. He warned that a chemical catastrophe faces the people of the north from contamination in some of the food they take from the sea – marine mammals in particular. I asked him if he felt the Inuit ignored or were in denial about these facts and he agreed that they paid little attention to it.

What they are really ticked off about is the fact that trade in seal skins is prohibited by many nations.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Greenland

By Hardy Jones

My IcelandAir flight slips out of U.S. airspace at 34-thousand feet bound for Greenland via Keflavik, Iceland. I await word from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Agadir, Morocco on the fate of Greenland’s request to kill humpback whales for aboriginal subsistence.

After we go “feet wet” out of Labrador the ocean is cloud-covered the entire way to Iceland. An hour out of Keflavik I realize the humpbacks that may now become targets of the hunt are swimming a vertical mile below us. I have known this stock of whales in the Caribbean at Samana Bay and out on the Silver Banks. They were extraordinarily friendly towards me in the water. Along most of their migratory route along the eastern seaboard of the United States they are protected. This protection has brought increasing friendliness and curiosity from these whales toward whale watchers who comprise a multi-million dollar business to charter boat owners, hotels, restaurants etc. That trust now seems destined to be breached.

Aboriginal hunts of marine mammals are a highly complex ethical issue. It is true that the Inuit and their cousins have traditionally thrived on what they call natural food – caribou, seal, beluga, minke whales, and other marine mammals.

But the whales taken by Greenlanders are less and less destined for an aborignal table. The fin and minke whales already hunted in Greenland are being sold at high price in grocery stores and high-end restaurants. This hunt for whales is about profits – not aboriginal rights. In fact the Inuit of Greenland are apparently having a hard time getting any whale meat because the big money guys are sucking it all up for the more lucrative trade.

During my stopover in Iceland I learn the IWC has voted to allow Greenland a quota of nine humpback whales. They are going to kill the great white winged singers of songs. Greenland will become the only entity on earth legally killing humpbacks.

This is not my first visit to the land of the Inuit. I spent some time among them in Iqualuit in Nunavut, a federal territory of Canada with quite a measure of independence from Ottawa. What I learned is that when aboriginal peoples change their diet from “natural” foods to store bought McDonalds or Kentucky Fried they develop diseases ranging from acne to diabetes and obesity. But if they eat high end predators such as beluga and narwal they most surely run the risk of intoxication by heavy metals such as mercury and chromium as well an organic pollutants such as PCBs and PBDEs.

I was prepared for surprises during my sojourn in Greenland. The first was a mind boggling example of how is one man’s detriment is another’s great good fortune. Greenlanders are actually cheering on global warming. They have recently been able to grow turnips in south Greenland and they pray still warmer weather will open up new opportunities in agriculture – no surprise in a land more than three-quarters covered in ice. The downside is that if all of Greenland’s ice melts global sea level would rise by up to 24 feet inundating many coastal areas around the world and perhaps even the newly flourishing turnip farms.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mercury/Health Expert Slams Taiji Mercury Findings

By Hardy Jones

Dr. Jane Hightower is author of Diagnosis Mercury. She's a San Francisco based internist famous for discovering the effects of mercury on many patients suffering unknown medical symptoms. At the request of BlueVoice she comments on the results of tests of mercury levels in citizens of Taiji, Japan, the village made famous by The Cove for its heinous dolphin slaughters. The tests were carried out by the National Institute of Minamata Diseases (NIMD).

The NIMD concluded that while a significant number of citizens, especially those who ate dolphin meat, had very high levels of mercury, there was no evidence these mercury burdens were causing health problems. BlueVoice points out that internationally recognized tests for neurological function were not carried out by the NIMD researchers.

It should be also be pointed out that the tests conducted by the National Institute for Minamata Diseases were paid for - wait for it - the town of Taiji!!!

Dr. Hightower's statement:

There are many studies that confirm that methylmercury is toxic to humans and can adversely affect health in a number of ways. Of most concern with long-term over exposure is non-specific symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms/damage, autoantibody induction, infertility, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and elevated heart rate.

These adverse effects have been seen with much less exposure than what has been reported with the people of Taiji. It would be unconscionable if the Japanese government chooses to look the other way.

