Friday, December 28, 2012

The Perfect Pet?

There is a growing trend out there and it involves pets. No it does not involve dogs and cats. It does not involve reptiles or birds. It does not involve insects. It does not involve mammals. It does involve fish. In fact it involves a certain type of fish. This type of fish is commonly known as the shark. The growing trend is people trying to keep sharks as pets. You might recall walking into your local pet store and seeing some small fresh water fish labeled as sharks, such as the iridescent shark, but in reality these animals are not sharks and are not the animals this blog is going to be about. The animals I am referring to are large species of shark that are found in the Ocean. Some of the most common species of large shark that people keep as pets are... Get ready for this... Blacktip reef sharks, lemon sharks, hammerhead sharks, nurse sharks, and the bull shark. So the point of this blog is really going to by why each and every one of these sharks are by far the worst pets in the world and should never, ever be a part of a household aquarium. First though, I will list some species of shark that people do keep as pets with success. As you may expect, these are small species of shark.

Two of the most popular are these guys, the brownbanded and whitespotted bamboo sharks.


Both of these sharks are naturally small, growing to be between 3 and 3 and a half feet.They are both bottom dwelling sharks that feed largely on shellfish. Their teeth are flattened and designed to crush shells rather than tear flesh from fish. They are not aggressive at all and spend most of their time resting on the Ocean floor. This makes them a favorite among those who decide to keep sharks as pets. Another small species of shark that is a favorite among many people is the epaulette shark.

Much like the bamboo sharks, these sharks are bottom dwelling sharks. They grow to be about 3.3 feet in length and feed mostly on shellfish. As with the bamboo sharks, this species of shark is not aggressive at all.

Those are probably the top three of the popular small sharks that people keep as pets. Despite not even being four feet long, all of these sharks still require large tanks as at night they can be active swimmers. Despite not normally eating bony fish, these sharks are still capable of eating small fish and will do so if they are not fed enough. Personally, I do not think any species of shark should be a pet. If I had my way, it would be illegal to own a true shark. However, this is not the case, and some people do enjoy having sharks as pets. If you feel the need to own a shark, these three species are probably your best bet. Now lets move onto the not so good, but very popular choices.

The first shark that a lot of people try to keep in their household aquariums is the blacktip reef shark.

Commonly confused for the blacktip shark, the blacktip reef shark is not as large as it's cousin. However, this shark can still reach lengths over 5 feet. They are fierce night time hunters and must swim in order to breathe. What this means is that even as babies, blacktip reef sharks require a ton of swimming space. They must be kept in almost a constantly lighted tank or they will start to feed themselves with the other fish in the tank. Many times people do buy these sharks as babies, when they are roughly 16 inches long. They have no clue how big they get and then all of a sudden they are dealing with a 5 foot long shark and an aquarium that cannot support it. Often times, these sharks wind up being donated to Aquariums or being released into the Ocean. Either way, these sharks often run into problems. In the wild, the young sharks are not accustomed to having to feed itself as they do eventually associate people with food. They run a greater risk of being killed by fisherman or accidentally biting a swimmer to try and get it's attention to feed it.

Compared to the other sharks, the blacktip reef shark is somewhat small. The next shark is the lemon shark.

This one hits a little closer to home for me. I actually had the privilege of working with the beautiful shark in the above picture. When lemon sharks are born, they are very small. In fact, some are born at roughly 1.5 feet in length. That is a tiny little shark. This is when people buy them and think they just got a great pet. This species of shark can grow to be over 10 feet in length. Generally speaking, this makes them far too big to be kept in a household aquarium. Even at a young age, lemon sharks can be very aggressive and will not hesitate to bite fish that are both smaller and larger than itself. While in captivity these sharks appear to develop some form of neurological issue that sees them lying on their back convulsing as if they were having a seizure. The sheer size of this shark should be enough to deter people from trying to keep this animal as a pet, but alas it does not. Seeing a lemon shark having to live in an Aquarium is heartbreaking to say the least as this animal really does not do all that well in captivity, but once it lives in a household aquarium and develops that neurological issue, it in all probability would never survive in the wild. As mentioned at the start of this little section, I worked with this specific shark. I can tell all of you that she is doing very well in her new home. However, her place should never have been in an aquarium, let alone a sporting goods store.

Next is a shark that isn't really that aggressive, but gets very large. That would be the nurse shark.

The nurse shark starts out small, roughly 1 foot in length. The perfect length for many household aquariums. What people do not realize is that nurse sharks grow to be 14 feet long. Much like the lemon shark, this puts it way out of the range of the household aquariums. They are nowhere near as aggressive as lemon or blacktip reef sharks as they are bottom dwelling sharks, similar to the small bamboo sharks. Just like the bamboo sharks, this shark will usually eat shellfish. However, this shark will also make a meal out of small bottom dwelling fish as well. Despite being such popular pets, the nurse shark really has no place in a household aquarium. They grow to be far too large and people who keep them, subject them to growth issues and other physical and mental problems that come as a result of being kept in such a small environment.

The next two sharks blow my mind that people even try to keep them as pets. They are the hammerhead and bull sharks.
All right, here we go. First of all, all three species of hammerhead sharks are endangered species. In order to have one as a pet, you are supposed to have special permits, same goes for the bull shark despite it not yet being an endangered species. As with most things though involving pets that people really shouldn't have, people tend to ignore the rules. (Example: Keeping alligators as pets in New Jersey) Hammerheads (with the exception of the smaller bonnethead) start their lives at a cute little 1.6 feet or so. Similar to the lemon shark, they grow to be about 10 feet in length (except the bonnethead that gets to be between 5 and 6 feet). Their hammer shaped heads are even more sensitive than those of the other sharks mentioned. That being said, it is highly suggested that hammerheads are not kept in square tanks. If you ever happen to see a hammerhead, or bonnethead for that matter in a public aquarium, take note of the tank it is kept in. Chances are it is a rounded tank with no true corners. For some reason, corners seem to through the senses of a hammerhead into a spin. This makes keeping them as a pet that much more difficult as the majority of household tanks are square. They can be quite aggressive and their size easily complicates keeping them as pets. Hammerheads are constantly on the move, so they require a ton of space to swim.
The same can be said for the bull shark. They are highly migratory, which means they are constantly on the move. In the case of the bull shark, there is a certain appeal to having one of the Ocean's apex predators living in a person's house. Bull sharks, at birth, are around 2.5 feet in length. Just like the other sharks I've mentioned, the bull shark gets quite large, maxing out at around 8 feet. As with the other sharks, this makes it very hard to house them. They are also the most aggressive shark in the Ocean so it really goes without saying that anything living in an aquarium with them is basically free game.

As i mentioned earlier, I do not think any species of shark should be allowed to be kept in a household aquarium. At this point I also feel that any species of shark that does not breed in captivity should not be in captivity. As amazing as it is to work with sharks, so many of them are threatened with extinction that taking even one out of the Ocean can really affect their numbers. However, for a species that breeds in captivity, I see no reason for them not to be ambassadors of their species. My stance on captivity has been posted in several blogs, so I am not going to go into detail about it here. So, in conclusion, if you absolutely HAVE to have a shark as a pet, go for one of the smaller species I mentioned. Remember though, a shark is a shark, even though it may not be aggressive, it is still higher on the food chain than the other fish in your tank. I'm sure you can figure out the rest. Also, if you HAVE to have a shark as a pet. Do yourself, the sharks, Aquariums, and the Oceans a huge favor. DO NOT PURCHASE ANY SPECIES OF SHARK WITHOUT DOING YOUR HOMEWORK ON IT FIRST!!!!!! Thank you all and have a Happy New Year!!!!!!!    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Whale, Dolphin, Shark Blog

Greetings all. Fast approaching is that famous time of year where families come together to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and (yes that passed already, but still) the New Year. (Sorry for not mentioning the other holidays, happy whatever holiday you celebrate) The same can be said for myself, so this will probably be, barring any major news, the final blog until after Christmas. I'll do a big fat fun one before the end of the year kinda recapping my two campaigns. Anyway, here we go with some whale, shark, and dolphin information that may or may not come as a surprise to you.

