Posts Tagged ‘ocean life’

Western Pacific Gray Whale

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

There are only around 130 of them left. Imagine if there were only 65 members of the opposite sex left in your species. Not a very deep genetic pool. I don’t think this bodes well for the western Pacific gray whale. Good luck friends. Sorry about the fishing nets, oil drilling, all that noise, and oh yeah- the folks from my side of the water that tried to species-cide you.


Dropping Links

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Some stuff I want to keep track of, and you might like to peruse, listen to, or watch…

  • NPR : Debate Over Whale Hunt Focuses On Japan – It looks like the whole idea of defending a ridiculous practice just for the principle is losing traction. Aired June 21, 2010.
  • NY Times Magazine: Tuna’s End by Paul Greenberg – Maybe the best summary I’ve seen on the plight of Bluefin, especially in recent times. Covers the CITES failure, the oil spill, and some great visuals that make the animal seem more real, and how they are caught. Published June 21, 2010.
  • On Point (NPR): Killer Whales: Tanks and Tensions with Tom Ashbrook. – A 47-minute radio program exploring whales in captivity, including Tilikum in Orlando.
  • Plants & Animals Denver – – the vegan advocacy group I help organize. We are currently working on a local Bluefin tuna campaign, and putting on vegan community dinners every month.

Fewer Japanese Eating Seafood

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Today’s Wall Street Journal told an interesting story about Japanese people that surprised me:

they are eating less and less seafood.

Though it has nothing to do with preserving ocean biodiversity, common sense, or ethics, I can’t help but be happy about this. The recent failure by UN nations to ban the trade of bluefin tuna at CITES (thanks almost exclusively to the shady lobbying efforts of Japan’s delegates) had me feeling that things were looking worse than ever for our invisible underwater friends. The fact that Japanese tastes are changing gives me hope. Of course there is a down side…

Young Japanese are turning away from fish increasingly because they are getting hooked to a salty, beefy western diet of hamburgers and chicken. Housewives are turning to these meats because they are easier to cook. In response, the fish industry in Japan is desperately trying to woo people back to fish flesh.

Read the WSJ article and watch the related video here.

CITES trying to save Tuna

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

NPR reported on the planned proposal to ban the trade of bluefin tuna in this year’s meeting to determine the new CITES treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Bluefin populations are estimated to be 10-15% of what they once were. Japan has said they will ignore the ban, should it be passed.

Also on the CITES table is a possible one-time legal ivory sale.

Click here for the story

Cove Filmmakers Still Hustlin’

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The Hump. NY Times photo by Monica Almeida

Japan is not the only place you’ll find whale meat on the table. Apparently there are some sushi zealots in LA who just have to try it, even if it is explicitly illegal here in the U.S. A recent undercover video sting of an elaborate $600 meal at The Hump, a Santa Monica sushi restaurant, found that a course of Sei whale can be served to the most adventurous sushi-philes. The vegan undercover operatives were in town for the Oscars, where their investigative partners would be collecting a statue for Best Documentary.

Director Louie Psihoyos and the makers of The Cove are hard at work on another marine-mammal oriented documentary. Based on this NY Times article, it looks like they will be taking a look at modern whaling, which really excites me. I am surprised to hear that there are such ridiculous ignorant people in the states, but then again, it is LA. Sushi is so hot right now.


March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The average shrimp-trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch.

So, with trawled shrimp from Indonesia, for example, the label might read: 26 POUNDS OF OTHER SEA ANIMALS WERE KILLED AND TOSSED BACK INTO THE OCEAN FOR EVERY 1 POUND OF THIS SHRIMP.

Jonathan Safran Foer, from page 49 of Eating Animals

Radiolab: Animal Minds

March 2, 2010 Leave a comment

photo by The Marine Mammal Center

The Animal Minds episode of Radiolab explores what we often wonder about our pets and other animals: what are they thinking? Jad and Robert get into discussions about dog guilt, anthropomorphizing, and the most amazing story about a whale caught in a web of crabtraps. It’s an excellent hour of radio, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Considering the mind of an animal is a good thought experiment.

We often think animals may have thoughts and feelings similar to our own. This concept usually advances the pursuit of animal rights, as it helps us relate to them and thus show compassion. However, making comparisons between animal and human minds can also impede compassion towards animals. I say this because it is unfair to animals to make that comparison. Scientists really know so little about the brains of animals, let alone humans. When we try to think about whether an animal is as smart as a human, we too often look at the problem in the context of human intelligence: Do they use tools? Do they communicate with each other? And when we find that they are not very human-like, we tend to classify them as somehow sub-human. This tendency is what feeds the widespread belief that animals do not deserve the same rights as people. Thinking this way justifies zoos, validates factory farms, funds animal testing, distorts our own sense of morality.

 Consider the humpback whale. The evolution of a whale’s brain happened in a way that has been advantageous to its species’ survival, while the long process that led up to the (seemingly) exceptional human brain occurred under vastly different circumstances. Realizing this, we must acknowledge that our brains are not necessarily that special in the animal kingdom. Yes, our brains have given us the ability to create, imagine, dream, love, and all that, but that does not make the human brain superior, except by our own biased standards of what intelligence means. Who knows what a whale brain can do? They are incredibly complex creatures that we know very little about. Maybe a humpback freed of its entanglement by a friendly group of human divers is showing gratitude when it nuzzles them afterward, or maybe it is doing something we just cannot yet understand. That behavior is something though, I gotta say.