The Japanese government’s approval of consumers’ exposure to high mercury content as a result of a limited and inadequate study has potential for disaster.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Japan Mercury Whitewash: Report on Taiji Dolphin Meat

By Hardy Jones

Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy and a long-time associate of BlueVoice, reports from Taiji, Japan that the National Institute of Minamata Disease has found extremely high levels of mercury in people who eat dolphin meat in that village made infamous by the award winning film The Cove. But they claim to have found no evidence these high levels of mercury have done any harm to those people. Results were released in a press conference Sunday in Taiji.

Unfortunately the NIMD had not conducted tests necessary to determine the impact of high mercury levels on humans including neurological tests and IQ tests. In the absence of such tests their conclusions are meaningless.

From the report faxed to me by Ms. Hemmi this morning: 1137 hair samples were tested in summer of 2009. In 43 persons the levels of mercury were higher than 50 ppm. As a reference point 1 ppm is considered the top level acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The highest tests results were for TAiji citizens who eat meat such as pilot whale.

In 2008 a Japanese journalist, Hiroshi Hasegawa, received data developed by BlueVoice that documented high levels of mercury in four dolphin-eating Taiji citizens. He then conducted additional testing that found even higher numbers for mercury among the dolphin-eating population. The results were published in AERA, a major Japanese magazine. His article spurred the NIMD to propose testing citizens of Taiji for mercury.

In a second article this reporter wrote "Through possible intentional error or plain negligence, the examination itself was outside standard neurologically based testing standards that take the brain deteriorating effects of methyl mercury poisoning into account." Those tests include the two-point discrimination test and a test for ability to discriminate three-dimensional objects by touching them. They also neglected to do IQ tests.

The upshot is that Taiji will take no action to control the sale of dolphin and whale meat.

The only good news is that studies will continue under the auspices of another organization. Those studies will particularly focus on the circulatory systems of children in Taiji.

We are seeking comment from Dr. Jane Hightower, a widely recognized experts on the impact of mercury of people who accumulate excess quantities of this heavy metal on whether it is possible to have such high levels of mercury in a human body without it causing harm.

Bottom line is that the NIMD report is a whitewash. Perhaps the scientists who conducted the studies on the dolphin-eating citizens of Taiji learned their trade from those who conduct "scientific whaling.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 26 at BlueVoice

Blog 4-26-10

A Day at BlueVoice.org

Going over reports from lawsuit against Dupont filed in Mississippi by a man – a heavy seafood eater - who contracted Multiple Myeloma a form of blood cancer, from eating shell fish from a bay contaminated by Dupont. Jury initially awarded him $15 million.

Writing Chapter 8 of my book. Manuscript due May 15.

Just found group from Louisiana that has brought the issue of chemical contamination to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. They allege that the United States is not protecting their right to live in a healthy environment. The commission has agreed to hear their petition. This is the first environmental human rights complaint from United States citizens to be heard by the Organization of American States. It could be another tool to fight the contamination of our planet by toxic chemicals.

Seeking contacts in Greenland to help investigation of abnormal ratios of male to female babies in in Inuit villages due to contamination by estrogen mimicking chemicals in fish and marine mammals eaten there.

Email from Chris Palmer showing cover and other elements of his new book Shooting in the Wild. Excellent book due in stores May 15. Several stories about my filming adventures.

Looking at possible implications for dolphins from the oil rig disaster. Oil has now covered an eighteen hundred square mile area. Sperm whales were seen in the vicinity of the slick.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Entangled Humpback Location Currently Unknown

Entangled Humpback Location Currently Unknown

I just received a call from Jamieson Smith of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) bringing me up to date on the status of the humpback whale entangled off Florida.

The humpback sighted off Ft. Pierce is the same one first seen off St. Augustine March 7. A concerted effort was made to rescue the whale on that occasion. But the whale has been highly evasive. It evaded placement of a satellite tag that would have enabled continuous monitoring of its position.

NMFS is advertising a hotline number for anyone spotting this entangled whale. 866-755-6622

The rescue team that was in St. Augustine has been moved to Ft. Pierce to be ready should another rescue attempt be possible.

There have been reports of entangled humpbacks off the Florida coast in recent days but the whales turned out to be unencumbered.