As of this morning, the Japanese whaling fleet finally left Japan en route to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. This departure came less than 24 hours after the United States courts decided to tell Sea Shepherd Conservation Society not to interfere with the whaling operations. How the United States has any say over what four vessels registered in Australia and New Zealand that are in international waters is beyond me. Why the United States failed to look at the fact that Australia has a court order that is supposed to keep the Japanese whalers out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The United States President was supposed to aid in seeing an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean, but so far he has not done that at all. Hope is far from lost though when it comes to saving the whales. Sea Shepherd remains 100% committed to securing the whale sanctuary and are not going to submit and allow the whaling to occur. They are currently waiting on board 4 ships, just waiting for the whalers to come in range. This year, the Japanese cut their quota in half. Throughout the course of the past two years, Sea Shepherd interference kept the Japanese from catching 50-75% of it's quota, so the reduction in quota does not come as a surprise to many. It is pretty safe to say that things in the Southern Ocean will soon heat up. I will do my best to share my views and major news on Sea Shepherd's Operation No Compromise. I won't be covering everything, but as whales are certainly something I strive to spread awareness about, I will certainly cover the more important things. For everything involving Operation No Compromise visit

The cove was blue for the second straight day. Nearly all of the dolphins that were in the cove for 6 days were taken for a life in captivity. While these dolphins will be able to live, their lives have changed forever. Though I am for captivity, I am for responsible captivity. As far as I am concerned, any dolphin that is taken out of that cove in Taiji and sent to a marine park has no business being there. Any trainer who goes to the cove and selects and purchases one of those dolphins are one of the most irresponsible trainers in the world. They bear witness first hand to the brutality that occurs in the cove and do nothing about, say nothing about it, but hand money right over to the very people who simply will slaughter any of the dolphins left over. Safe to say these trainers really don't care for the dolphins themselves, rather they care for the money that they will bring to them in the future. There are many places that house dolphins that do it responsibly, using captive bred dolphins and even if they are from the wild, they do not come from the cove in Taiji. The real drive behind the slaughter is money of course. The amount of money the killers in Taiji make from selling a dolphin to a trainer is incredible. On the flip side, the market value of dolphin meat is very low. If the killers simply killed the dolphins, they would make very little money. It is the sale of live dolphins to trainers that keeps this slaughter going.

Shark protection continues to slowly pick up momentum, but the clock is still ticking on many species. Earlier this month, France created the largest shark sanctuary in the world for all of a few days! The sanctuary is located in the south Pacific. After just a few days, the Cook Islands created an even bigger shark sanctuary, a sanctuary that is roughly the size of Australia!!! French Polynesia also listed the mako, the last shark not protected in it's waters to it's protected list. Following in the footsteps of the United States, the European Union (EU), passed a vote to strengthen it's laws against shark finning. The EU did this by doing the same thing the US did, closing the loopholes in the laws by forcing all sharks that are landed to be landed in tact. As 2012 comes to a close, things are starting to look up for sharks. Time is still running out though. According to the WWF, roughly 73 million sharks are killed every year. More and more sharks are dying and due to their low reproduction rate, they are stepping closer and closer to extinction. Still though, things are starting to look up. 2012 thus far was a decent year for sharks, but there is still much work to be done.

Well there you have it folks, the last blog before Christmas. Thank you all again for reading, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope you all have a great holiday and I will hopefully blog again before the New Year. Just because I will not be blogging until after Christmas doesn't mean that Operation Sadistic Truths is on hold. I will continue to post news, photos, etc on Facebook as my work on there is a part of this operation to spread awareness to as many people as I can.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Ongoing Nightmare In Taiji

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Cove Guardians have been documenting and bearing witness to a horrific scene. 5 days ago a pod of roughly 100 bottlenose dolphins were herded into the killing cove in Taiji. Up to this point, over 70 of these dolphins, mostly babies, have been ripped away from their families to become show dolphins somewhere in the world. This brings up the first point in this blog.

Here we are, the year 2012, some 48 years after the debut of the show Flipper. This show and movies have inspired the imagination of countless men, women, and children to become dolphin trainers or at the very least have an interest in these amazing creatures. Of course at the time, there were far fewer dolphins in captivity than their are today. Bottlenose dolphins do breed in captivity. Meaning that at this time, there is zero need to be taking more of these animals out of the Ocean. As I already mentioned, at least 70 dolphins have been removed from the cove destined for a life in captivity. The horrific nightmare these animals face in the cove is truly what it is, a nightmare. These dolphins have been swimming in the cove, netted from freedom, starving, and watching their loved ones ripped away from them one by one. When a dolphin is selected for captivity, it is netted and dragged to a separate holding facility until it is ready to be shipped to where it is going. While in quarantine, the dolphins undergo a heartbreaking training procedure that includes removing the animal from water for an extended period of time. While the killers are attempting to catch one of the dolphins, they show no remorse for the other dolphins in the area. Some of the dolphins are reported to have injuries from boat propellers and two are reported to have died via drowning after being caught in nets.

The nightmare currently going on in Taiji, Japan, is the perfect example of what gives captivity a bad name. The brutality that both these trainers and killers are showing live to the world is nothing short of a tragedy. All these people see are the dollar bill signs that each of these dolphins represent. They don't see them as incredibly intelligent animals that have the mental capacity that probably exceeds some humans. They don't see them as incredibly complex animals capable of communicating with one another and even existing in large family groups. The Cove Guardians have been on watch each and every day and have been broadcasting a live feed at showing these terrible acts to the whole world. Whatever dolphins that are not chosen for a life in captivity will certainly be slaughtered. Next thing to happen will be the killers will return to the sea and bring in a whole new pod. The process will repeat itself because the life of a dolphin is worth more money than the life of the dolphin itself to these people.

Is there an alternative to all of this insanity? The answer is yes. I would love to see a comparison. The amount of money a dead dolphin or a dolphin en route to captivity versus the profits of a touring company that takes people onto boats to watch dolphins in the wild. Sadly, we probably will never know the actual statistic in that comparison since Japan is so dead set on slaughter. For constant updates on this nightmare visit the Cove Guardians Facebook Page.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sea World's "Vicious" Dolphin...

Earlier this month, a video surface of a girl getting bit by a dolphin at Sea World. If you are looking for the video, here it is.

After watching this video several times there are a few things that should really be brought up. First of all, a program like that where guests are allowed to feed large marine mammals with teeth is a set up for disaster. Yes, many zoos and aquariums offer feed the animal programs. Adventure Aquarium for example allows guests to feed stingrays in their ray pool. These are not monster rays. They are smaller species or younger animals that even if they did bite a person, the damage would be minimal, resulting in at most a bruise. Of course, human error can lead to bites as is evident in this video.

One of the rules for this encounter is do not lift the paper plates. Sure enough the girl lifted the paper plate and the dolphin did what it was TRAINED to do. It wasn't the fault of the dolphin in the least bit. Sure you can place a portion of the blame on Sea World for not having tighter regulations and allowing the same program that got 2 people bit a few years back to continue. You can also put part of the blame on the girl. At 8 years old though, how much better can one expect her to know. Really, you could put blame on the parents as well for not assisting the staff of Sea World in watching their daughter and making sure she followed the rules.