There was no calf with the entangled humpback. The captain of the party boat who reported that says he saw a large animal under the entangled whale. He assumed it to be a calf but in retrospect says it never surfaced so the shadowy figure must have been a shark.

We discussed the dolphin activity around the humpback and Jamieson told me that was not unusual. We both agreed that it is hard to impute motivation to dolphins under such circumstances. But he did say that having dolphins around an entangled whale makes it easy to find the whale.

I told him of my experience in the Bahamas where I was certainly protected by four juvenile spotted dolphins from a hammerhead shark. Judge for yourself in the accompanying video.

video

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dolphins Protect Entangled Humpback from Sharks

By Hardy Jones

Last week my friend Zach McKenna of St. Augustine Eco Tours told me of seeing loads of whales well of the coast of St. Augustine. There were right whales and humpbacks.

Tragically there was a humpback entangled in monofilament fishing line. A team from NMFS tried to disentangle the whale for many hours but was unsuccessful.

Yesterday a fishing boat out of Jensen Beach on the east central coast of Florida spotted a humpback entangled with the line cutting into her flesh. A calf was nearby. A Mako and a hammerhead shark were circling. The mother breached continually, apparently to drive off the sharks.

"(The whale) has polypropylene rope wrapped around its head and pectoral fin and its attached to an anchor," said Captain Patrick Price.

Price said he saw the larger of the two whales breach many times. Then, amazingly, a large pod of about 100 dolphins arrived on the scene. The dolphins circled the whale to protect it from the sharks. The dolphins accompanied the whale for over an hour until Price saw a whale breach a mile to the south. At that point the dolphins headed in that direction.

Captain Price remained on the scene for four hours until a NMFS team arrived on the scene. At 2:45 p.m. sea conditions deteriorated. The NMFS biologist on hand called off rescue efforts to avoid further injuring the whale.

NOAA whale scientist Jamison Smith said that if boaters see a whale in distress they should call call 866-755-6622. A team of biologists trained in handling whale entanglements is on standby.

I phoned Jamison Smith. I’m awaiting a return call as of 1215 Monday. Will report updates.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Did U.S. Head of Delegation to IWC Go Rogue?

By Hardy Jones

On March 16, 2008 President Obama said We must strengthen the International Moratorium (on whaling). “Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable,” he said emphatically. His delegation to the International Whaling Commission’s just concluded intercessional meeting did not support that position. The question is whether there has been a change in the president’s position or his head of delegation Monica Medina has gone rogue and the president is not aware of it.
The intercessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) assembled to hammer out a consensus on how the organization would move forward ended with no action taken due to lack of a quorum.

Meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida from March 2 - 5 the commission addressed the question of how to create a set of regulations and quotas that would satisfy both whale protectionists and whale hunting interests. Of course at the ethical level no such compromise is possible.

Whales are simply not products. They are not creatures to be “harvested” as so many of the whaling delegates describe the process of taking their lives. No one planted these magnificent animals. No one invested resources to grow them. Their taking involves using a small canon to drive an explosive harpoon into their bodies that detonates instants after contact and leads to agonizing death.

The second item to be negotiated was whether to grant a quota of at least fifty humpback whales to Greenland. Many excellent pro-whale organizations argued that there is not enough scientific data available to determine whether humpbacks can be hunted in a sustainable manner. To me this may be a tactic that is appropriate to IWC meetings but these facts do not represent the real reason we should not kill whales.

We should not kill whales because of who and what they are, highly intelligent and magnificent animals beloved of millions of people. In the cases of humpback and fin whales they are endangered species. We have wiped out more than 90 percent of many whale populations. In some cases humans have annihilated whole populations of whales.

The factual, rational and highly regarded New York Times published an editorial opinion that whales should not be killed for any reason.
Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico spoke strongly of a need to phase out whaling entirely in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. The United States offerings were weak-kneed. Head of delegation, Monica Medina, was often at odds with the expert members of her own delegation and spoke platitudes and pleasantries that did not present a cogent American position.
Not a single environmental NGO supported Medina’s position. The reasons are as follows:

The proposed set of regulations called The Package would legitimize commercial whaling by suspending commercial whaling moratorium for a decade.
The Package does not prevent contracting governments from exercising their right to object to any or all of the Schedule amendments, or from leaving the Commission and returning with a reservation such as Japan’s current ruse of scientific whaling.
The Package legitimizes whaling in the Southern Ocean in a sanctuary established by the IWC itself.

The Package does not phase whaling down or out.

The Package is not based on sound science. Catch limits will not be calculated using the IWC agreed precautionary scientific approach, or even subject first to consideration by the Scientific Committee.

The Package fails to require the whaling nations to give up their reservations to the CITES Appendix I listing of whales. It provides an incentive for the whaling nations to continue trading with each other under reservation and to develop new commercial products from whale tissues and oils and develop new markets for the trade in whale products in the future.

But more than any and all of these flaws in the Package there is one simple truth: Whales are not for killing.

Link Between Dolphin Slaughter and Whaling


By Hardy Jones

When I was in Iki, Japan three years ago the former head of the fishermen’s union told me something important. Iki had not been granted any further quotas to hunt dolphins because the Japan Fisheries Agency (JFA) felt Iki had gained too much notoriety from the footage Howard Hall and I took of the 1980 slaughter.

He said the JFA feared the dolphin slaughters and whaling would be linked in peoples’ minds and that whaling was vastly more important to Japan than the dolphin hunt.

Now I don’t know how this squares with the worldwide ignominy Taiji has suffered from films over the last few years, most recently The Cove and prior to that When Dolphins Cry, a film I did for National Geographic. But I believe the linkage exists.

It is important to see the connection between the two issues. The killing of whales at sea, while it has been filmed by Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, does not compare in graphic intensity with the ghastly slaughter of dolphins that can be videotaped from the shores of Hatagagiri Bay at Taiji.

The two hunts – for dolphins and whales – meld in the mind. They are rightly seen as a common policy of the nation of Japan. In addition there is the fact that dolphin meat is often sold as whale meat.

Ultimately there is the image of a modern industrial nation countenancing the hideously cruel and primitive killing of animals of high intelligence – animals that are beloved around the world.

Finally there is the perfidy of the Japanese government denying the findings of its own scientists – that dolphin meat and whale meat contain high levels of contaminants that threaten human health.

For those of us who write about these issues keep the linkage in mind. Japan would sacrifice the dolphin hunt to save whaling. And the blood of the dolphins is the blood of the whales in the mind of all who care about both.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Decision on Fate of Whales Postponed

March 3, 2010. St Peter Beach, Florida

By Hardy Jones


The intercessional meeting of International Whaling Commission (IWC) assembled to hammer out a consensus on how the organization would move forward has ended with no action taken.

Meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida from March 2 - 5 the so-called Small Working Group addressed the question of how to create a framework and set of regulations and quotas that would satisfy both whale protectionists and whale hunting interests. Of course at the ethical level no such compromise is possible.

Whales are simply not products. They are not creatures to be “harvested” as so many of the whaling delegates describe the process of taking their lives. No one planted these magnificent animals. No one invested resources to grow them. Their taking involves using a small canon to drive an explosive harpoon into their bodies that detonates instants after contact and leads to agonizing death.

The second item to be negotiated was whether to grant a quota of at least fifty humpback whales to Greenland. Many excellent pro-whale organizations argued that there is not enough information available to determine whether humpbacks can be hunted in a sustainable manner. To me this may be a tactic that is appropriate in the confines of the commission meetings but these facts do not represent the real reason we should not kill whales.

We should not kill whales because of who and what they are; highly intelligent and magnificent animals beloved of millions of people. In the cases of humpback and fin whales they are endangered species. We have wiped out more than 90 percent of many whale populations.

Even the factual, rational and highly regarded New York Times published an editorial opinion that no whale should be killed for any reason.

Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico spoke strongly of a need to phase out whaling entirely in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. The United States offerings were weak-kneed. Head of delegation, Monica Medina, was at odds with the expert members of her own delegation and spoke platitudes and pleasantries that did not present a cogent American position.

The meeting in St. Pete did not attract a quorum so no decisions could be taken. That is a blessing as it will allow BlueVoice and likeminded organizations to present forcefully to President Obama the argument that no whales should be killed and that he should demand of his delegation that they not push for consensus on issues for which no consensus can or should be reached. Whales are not for killing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

U.S. TO SUPPORT DISASTROUS RETURN TO COMMERCIAL WHALING

FROM THE SESSION ROOM
URGENT ACTION REQUIRED.