In the end though, 3 people getting bit by dolphins at Sea World should really be enough to see an end to or a total reconstruction of that program. Some people want to see this dolphin put down. How in the world can anyone justify that? The dolphin did exactly what it was trained to do. Nobody should want to see this dolphin killed for doing what it was supposed to do. Sea World should really take this incident as an opportunity to educate people on dolphins. I say that because the father of the girl who got bit basically said he had no idea dolphins were capable of biting. Really? Yes. This is where Sea World needs to start being better educators. If an establishment with animals is going to exist it really should exist for one reason, education. Sea World is famous for it's shows. Other facilities are famous for being great education locations.

In the end though, this "vicious" dolphin is totally innocent. The fault of this "attack" lies in the hands of Sea World, the parents of the girl, and the girl herself. Any questions? Watch the video closely and all will really become clear.

If an animal, like a dolphin, is going to be in captivity it should be an ambassador of it's species not a toy for human amusement. That though is a blog for another time... Perhaps next time...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Twelve Days That Changed the World

Have you ever wondered where the idea for the major motion picture, Jaws, came from? Perhaps I should ask have you ever wondered what real event inspired Peter Benchley to write the book? This blog is a step back into time to the second month of World War I. The President of the United States was Woodrow Wilson, and at that point, the United States had not yet entered the war. Wilson was doing everything in his power to keep the United States out of the war, but in the end his efforts would not prove fruitful as the United States did enter World War I. That however, is a different story. In New Jersey the summer of 1916 was already something different to the state. First, the amount of people who were leaving the cities and heading to the shore was staggering in 1916 due to a polio epidemic that was occurring in cities. Second, the summer of 1916 brought on an oppressive heat wave which drew even more people to the shore. Interestingly enough, it was an election year and due to the oppressive summer, President Wilson had moved from the White House to his summer home in Asbury Park, NJ. That alone brought the eyes of the United States to the Jersey Shore.

1916 was a year that was just a few short years removed from the Victorian Period. It was a time of great scientific and technological advances for the United States and gave rise to a rather arrogant and smug attitude in many of the people. (Remember the Titanic sank in 1912 after being declared "unsinkable") With that being said, many of the discoveries that were made were not really applied. (The American Museum of Natural History had fish and insects on display together) With all of that being said, the scene was officially set for what would become the most horrific summer New Jersey had ever seen. Before I go on I feel the need to remind you all that this is an entirely true story. The events that took place from July 1st through 12th, 1916 are all described as best I can.

July 1st 1916: Philadelphia native Charles Van Sant had was staying at the Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven, NJ. It was on this day that he decided to play with a dog in the water. Upon his return to shallow water, he was bitten by a shark. The lifeguard claimed that the shark was still biting Charles and following them to the shoreline. Charles Van Sant would bleed to death and his death certificate stated "Bitten by a shark while bathing". This marked the first time that a shark was blamed for the death of a human in the United States. The reaction of the attack was underwhelming. It received no national attention and didn't really appear anywhere outside of Philadelphia newspapers.

July 3rd, 1916: Bellboy Charles Bruder of the Essex and Sussex Hotel in Spring Lake decided to take a swim on his break. Bruder was attacked by a shark. Before he bled to death, he stated the following words, "a shark bit me". He also described his attacker as "a big gray fellow, and awful hungry". The reaction to this attack was much greater. Beaches from Point Pleasant to Sandy Hook were all ordered to get all swimmers out of the water. This was the first coastwide shark alarm in the United States. Word of the attack on Bruder spread like wildfire and was seen on the covers of newspapers in New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Scientists of the time were very reluctant to call the attack on Bruder a shark attack. Many believed the culprit was either a German U-boat, sea turtle, orca, or a giant mackerel. Governor Fielding blamed a sea monster. The director of the museum, Dr. Frederick Lucas stated that "a shark is not particularly strong in the jaws", meaning that a shark could not cause injuries seen on Bruder.

July 9th, 1916: The impact of the shark attacks faded and beaches all up and down the Jersey Shore were packed again.

July 12th, 1916: Sitting roughly 30 miles north and 16 miles inland of Spring Lake is the town of Matawan. In a time before child labor laws were around, a popular break time activity for kids was to take a swim in the Matawan Creek. Thomas Cottrell, a retired captain spotted a shark swimming in the creek. He quickly ran to town and alerted the townspeople who dismissed him, after all, the Matawan Creek was largely fresh water and was at least 16 miles from the Ocean. Young Lester Stillwell would become the third victim in the 1916 shark attacks. He would go swimming with his friends on his break from work. Lester's friends quickly ran to town to get help. The first to respond was Stanley Fisher, who while searching for Lester's body, was also attacked. About 3/4 of a mile away from the chaos, Captain Cottrell managed to get to a group of boys who were swimming and directed them out of the water. As Joseph Dunn tried to get out of the water he felt a bump and then was bitten on the foot. At first, the doctor who was treating Dunn was afraid to touch the wound because it was believed that shark bites were poisonous! Dunn would become the only person to survive the 1916 shark attacks. Finally, Dr. Lucas's associate, Dr. Nicholas, declared that it could not possibly be an orca that was attacking people as it would not fit into the creek. Thus the shark became the number 1 theory.

Aftermath: Mass chaos had erupted up and down the East Coast. Fisherman began to kill any and all sharks seen in an attempt to kill the "Jersey maneater". Sharks began to appear in political cartoons while scientists quietly changed beliefs that sharks were not dangerous. The attacks nearly crippled New Jersey's economy. Vacancies in hotels from Cape May to Spring Lake was roughly 75%. The residents of Matawan began throwing dynamite and shooting any shadow that appeared in the creek. Even President Wilson called a special cabinet meeting to figure out what to do about the "shark horror that was gripping the Jersey Coast".  

July 14th, 1916: A 7.5ft great white shark was caught about four miles away from Matawan Creek. Dr. Lucas determined that 15lbs of flesh and bone found inside the shark were human, but could not conclude if they were in fact remains of those attacked.

Over 50 years later, Peter Benchley wrote the novel Jaws which turned later into a movie by the same name. It is no secret that Benchley became a shark advocate and stated "Today the shark in Jaws could not be the villain: it would have to be written as the victim; for, worldwide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressor". Great white sharks became one of the most hated animals on the planet as a result of these attacks. The blame though is probably undeserving. Great white sharks can simply not survive the conditions of the Matawan Creek. Bull sharks however, can. So it is entirely possible that a bull, not a great white was responsible for these attacks. One of the most staggering questions though is why did these attacks take place at all. Each one can be broken down into possible theories. Personally, I do not believe there was a man eating shark in 1916. Reason for that is each and every one of the people who were attacked were recovered. Even Lester Stillwell's body was recovered. After being alone with the shark for a good period of time, the shark could have easily eaten him, but it didn't.

In the case of Charles Van Sant: Van Sant was swimming with a dog prior to being attacked. Dogs are awkward swimmers and the noise and vibrations that sharks can detect from a dog swimming are thought to rival that of a wounded fish. The shark in all probability thought that Van Sant was a big wounded fish. To top it off, he was alone, another common factor in shark attacks.

In the case of Charles Bruder: Bruder was swimming in an area by himself. Again, this has become a common occurrence in shark attacks.