By Hardy Jones
St. Pete Beach, Florida
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Obama Administration, through its delegation to the International Whaling Commission Small Working Group, appears ready to sign off on a deal that would permit a return to legal commercial whaling. Japan, Iceland and Norway’s whaling has heretofore been conducted under reservations to the moratorium on whaling that has been in place since 1986.

The only chance to derail this backroom deal appears to be direct protest to President Obama. All environmental groups are united in their opposition to the plan to legitimize whaling. In this way the president who promised a new way of doing things is vulnerable but only if those of us who love and revere whales make our outrage known to the White House.

If the United States were to vote for a resumption of commercial whaling it would represent a 180 degree turn around from the position the president took just a year ago.

On March 6, 2009 the Obama administration pledged it would firmly oppose whaling. Environmentalists thought Obama was signaling a tough US position approaching meetings to examine the proposal that would open the door to legal whaling.

One of the results of this deal would be a quota for Iceland and perhaps Japan to hunt endangered fin whales.

It is BlueVoice’s position that there is no justification for whaling whatever. Absolutely. Whales are sentient beings with high degrees of intelligence and self-awareness. They are magnificent and inspiring, beloved to millions around the world.

TO PROTEST THIS RECKLESS POSITION EMAIL THE WHITE HOUSE. On the web go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

You can paste the following into your email message and add your own thoughts. It is very important to personalize the message so it does not appear mass produced.

President Obama, you have previously indicated you would strongly support the protection of whales. The statements of your delegation to the NGO caucus at the IWC in St. Pete, FL belies your commitment. I urge you to oppose legalization of commercial whaling. Whales are intelligent and sentient creatures that should not be killed. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

IWC group Proposes Return to Commercial Whaling

by Hardy Jones

The so-called small working group of the International Whaling Commission has released a draft proposal that would overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling that has has been in place since 1986.

The compromise is aimed at unblocking the protracted negotiations between IWC member countries opposed to commercial whaling and those that hunt whales.

BlueVoice is unalterably opposed to any move by the IWC that would sanction the killing of whales commercially. We believe it is morally unacceptable to kill such large brained, social and, in most cases, endangered animals. There can be no compromise on the murder of such creatures.

The draft proposal must be ratified by the plenary of the IWC which meets in June in Morocco.

BlueVoice urges the Obama administration to mount a vigorous defense of the whales.

In an era when ocean pollution and destruction of food species and habitat already pose dire threats for the whales of the world the last thing we need is commercial whaling.

The draft proposal would allow only Japan, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, to whale commercially. Indigenous subsistence whaling also would be allowed.

Japan is currently hunting whales in the Antarctic conducting what it bogusly calls a scientific whaling program. The take of 900 minke whales plus 50 endangered fin whales are sold commercially in Japan.

The IWC proposal includes language stating that the IWC will "focus on the recovery of depleted whale stocks and take actions on key issues, including bycatch, climate change and other environmental threats."

But environmental groups are outraged by the proposal.

Greenpeace International called for the proposal by to be rejected out of hand.

My old friend John Frizell of Greenpeace says "We are at a critical junction for both whaling and ocean conservation. A return to commercial whaling would not only be a disaster for whales but will send shock waves through international ocean conservation efforts, making it vastly more difficult to protect other rapidly-declining species such as tuna and sharks."

If you believe, as we do, that whales are extraordinary, sentient and intelligent creatures then any legitimization of their slaughter is anathema.

We will be at the intercessional meeting of the IWC in St. Petersburg, Florida in early March to join other major conservation organizations in opposing these proposals. We'll be tweeting and blogging from the scene advising our members via ACTION ALERTS of steps that need to be taken as the meeting progresses. video

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Global Climate Change - not Global Warming

By Hardy Jones

Its’ freezing again down here in St. Augustine (N.E. Florida). I get up in the early morning hours when the temperatures hit their lows and if the thermometer looks like it will cross into freezing territory I water and cover my citrus. It’s not as frigid as in January when we had to string Christmas lights through the key limes and Meyer lemons to protect them.

Where the cold has really caused devastation is in its terrible effects on species of wildlife that aren't geared for such temperatures. There are perhaps 4,500 sea turtles, some of them highly endangered, that are in a moribund state - paralyzed by the cold and possibly not going to survive. Manatees have been severely impacted, many have died and each day that passes with extreme low temperatures the more of these engaging creatures will die. In January we had large die-offs of fish and alligators in many parts of the state due to cold water temperatures.

Some animals that have died are exotics that the ecosystem is better off rid of i.e. Burmese pythons that have been let loose by pet owners and multiplied in the Everglades. Certain non-native fish that push out local fish are also dieing in large numbers while native fish are surviving better.

Animals that are at the northern limit of their ranges are all vulnerable. And the recent record cold down here is an indicator of things to come as climate changes due to a combination of forces, mostly greenhouse gasses created by human activities.

Let’s be clear about something. What we are facing is not global warming, though the globe is warming. On a global basis January was the warmest month in recorded history worldwide. But in large parts of the United states there have been unusual cold and record levels of snow fall. There are those who disparage and despise Al Gore and the vast majority of scientists around the world who support the thesis of anthropogenicly induced climate change. They are showing either their own stupidity or their dogmatic clutching at anything that will undermine the science that proves global climate change a real and present danger.

These people are generally not stupid. They are ideologues who make a living parroting a line of thought that is bought, literally, by a segment of our population. These are people who twist their own belief systems to allow themselves to make money by falsifying information critical to the survival of our planetary ecosystems.

In this way Fox News and their ilk say the recent cold waves and heavy snow falls prove global warming is bogus. No one should ever have used the term global warming. Huge mistake. Global climate change models call for rising overall global temperatures with extremes of cold, hot, snow, drought, flooding etc. And BTW, warmer air holds more moisture and thus creates more snow so heavy snow is completely consistent with global climate change, even with global warming.

Email from a friend in Vancouver says they are having the warmest winter in recorded history. Reports from Iqaluit in Arctic, Canada indicate extraordinarily mild winter temperatures.

On the other side of the world Australia has experienced its warmest year ever.

Oddly, for a species self-named homo sapiens, we tend to believe what is convenient or profitable. This will have consequences.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Cove and BlueVoice

Louie Psihoyos, multiple award winning director of The Cove, has generously written of the role played by BlueVoice and Elsa Nature Conservancy in bringing the story of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji and the threat of mercury to those who eat dolphin meat to world attention. The Cove has won virtually every film festival it has entered and is now nominated for an Academy Award. Equally important, The Cove has secured distribution in Japan. I am confident that when the Japanese people learn of the slaughter of dolphins in their own country, coupled with information on the dangerous levels of mercury in dolphin meat, the brutal practice that takes the lives of 20,000 dolphins a year will end. Hardy

Louie's statement:

Today is a good day for dolphins and the supporters of Blue Voice. The documentary I directed called The Cove about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji can now announce a distribution deal in Japan. Getting to this point has been a long journey but none longer than the work of Hardy Jones and Blue Voice who were the first boots on the ground in Taiji going back to 1980. Hardy’s work, in collaboration with Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy, resulted in the shutting down of the infamous drive fisheries in Iki and Futo and his work on mercury toxicity in cetacean meat has significantly reduced the demand for human consumption in that country.
The huge international response to The Cove helped to temporarily halt the slaughter of dolphins but the dolphin hunters of Taiji have recently ramped up their operation. In addition, they have installed more razor ribbon in the National Park above the cove and hired additional guards to patrol the area when they have captured dolphins. I believe the additional security is a good sign because it means the dolphin hunters know the world is now watching and their horror show cannot survive the light our collective work has shined on the issue.