In the cases of Lester Stillwell, Stanley Fisher, and Joseph Dunn: The Matawan Creek is incredibly murky. The visibility is virtually zero. For a shark not relying on it's sense of sight, but just what vibrations it is sensing , it really would be incredibly easy to see how the shark can mistake a human for a wounded animal. Kids splashing and playing in water is very similar to a wounded fish. In the murky creek, the shark was most likely confused.

So here are some statistics now so you can all see just how freak of a twelve days these were. According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 18 shark attacks in New Jersey. Out of those, 6 were fatal. The last fatality that was blamed on a shark was in 1960. That mean 18 shark attacks in the last 342 years. On a terrible other side. In New Jersey alone, hundreds of sharks are killed every year. The 1916 shark attacks were a terrible event, but at the same time it was an incredible learning experience for scientists. As a result of these attacks, we know so much more about sharks and how to avoid shark attacks. The things I mentioned above are not reasons that I just made up. They are legitimate reasons for shark attacks. Reasons that were unknown in 1916. If we knew then what we know now about sharks, these attacks could have possibly been avoided. Also, partially as a result of these attacks, sharks have been nearly driven to extinction.

Thanks to Jaws and other movies people in the United States as well as other places around the world are still mortified by sharks. The monster that sharks have been portrayed as is one of the most undeserving portrayals in the world today. For an animal that kills on average less than 5 people every year, they have a worse reputation than animals that kill hundreds of people every year. As far as the man eaters are concerned... They simply do not exist. Well thanks for reading, I hope you understand how freak of an instance these attacks were and how far we have come since then. I also hope you read my other blogs that go into detail about the plight that sharks currently are facing.

As horrific as this story may be, their story is one that is far more horrific and disturbing. Roughly 40 million sharks are killed every year. They need our help. We are their only hope and their greatest threat. If we do not save these animals than people's greed and fear will drive these animals to extinction, which is forever. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Most Misunderstood Animals on Earth

Greetings again everyone. Now that the chaos that is the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has kind of leveled itself out a bit I actually have some time to type up this blog. Needless to say that means Operation Sadistic Truths is back underway. So here we go!

    Sharks have, for a long time now, been considered a misunderstood animal. Out of the over 400 species of shark that live in the Ocean's today, only a small handful have ever attacked, let alone killed a human. Whenever there is a shark attack, it is basically slammed all over the news. It does't seem to matter what is going on in the world, if there is a shark attack, that takes presence over everything. One person getting bitten and in most cases not killed by a shark becomes more important and causes more panic in different places around the world than two countries bombing the existence out of each other. It sounds kind of absurd no? However, it seems to be the world we live in. My question is why do shark attacks have to get media attention almost every time one is reported? Off the top of your head you might think it's because shark attacks are so rare, but that really isn't the case. Yes shark attacks are incredibly rare. Yes sharks kill on average 5 people each year. Here is the kicker. Yes, many people have a massive unjustified fear of sharks. That is the selling point to shark attacks being all over the news when they occur. The media preys on that fear to get people to watch their particular show. When you see a commercial saying "Shark bites man in Florida, full story at 11:00." You better believe that people do, out of fear stay up for what turns out to be something along these lines.... "Today a shark bit a surfer in Florida. The surfer has been taken to the hospital where he or she is expected to make a full recovery. The identity and whereabouts of the shark is currently unknown." There it is. The fear that that shark is still out there, waiting for it's next potential meal to enter the Ocean. Outside of local media stations that should probably report just about everything happening in their community, there is no reason for shark attacks to make state, national, or international news. This past summer was a perfect example the media not only blowing shark attacks out of proportion, but instilling renewed fear of sharks in a lot of people. Here in the United States there were several news stories that hit all major networks involving shark attacks.... in Australia... I'm sorry, but I just do not see what the point in internationally broadcasting that is outside of a poor attempt at making people want to watch the news to see what happened. So now that I've hopefully explained well enough why there is no reason to go into mass panic over shark attacks. Again, they are incredibly rare, in fact your odds of a vending machine (Yes like a Coke or Pepsi Machine) falling on you and crushing you are greater than being bitten by a shark. Also, most shark attacks are not fatal. If you hear on the news that there was an attack, but don't hear anything about the fate of the person who was bitten, assume they are totally fine because the media loves to call out when sharks kill people.

    There have been many species of shark that have been labeled man eaters, killers, monsters, demon fish, man hunters, etc. Some of them have gotten a worse unearned reputation than others. Some in fact have never killed a person, but have been labeled as a man eater nonetheless. The most well known of these species is the common thresher shark. Thresher sharks are a large species of shark with a freakishly large tail. If fact here is a pretty decent picture as to what one of these sharks look like.

File:Alopias vulpinus.jpg
See what I mean about the tail, huge right! All right so what makes this animal a "Man Eater"? The thresher shark has been deemed responsible for 0 unprovoked attacks on humans, 1 provoked attack, and 4 incidents that involved fisherman on a boat. None of these attacks resulted in fatalities. What about that massive tail? There is a heavily fabricated story that a thresher shark once jumped out of the water and cut the head off a fisherman. The head of the man was never recovered and oddly enough, that person's body also seemed to mysteriously vanish. Odd... In reality though, a thresher shark's tail is not sharp at all and would not be able to cut the head off a human. The tail is used to school it's prey of anchovies, mackerel, bluefish, etc. Threshers will slap the surface of the water with their tails to scare fish to the front of them and then eat them. Though this man eater has never KILLED A SINGLE PERSON, it is still a shark that many people fear. It is also heavily threatened with extinction thanks to long line fishing and shark finning practices. If you've read any of my other blogs on sharks you are well aware of both of these practices. Both are highly unsustainable and result in the deaths of OVER 40 MILLION SHARKS EVERY YEAR.

So from that "terrible man eater" I'll move to three species of shark that have been deemed "Man Eaters" despite only killing 1 person between the three species in the last 400 years! These three species of shark are the smooth hammerhead, the scalloped hammerhead, and the greater hammerhead. Hammerheads really need no explanation on their looks as they are one of the most famous species of shark. Here's a picture for anyone who has no clue what these sharks looks like!

Get it? Hammerhead? Well that was lame. Moving on... So we have three species of shark that have been deemed man eaters for killing 1 person in 400 years. On the opposite page of that story, all three of these species are ENDANGERED SPECIES. They are literally being wiped off the face of the Earth for their fins. These sharks come in contact frequently with swimmers, surfers, divers, etc and as witnessed by 1 fatality in 400 years, very rarely bite. They inhabit both deep and shallow waters so it is not uncommon to see them right along the shoreline. In fact, one hammerhead was seen surfing the waves in Seaside Heights, NJ, this past summer. It did not bite anyone, it just minded it's own business. So there you have it. Three more species of shark that have been labeled man eaters that really have not earned that kind of a name at all.

The question probably going through your head right now is "Well what about bull sharks and great white sharks?" Funny you should ask... Bull sharks, in my opinion, the most aggressive of all sharks are a very formidable animal that has been deemed responsible for 17 human fatalities in the last 400 years and have bitten 69 people. Out of the 17 fatalities, there is no confirmed reports of the shark actually eating the person. Even during the New Jersey 1916 Shark Attacks in which a bull shark is often blamed due to the attacks that took place in fresh water (YES BULL SHARKS CAN SURVIVE IN FRESH WATER) not a single person was eaten by the shark. Look at it this way though. Bull sharks live largely in shallow water right along the coastlines in warm waters. I'll use Florida as an example. If you have ever been to Florida, surely you have seen people swimming in the surf. That is the favorite place of bull sharks, right in shallow waters. Within the surf of Florida there is often very curious animals. These large sharks are capable of delivering a killing bite, but rarely do because when they bite, they are usually trying to figure out what a person is. The sense of touch of a shark is not on it's skin like ours, rather it is in their mouths. For an idea of what a bull shark looks like, check out this picture.      
bull shark
Oh look a man eater swimming around people and not eating them! Didn't know that happened....... Moving on again...