I believe we will win this issue in Japan, not because of the inhumanity to animals but because of the inhumanity to man – nobody should be served poisoned meat just because of the ‘tradition’ of a few people. The Japanese Minister of Health’s provisional limit for mercury in seafood is 0.4 ppm (parts per million) but dolphin meat can have anywhere from 5-5000 times more mercury than allowed by health food laws. The dolphin hunters and their middle men sell much of the dolphin meat in Japan as ‘whale’ meat. Dolphin meat is considered in Japan to be a ‘trash’ fish and we believe if the ruse were widely known – the demand in Japan would collapse. In addition, much of the most toxic parts of the dolphin meat, the internal organs are ground up and used in pet food and fertilizer! So even if you are a vegetarian in Japan you can be poisoned by dolphin meat. The earliest signs of mercury poison was in Minamata, Japan where the Japanese government tried to cover up the first large scale industrial accident in history, the first signs of contamination were seen in cats. ‘Dancing cat disease” was the first sign of a problem before it spread to humans and was called ‘Minamata’s’ disease. People in Japan should be on the look out for their pets acting strangely.
There is a lot of work to do in Japan to inform the Japanese people that there is a problem. The government and the media have done a pretty good job trying to spin this film as a ‘Japan bashing’ movie but the Japanese people themselves who have seen it do not agree. The Cove is a love letter to the Japanese people because we are giving them the information that the government is trying to cover up. Both Hardy and I have been poisoned with mercury from eating too much fish so the issue to us is emotional and very personal.

Many dolphins have larger brains than our own and more convolutions of the gray matter allowing for more sensory neurons. They may be more sensitive than were are and we know that nature would never burden a creature with a weighty brain if it were not being used for higher functions. Our responsibility now is to realize that in the next decade our choices will decide the fate of the world. For many people this awareness will begin when they first view The Cove and quickly see how that this tiny body of water is a microcosm of a much bigger problem we all face. But I would like to acknowledge the work and tireless work of Hardy Jones of BlueVoice.org and Sakae Hemmi from Elsa Nature Conservancy whose efforts have been instrumental in helping to create awareness about the issues way before my organization, OPS entered the fight by making a film. There is a wonderful quote by Margaret Mead who said, ““A few thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Hardy and Sakae deserve to be acknowledged as early champions of these important ocean issues.

The changes we seek count on the support of millions of people who believe change is possible. And make no mistake, the fight has only just begun and we will need the efforts of many like-minded organizations working together to solve the many issues raised in The Cove. Please support the important work of Blue Voice because I believe they are not just saving dolphins, they are helping to save humanity and perhaps the world. The awards bestowed on The Cove have been incredible but Hardy’s groundbreaking work made it possible. I believe awards should only be regarded as the collateral that happens when we try to create awareness to solve the issues. Our real reward will come when the cove is shut down, dolphins are no longer captured for human entertainment and we realize that our fates for survival are intertwined by actions we must now take.

For the Wild,

Louie Psihoyos
Director of The Cove
Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society

Unusual Strandings of Dolphins Along Florida Coast

Ten dolphins and one beaked whale have stranded on Florida beaches near the Kennedy Space Center over the last nine days.

Megan Stolen, a scientist with the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute in Melbourne Beach, described the numbers of stranded dolphins as "unusually large."

No far there is no explanation for the event.

It is illegal to try to return the dolphins to the water. Institute Director of Florida Development J.B. Kump said the best course is to try to keep the dolphins wet, and notify experts. Beach-goers who find stranded dolphins are asked to report any stranded animals to toll-free phone number 888-404-3922.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dolphin Intelligence viz Human Intelligence

by Hardy Jones

It has long been my belief that there should not only be a ban on directly killing dolphins but regulations which protect their habitat, food supplies and water quality.

I’ve spent more than thirty years among dolphins in the wild. Much of it has been spent with spotted dolphins in the Bahamas. But I’ve also interacted in a personal way over varying periods of time with spinner dolphins in Hawaii, killer whales in Norway, sperm whales in the Galapagos and off Dominica and bottlenose dolphins at Rangiroa Atoll.

Their curiosity and inventiveness in creating and maintaining a relationship with a non-cetacean intelligence such as myself has convinced me there is something extraordinary going on in their massive brains. My conviction is only enhanced by observations of them interacting among themselves.

I don’t need scientific proof that cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are intelligent but I welcome it as a way of convincing the vast part of humanity who’ve had no contact with these creatures that they are a special case; that they merit special protection under law.

Drs. Lori Marino and Diana Reiss used mirror self-recognition to prove that dolphins are self-aware. The story of this remarkable work received substantial media play when it was published. In January of this year articles began to pop up around the world reporting a call from Dr. Marino that dolphins be treated as “non-human persons.”

The articles cited studies that have shown dolphin communication is similar to that of humans and that dolphins have brains have many of the features and functions of human brains.