Saved what a lot of people would consider the best for last. The great white shark needs no introduction really. The star of the movie Jaws has been paralyzing people with fear since the movie came out. The question though is this. Is that fear really justifiable, and are great white sharks really man eaters? The answer to both of those questions is simply no. I've talked to a few people who have refused to go into the Ocean out of fear of being bitten by a great white shark. They truly believed what they saw in Jaws was real life. Far from it. Great white sharks are incredibly complex and at this point rare animals. Scientists now believe that fewer great whites now live in the Ocean than tigers on land. That would mean less than 2,500 individuals. As of February 2012, great white sharks had been deemed responsible for the deaths of 69 people, that number in reality is slightly larger, but the International Shark Attack File has not yet been updated. So in reality we're looking at probably 72-75 people killed in the last 400 years. Same thing as with bull sharks, great white sharks have never been seen actually eating a person like we see it do in Jaws. There are accounts of great whites severing and eating limbs, but not of the shark returning and eating the entire person. We are just not what they are looking for. Most of the fatalities involved surfers whom the shark mistook as their natural prey, seals and sea lions. From underwater a surfer does look surprisingly similar to a sea lion, so it is pretty easy to understand how an animal that has no clue what a surfboard is and actually rolls it's eyes into the back of it's head before biting has no idea that it is actually biting a person and not a sea lion. Man eater? Hardly. Yes great whites have been linked to more shark attacks than any other species of shark, but again, the fatality number over the last 400 years is realistically small. On average you're looking at great whites killing about 5 people every year. That is a very small number considering hippos, dogs, alligators, cats, ants, and countless other animals kill far, far more people every year. You did read that right. Ants even kill more people every year than great whites. The truth can be shocking huh?

Hopefully now you can see the truth behind the insane things that are said on T.V. when shark attacks occur. When the words man eater become associated with sharks it really sends people into a panic which again is what the media is looking for. All of the statistics and numbers I gave to you today all came directly from the International Shark Attack File. Feel free to use them to educate others because all of the species that I mentioned and many more are facing the very real threat of extinction. Again, less than 2,500 great whites remain and three species of hammerhead sharks are endangered. Thresher and bull sharks are also at a heightened risk of extinction. All of their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate. Extinction is forever and unless the truth about these animals is spread from one side of the world to the other, we will lose all of them forever. Remember. One person can make a difference. Till next time, I leave you all with this picture of a great white shark!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ultimate Feeling of Hopelessness in Taiji

This blog is more of a reaction to current events than it is an informative blog. For those of you who have seen the documentary, The Cove, you as well as myself are well aware of the brutality that is involved in the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society currently has a team stationed in Taiji, named the Cove Guardians, whose mission it is to document the slaughter and expose it to the world. This year, the Cove Guardians have an incredible weapon on their side, a weapon that whose power I and anyone else with a computer could witness. The weapon is a live feed from Taiji. On Friday, I watched as dolphins were driven into the cove to die a horrific death. Not a single part of the process was humane. First of all the way in which the fisherman drive the dolphins into the cove is basically the equivelent to someone banging on a drum right in your ear. The fisherman literally bang on various objects to horrify the dolphins into shallow waters. The pod that was slaughtered was a pod of Risso dolphins, a protected species in the United States. It was a truly heartbreaking experience seeing those animals driven into that cove. The pod literally fought for over an hour, trying to escape death. The fear that those animals had to be experiencing is probably the same as a person would feel if held at gunpoint for over an hour.

Here we are, the year 2012 and Japan is still insisting on killing dolphins. The pod of Risso dolphins, after being netted into the cove were brutally stabbed to death, with the exception of 3 who were set aside for captivity. Again, for those of you who have seen The Cove, you know what I mean by these animals are brutally stabbed to death. For those who have not seen it... Picture yourself being stabbed in the back until you die with what equates to a simple spear. You feel each and every stab and while that's happening you see the rest of your family experiencing the same thing you are. If that doesn't sound heartbreaking than I really do not know the meaning of the word. The three dolphins that survived will become show dolphins for some dolphinarium. Personally, I feel that there are more than enough dolphins breeding in captivity that there is no real reason to be taking more from the wild.

The live feed itself really brought into perspective that this is still happening. It also brought into perspective the sheer number of people that are against this slaughter. Virtually every second that I was watching the feed there were Twitter updates tagging Sea Shepherd and the Cove Guardians as heroes for what they were doing. Along with those thanks came a ton of people calling for the killing to end. Personally I do not use Twitter, but I don't think I've ever seen so many tweets at once or in one place. The feed made it quite obvious that Japan is very nervous about Sea Shepherd being at the cove. There were several different police forces present at the cove along with the Japanese coast guard. They are very much aware that their dirty truth is once again being exposed to the world and it is very easy to see that they are not happy about it. At the same time though, the feed is enabling the Cove Guardians to get slightly better views as to what is going on because the last thing Japan wants to see is their police going up to and starting problems with peaceful protesters. The Cove Guardians will continue to be on the ground in Taiji through March when this slaughter will come to an end for a few months before starting again in September. Japan seeks to kill some 20,000 dolphins total for this season as the entire world watches in disgust and horror. If you are unaware as to how this slaughter takes place follow this link. Fair warning though... It is absolutely heartbreaking.

Dolphins are some of the smartest animals in the world and here is a perfect example of proof on that statement. 9 Japanese fishing boats failed to trap a pod of dolphins in the cove today. The pod managed to escape from under the noses of any sonar equipment and from under the noses of each and every fisherman on those boats. They did this with no technology, just their brains. That is a feat that I seriously doubt any human could achieve, let alone a group of humans.

I applaud each and every one of the Cove Guardians who are on the ground fighting for these amazing animals. Sea Shepherd is truly doing a great thing by having these people documenting and exposing the slaughter to the world. The Cove brought the sadistic slaughter into the light and now Sea Shepherd, with the support of millions of people seek an end to the brutal and unjustifiable slaughter. For more information on the Cove Guardians and Sea Shepherd's campaign in Taiji visit

My next blog will be a return to the world of sharks as Costa Rica bans shark finning......... Again........ Really? Again?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sharks of Arabia Protected!

In the midst of all the turmoil occurring right now in the middle east, it appears that one Arab nation has decided to step up and help take a stand for sharks! The United Arab Emirates has decided that the time is now to protect sharks in the Persian Gulf. Not much is known about shark populations in the gulf, but many of the Ocean's apex predators have been spotted there. it is also one of the few places where groups of female whale sharks have been observed in groups. With an unknown shark population the gulf saw 20,000 tonnes of shark removed in 2011. UAE has now opened the door for the other GCC nations to follow suite in creating protection for sharks. These countries include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. If these nations follow UAE the Persian Gulf would become an area of the world where sharks are a priority.

Despite not knowing the populations of the sharks in it's waters, UAE had laid out the following rules in regards to shark fishing in it's waters in 1999...

Article 23: It is illegal to conduct fishing operations using banned fishing gear or equipment
Article 24: Fishing is impermissible during fertilisation or breeding season (January to April)
Article 26: It is prohibited to fishing for sharks using trawling nets, bottom nets, nylon or drift nets
Article 34: It is prohibited to use explosives, crackers or materials that are harmful, toxic or anaesthetic to aquatics
Article 44: It is forbidden to catch living aquatic creatures to extract their eggs, skins, fins and any other parts (catch must be landed wholly at fish markets).
Article 44: It is forbidden to throw the dead fish waste and carcasses of whales and sharks into the water.
— D.B
Source: Ministry of Environment and Water
The following is a 2011 update that adds the following rules. 
Only launch styled vessels can be used to capture sharks in UAE waters
Vessels must be licensed by the ministry
Fishing capture limited to using only hooks style 1 and 2 and hooks must not exc eed 100 per vessel
Shark capture is prohibited from January to end of April during shark breeding season
Capture of whale sharks and saw fishes prohibited
UAE has set an amazing example for the rest of the Arab world as to what a serious protection plan for sharks should look like. Shark fishing in the Persian Gulf does occur and chances are shark fishing will never be illegal in the Gulf, so this is one of the next best things. The last point I kind of highlighted for a special reason. Saw fishes are endangered so the ban on fishing for them is very much so warranted. The banning of catching whale sharks is also an incredible thing to see. Again, the Persian Gulf is one of the only areas in the world where groups of female whale sharks have been observed. It's importance in the research of these animals is incredible because of that fact!

Like in the United States, shark fishing is something that is not going to go away, but if we can limit the number of sharks being killed through means such as the ones listed, we can begin to save these animals in our own waters. Simply banning shark finning isn't enough, time will tell if the restrictions UAE has put on shark fishing will preserve the shark populations in the gulf. If shark populations appear to stabilize, then UAE's plan could be a model for the rest of the world!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Final Solution in Australia and Ominous Signs in New Jersey

First off, I apologize if the title of this blog has offended anyone, it was not my intention to do so, but it is the topic of this blog.

This past summer sadly saw more shark attacks in one place than any year in recent memory. In Australia, 5 people were killed by sharks off of beaches on the western side of the continent. Since that time there has been an explosion of shark hate and fear, the likes that rival that of the fallout from Jaws. What that means is no good for sharks. In this case, it means that the premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett has issued a final solution for sharks in Western Australia. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "final solution" I will break it down. The Final Solution was Hitler's master plan to eliminate the Jews from the world in an effort to make a "safer and pure" Germany. The effort would lead to the Holocaust in which millions of Jews and others lost their lives for essentially being who they were. Much like Hitler did to the Jews, Barnett has called for the total destruction of sharks. 

Yes it is a very sad thing that 5 people were killed, but there are many factors that need to be remembered. Factors that Barnett clearly has no intention on remembering. First is the overall odds of a shark attack. Statistically speaking you have a better chance of a vending machine falling on you than a shark attacking you. You have a better chance of being killed by ants, yes ants, than being attacked by a shark. Needless to say, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, being in a car accident, or drowning in your bathtub than you do of being attacked by a shark. So the question is why the sudden tiny increase of shark attacks off the coast of Australia? Realistically, nobody knows 100% for sure, but there are several reasons that could have caused the increase of shark attacks in the area.

1.) Overfishing: Much like in the United States, fish populations are decreasing. What that means for the sharks in Australia is that their food is vanishing. So, the sharks start to look elsewhere for their food. They move closer to shore and happen to see a surfer on a surfboard. Chances are that shark has never seen a human so it goes in for a curiosity bite. The sharks are not trying to eat people at all in this case as none of the 5 people attacked were eaten. Simply put. Lack of fish in the Ocean does to sharks what massive food shortages do to humans. It makes them desperate and not want to starve so they move in closer to shore since they can't find food in the open Ocean, and sadly wind up accidentally getting themselves involved with people. In the case of people, starving and desperate people have been known to actually eat each other. So the concept of starvation and desperation should not be new. 

2.) Accidental Baiting: Sharks have an incredible sense of smell. They can sense a drop of blood in water from a mile away. Australian fishing boats could very well accidentally be attracting sharks closer to shore. One very popular method of fishing is called chumming. For those who don't know, chumming involves throwing ground up fish into the water to attract larger fish. It makes perfect sense for a fisherman to want to do this, but at the same time, chumming can and does attract sharks. Many charter boats are known to start tossing chum overboard while returning from a trip. Sharks can and do follow the chum into shallow waters near beaches. In this case, it is not the sharks fault some people decided to give it a free meal up to the beach. Where there is food, the shark will generally stay until it's ready to move on. 

3.) The Case of Mistaken Identity: This one is pretty simple to understand too. Picture a great white shark swimming through the water. Now picture what a sea lion would look like from underneath. Long body, two short flippers in front and two short flippers in the back. Keep that image in your head and picture a surfer lying on a board from underneath. Long body, two short flippers in front, and two short flippers in the back. Well what do you know? They look quite similar don't they? Almost every time a shark bites a surfer, the shark leaves and does not return. Simply put. WE ARE NOT ON THE MENU. 

So here is the plan. The plan in Western Australia, if implemented would be simple. Hire people and spend tax dollars on killing every single shark that is seen near a human in the Ocean. Sounds like a joke right? It's not. This plan would see men on beaches with weapons waiting to blow any sharks head off if it is seen near a human. I really have to stress the word any because there are many endangered species of shark that can be found in the waters of Western Australia. One of those is the Great White Shark which is estimated to have a global population of roughly 3,500. In a sense, this call to exterminate sharks would be the same as calling for the extermination of whales or any other endangered animal on land or sea. The ironic thing in this case is that the animal that is being exterminated is responsible for less human deaths than household dogs every year. The basis of the plan is to increase security at beaches for surfers and swimmers. Not for nothing, but if there is a moving shark near me I am not going to want anyone shooting at an animal that is right next to me. The danger of that in itself would be enough to deter me from going into the water. Chances are high that someone will accidentally be shot which will do nothing but cause more problems. 

If this final solution in Australia occurs we could see a drastic change in the local scene out there. Different species of fish will start to take over and local fisheries could easily find themselves with far more problems than a lack of fish. With no sharks the seas simply cannot survive which brings us to an incredibly ominous sign that has started to happen in New Jersey.

There has been much talk about the cost of living going up everywhere. Gas prices are insanely high, food costs more than it did, taxes are up, etc etc. Hidden by the increasing costs of seafood, in this case scallops, a much larger problem lurks. This year, New Jersey saw an increase in the price of scallops. To fisherman the price increase means more profit which makes them happy of course, but the concerning statistic isn't the fact that the price went, it's why. The increase in the price of scallops is not a part of the ever increasing cost of living. The number of scallops caught this year was far less than in years prior. What that means is less supply and a high demand. This caused the prices to go up. There are simply not enough scallops to go around anymore and I have a gut feeling that we will continue to see a decrease in scallop catches over the next few years. Now what does all of this have to do with sharks? The answer is simple, the food chain. Over the last two years New Jersey and other east coast states have seen a sharp rise in ray populations. Naturally rays eat shellfish such as clams, scallops, etc. In New Jersey, a ray has virtually no predators. The majority of sharks that come close to shore in New Jersey generally do not eat rays. These species include sandbar sharks, young sand tiger sharks, dogfish, and others. Naturally, large species of shark keep ray populations in check. Despite so many shark sightings this summer, there were virtually no sightings of sharks that often prey on rays. The one exception was the sighting of a lone hammerhead. Tiger, bull, large sandbar, hammerheads, dusky, and porbeagle sharks all eat rays and are normally seen off of New Jersey during the summer. Over the past few years though this has simply not been the case. 