In a statement that really pecks at the cosmic egg Dr. Marino, Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University in Atlanta, said dolphins neuroanatomy “suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions.”

After reading of Dr. Marino’s statement I traveled to Atlanta to interview her. In a Starbuck’s just off campus we had a fascinating discussion of the difficult subject of comparative intelligence.

I pressed her on a question that I’ve long had about why dolphins, who in many cases have larger brains than humans, are “marked down” because of something called the brain-body weight ratio. Essentially that says that to get a true value on the intelligence of an animal you must divide the brain size by the body weight. This produces the result that because dolphins weigh more than humans the high denominator in the calculation pulls down the “intelligence” of dolphins viz humans.

I propose to Lori that a large part of dolphin weight is simply blubber that requires no brain functions to control it.

Her answer was complex.

(To be continued)
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Shark finning horror in Japan


by Hardy Jones

Attached to this blog you will find a photo of the catch from a single Japanese shark fishing boat. It will give you an idea of a process that is exterminating sharks worldwide. BV http://www.bluevoice.org is funding a study of mercury levels in sharks as part of an effort to dry up the market for shark products.
Photo by Circlet. Copyright Circlet, BlueVoice.org

More soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Day at BlueVoice Home Base

Email is both a bane and the source of our ability to make a worldwide impact. When I arrive at my desk about 8:30 each morning I download 50 to 80 emails. After trashing the junk I’m still left with maybe thirty pressing communications from around the world. Next I have to make an evaluation of those that are “burning” - something that needs immediate attention.

Here are the email transactions for December 28,2009.

Email from Dieter Hagmann, video of bottlenose dolphins that have been killed. Dolphin hunters appear to be using a new way of killing dolphins so there will be no blood. How do we use this information? Who will pay attention over the holidays and with so much other news breaking.

Email from Sakae from ELSA Nature Conservancy (our ally in Japan). Email sent 3:00am her time. As always she’s burning the midnight oil. She confirms what I also see in Dieter’s video – that some of the dead dolphins are bottlenose.

Query prompts me to do a quick Google on Brucellosis in dolphins and whales around Japan. There are many cases. How do we prove there is disease in dolphin meat at Taiji? That would really whack the market for dolphin meat.

Video arrives reporting death of a dolphin named Rasca, attributed to Navy sonar. Seemed to be a news report but had an air of fakery. Put out word to list serve Cetacean Freedom Network for verification.

Sue Arnold (Australians for Animals) email via CFN. She’s working on getting world religious leaders to go to Taiji to bear witness.

Word comes through that the dog we fostered has been adopted. Beautiful picture of Sunshine with her new family.

Email from Jim Abernathy (who runs the dive boat Shearwater) discussing impact of high mercury in human tissues on human sexual dysfunction. BV is sending him video of a shark fishery in Japan for use on his website re his new book on sharks.

I email Dr. Jane Hightower, world class authority on mercury contamination on humans and author of “Diagnosis Mercury” for analysis of mercury impact on human sexual dysfunction.

Email from Dr. Sidney Holt, one of the original and longest workers on behalf of whale and dolphins. He lives now in Italy and we reconnected through the internet. We back-and-forth on diseases such as brucellosis in whale and dolphin meat. Danger to humans? Tool to destroy the market for whale and dolphin meat?

Email reporting a major article will come out in Japan on mercury in dolphin meat and in those who eat it. Japanese scientists testing people of Taiji appear to be covering up results on who has mercury poisoning.

Email from several CFNers – the video on Rasca is not genuine news. Turns out to be a clip from a feature film in the making.

Dr. Hightower replies to my inquiry - there is ample reason to think high mercury impacts sexual function. Certainly lowers sperm count and affects nervous system.

A $400 dollar donation arrives. Nice lift for us. We appreciate the money but also the support.

More video arrives from Dieter. I take a deep breath and open it. Starts with three men hauling a bottlenose into the cove. The dolphin is brought under a green tarpaulin. No blood is seen. Soon a dolphin sling attached to the side of a boat comes out from under the tarp headed for the holding pens. This dolphin will be trained and sold for entertainment.

Rest of the afternoon will be reviewing three hours of Dieter's video of dolphin slaughter in Taiji. A grim prospect.
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