What we are potentially seeing here is the start of a food chain collapse. Man kills over 70 million sharks every year for various unsustainable and twisted reasons. There are not enough sharks left in the Ocean to effectively keep food chains together anymore. With the lack of sharks in New Jersey, here is what is starting to happen. Ray populations are increasing rapidly as shark populations decrease. As a result, shellfish populations are decreasing rapidly. Shellfish are filter feeders which means that as they vanish, water qualities will begin to change. With no food left the rays will eventually die off and all that will be left is an Ocean in chaos. Not only will this particular food chain collapse, but it will cause the collapse of countless others. Shellfish are so important to the Oceans that in reality, without them there can be no clean Ocean. The only hope the shellfish have is that sharks are saved now. Sharks are the only thing preventing the seas from becoming barren underwater wastelands where nothing will be able to survive. In the end that spells just one thing for life on land... Death...    

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Chess Game in the Southern Ocean Begins

December is just a few short months away and that means that the famous "Whale Wars" will once again be waged in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As usual the combatants in this war will be the Japanese Whaling Fleet and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Over the past two years, Sea Shepherd has by far held an advantage in the war over the whalers. Last year the Japanese whalers caught less than 25% of what their quota was. Japan has directly pointed the finger at Sea Shepherd for this, which Sea Shepherd sees as a victory. This year though, it appears the pieces are already moving as Japan appears more than desperate to get away from Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Japan has continued to divert funds from the tsunami relief effort to buff security on it's whaling ships. Japan has also made public statements stating that the whaling fleet will not be going south this year due to repairs that are needed on the factory ship. Sea Shepherd informants however have discovered the whaling fleet's docking area and sure enough the factory ship is getting loaded and ready to head south as is the rest of the whaling fleet. So Japan claiming that they are not going south this year really mounts to nothing but a really poor attempt at getting Sea Shepherd off of their backs for the year. Last year the Japanese whaling fleet consisted of one factory ship, 2 harpoon vessels, and a security vessel. These vessels were opposed by the Sea Shepherd fleet of 2 ships, one high speed trimaran, several unmanned drones, and a helicopter. Odds are the whaling fleet has not increased in size due to the millions and millions of dollars that Sea Shepherd has cost the industry over the past few years. Sea Shepherd however is now ready to match the whaling fleet ship for ship with the addition of a fourth, unknown vessel. 

What I mean by that is that nobody knows what this boat looks like. Nobody knows where it is. Nobody knows how fast it is. Nobody really knows anything about it with the exception of those close to Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson. What role this boat will have in the anti whaling campaign remains to be seen, but chances are it could wind up being the final nail in the coffin for the Japanese Whaling Fleet. So why in the world does this war get waged every year?

Every year from December into the Spring the Japanese Whaling Fleet goes down to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to perform what they call scientific research. The claim that research is going on down there is part of a loop hole that exists on the moratorium of commercial whaling. The hole states that whales can be killed for scientific research and only in that case can the meat be sold. Japan has fought feverishly to have the moratorium reversed while still killing whales for profit. There has been no research coming from Japan in the Southern Ocean for years, a big sign that chances are there is no research going on. Another issue lies within the whalers hunting grounds themselves. The hunting grounds are located within an Australia controlled whale sanctuary. So in a sense what the whalers are doing is really not different than what poachers do in wildlife reserves around the world. They go down there, they kill, they make profit. Australia has threatened to take Japan to court over the issue, but so far they have not stepped up to the plate. What the Japanese Whaling Fleet is doing is illegal. There is to be know killing of whales in that whale sanctuary, that is Australian rule. There is to be no commercial whaling. That is the rule of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Japan breaks both of these rules, but Australia won't step up to the plate to do something about it and in the IWC other problems exist. Those problems include Japan threatening smaller nations if they do not cooperate in their bid to see the moratorium overturned. Prostitution has entered the IWC with Japanese representatives offering prostitutes to other representatives in exchange for their cooperation. The most common problem though is bribery. Nothing speaks louder in this world than cash. Japan apparently has enough to throw at other countries in order to keep their dying industry alive while it's own people continue to be homeless after the tsunami. 

So the scene is set for what could be the final act in the whale wars. Sea Shepherd has the Japanese whalers against the ropes, but only time will tell if this will truly be the last stand for the whalers. Both Sea Shepherd and the Japanese Whaling Fleet are set to head down to the Southern Ocean in late November/early December. For Sea Shepherd, the Operation is entitled No Compromise. I will be passing on any news I see about the operation here as a part of Operation Sadistic Truths. I will present both sides of any story that I can find information on and weigh in my opinions. So stay tuned here for more info on Operation No Compromise as it becomes available or check out for more information as well. My next blog will be the first shark blog of Operation Sadistic Truths.

Monday, September 24, 2012

PG&E Seeks to Decimate Wildlife Off of California

Pacific Gas and Electric is seeking to do underwater seismic testing off the coast of California to ensure that the operation of a nuclear power plant continues. The plant, named Diablo Canyon, is situated right on an active earthquake fault. What PG&E is seeking to do is unleash seismic shockwaves for 90 miles along central California's coast to help geologists map out the fault. One PG&E representative stated “the proposal calls for a 240-foot ship to tow a quarter-mile wide array of twenty 250 decibel “air cannons,” along a 90-mile stretch of California’s Central Coast. The cannons will shoot deafening underwater explosions once every twenty seconds, day and night, for 42 days and nights." 

What does this all mean to the wildlife off of California. Devastation. Nothing more, nothing less. Any animal that is anywhere near these air cannons will be basically shredded. This includes whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, turtles, otters, sea lions, seals, and fish. What will these tests do to the animals? It's really simple. In the case of sharks, rays, and other animals with gills the air will blast through them causing massive internal bleeding. Seals, sea lions, whales, turtles, and other air breathers with have their lungs basically burst. At the mouth of the air cannons there is going to be a 240dB blast that would easily take away the hearing of any animal, including humans. This is a huge problem for animals such as dolphins and whales that rely so much on their ability to hear each other and other animals. How do we know that this is a sure thing? Other places around the world have used this type of testing and the results of the maps were only moderate, however, the damage to the wildlife was severe. For weeks after the testing marine animals including dolphins, whales, and various fish washed up with blood coming from their ears, eyes, and mouth. These are major signs of severe internal bleeding that were found to be the result of the tests. 

Within the testing area is the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve. Environmentalists suspect that these tests will wipe out the entire reserve which contains many species of  whale including the incredible rare blue whale, humpback whales, pygmy sperm whales, along with a wide variety of other marine mammals and fish. The fear is that every animal, right down to plankton will be destroyed in the reserve. Outside of the reserve, PG&E have virtually admitted that they will wipe out a ton of marine life. They did this by offering local fishing companies compensation for their impending catch losses. 

These tests are a really ill conceived plan to keep a nuclear power plant operating right on top of an active fault. The tests are not going to be able to map out the fault the way PG&E would like them to, which is evidenced by past tests in other regions. In the end, thousands, if not millions of animals could die for a moderately effective test that will do nothing but ensure that the Diablo Canyon power plant continues to operate a little longer. The tests are scheduled to begin in November and run through December. This is a HUGE threat to all forms of Oceanic wildlife living off the coast of California. Please take the time to contact Senator Sam Blakeslee and ask him to reconsider his bill because seismic testing is too destructive to proceed at:

Senator Sam Blakeslee
4066 State Capitol
California 95814  

Visit for more information on this new threat to the wildlife off of California or stay tuned here for updates on the situation as they become available.

Update: 10/3/2012

Time continues to tick down for the wildlife off the coast of California. As if on cue, there have been a few ominous signs appearing about the fate of the wildlife in the area.  In Uruguay, three orcas have washed up on shore, dead. The large dolphins appear to have been the victims of seismic testing. Seismic testing is taking place in an area where a future oil rig will stand and the death toll on the local wildlife is currently unknown. None the less, the fate of the three orcas is evident. Blood coming from their eyes, mouths, and blowholes. Seismic testing will continue in Uruguay for some time, but there is huge questions as to what will happen to the wildlife in the area. Chances are they will suffer the same fate that the animals of California will face if seismic testing begins there. Unlike the United States, there isn't really a large number of people who are aware as to what is going on in Uruguay. The people of the United States can simply not allow the seismic testing off of California to commence. Please contact the above Senator and help countless sea animals including whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles, and countless species of fish.

Visit for more information on this new threat to the wildlife off of California or stay tuned here for updates on the situation as they become available.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The World's Largest Humpback Whale Nursery to be Destroyed?

Humpback whales have fought back from the brink of extinction, but they still remain one of the world's most endangered species of whale. Humpbacks are amazing creatures with incredible social lives and a ton of secrets that nobody even knows about. Now, their largest nursery ground is being threatened by take a wild guess... Man.

Woodside, the largest gas and oil producer in Australia now wants to see the largest humpback whale nursery in the world turn into an offshore drilling site. In order to get the go ahead from the Australian Government Woodside undertook what is being called the largest study of humpback whales off of James Prince Point. According to the study, the majority of whales were seen more than 30KM off the coast of Australia. In fact, their study claims just 5% of the whales were seen within 8KM of the coast.

In an effort to save the nursery, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society teamed up with the people of Broome and the Australian Greens Leader, Bob Brown to do their own study. The results were quite different than what Woodside has led many to believe. Contrary to the Woodside Study, Sea Shepherd founded that over 100 whales were seen within 8KM of the coast every day. Many of the sightings were as suspected, mother whales and their calves. Some of the whales were actually swimming and nursing less than a mile away from the proposed construction site. Another study conducted by the Kimberly Community Whale Research Project further confirms the falsehood that Woodside has published. This project counted 1423 individual whales seen withing 8KM of the coast. The time of this study was from July 1st and August 7th. Of the 1423, 95 were nursing calves.

Despite both of these conclusive studies Woodside still seeks to turn the world's largest humpback nursery into another gas/oil rig that will do nothing but destroy the surrounding ecosystem. This includes this humpback nursery. Humpbacks have a lot to deal with in the wild. For one, they were hunted to near extinction from many years of overfishing. To this day they still are hunted by Japan in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Now they are dealing with another problem not of their making. For many years the humpback whales have been trying to survive in a world where people clearly do not care enough for the Oceans. We need to protect this nursery or risk sending humpback whale populations plummeting once again.

In the words of Bob Brown “Seeing the whales off James Price Point, mothers, babies, bull whales, seeing the count, going up into the thousands of these whales, the assurance that they will be ok with a mega port, mega ships and a huge factory ashore, is now clearly proven wrong.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Dead Cove is Coming to Life

This image looks kinda pretty doesn't it. To the majority of people in the world this is just a pretty cove in Taiji, Japan. They are pretty accurate in that though, I mean the scenery is beautiful. However this cove holds a horrific and one of the most sadistic secrets in the world. Every year, this pristine little cove is the death place of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of dolphins and other small cetaceans. How does this slaughter happen you ask? It occurs in a few simple steps.

1.) The Japanese fishing fleet finds a pod of dolphins near the cove and scares them in.
2.) The cove is netted off preventing the dolphins from escaping.
3.) The dolphins that appear to be in the best shape, along with baby dolphins that appear healthy are brought into a separate holding area.
4.) Aquarium and Dolphinariums send people to inspect the dolphins in the separate holding area. Any dolphin purchased is shipped off to its destination.
5.) Just a day or so later, the slaughter begins. Any dolphins that were not taken are killed along with the rest of the pod. Infant, juvenile, adult, it does not matter they are killed.
6.) The dolphins are processed and sold for food.


Your might be thinking ok, well at least they're killing them for food, but just how are they killing them? Originally the method used to kill the animals was a simple slit to the throat. That has since changed to what Japan considers a more humane way. That way would be driving a iron spear into the back of the neck of the dolphin. Japanese officials claim this brings almost instant death to the dolphin, but video and images of the slaughter suggests a much different story. The fisherman basically stab these animals to death, cut their throats, or just brutalize them to death. It is far, far from a instantaneous death.
(Fisherman "humanely killing a dolphin)      (Dolphins being loaded onto a boat)

Now you may be thinking, ok that's messed up, but Japan has to feed itself. Even the sale of dolphin meat has its own dirty secrets. First of all, much like with whale meat, Japan has stockpiles of dolphin meat from past years. The government of Japan got so desperate to get people to eat dolphin that they introduced it to schools for lunch in Taiji. This practice was short lived as the amount of mercury in the dolphins was discovered to be roughly 10 times the Japanese Health Ministry advised. Of course parents did not want their children getting sick from eating lunch at school, so dolphin meat was removed from school menus. As stockpiles of dolphin increased, more attempts to get rid of the meat were and are still being made today. One of those attempts involves what some would consider a cheap trick. Packing industries have packages dolphin meat, but labeled it as something else such as minkie whale meat that sells for a higher price. Don't let this practice fool you, it does not only happen in Japan, for example, in the United States scallops in some supermarkets on the East Coast have turned out to really be stingray parts cut to look like scallops. Still though, further proof that the dolphin meat was just not moving on its own. What that means is that, contrary to what the Japanese Government wants, the vast majority of Japanese people do not eat dolphin. So why is this allowed to happen? Why aren't the people voicing their concerns?

(Dolphin meat labeled as whale meat)

The answer to those questions are simple. It wasn't until the crew of the award winning documentary, The Cove, was released that the Japanese public were truly informed about what was happening in the cove. In other words, the slaughter was hidden from the public. The entire area around the cove becomes fenced off and heavily guarded so nobody can see the killing. While the dolphins are still alive people can come and see from a distance, but the entire area shuts down until the waters run blue again. Since The Cove was released, the consumption of dolphin has dropped even more and the people are becoming more aware of the situation and are starting to rally against it.

(Sign designed to keep protesters and the public out of the cove)

As I type this blog there are roughly 20-22 pilot whales currently trapped in the cove. As with all other animals brought in, these whales will have to wait for a day or two before being brutally slaughtered. Whales and especially dolphins are incredibly smart animals. They know when they are trapped in an are, and just like us, they do have emotions. The panic and despair that has been recorded of these animals is truly heartbreaking. The slaughter of dolphins in Taiji has no place in the world. The majority of people in Japan do not eat dolphin and with the insanely high mercury levels it contains, no one really should for their own health. If you have never seen The Cove, I strongly suggest watching it. It is a very graphic film, but the message is so clear and powerful that it really drives home the fact that something needs to be done.

Think back to the start of this blog. Remember that beautiful little cove? Here is the truth of that cove. Here lives the horror and brutality unlike anything the marine mammal world has ever known.

(The cove just after a slaughter)

(Dolphins being trapped in the cove)

(Dolphins being taken away for processing)

(Another massacre)

For more information on The Cove visit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Whale is Safe

Currently, Japan is working it's annual coastal whaling season. Much like the Antarctic Whaling Season, the Japanese set out to kill a set number of whales. Normally the Japanese target specific species, but it appears this year that that may not be the case. Just a few days ago this image surfaced on the internet from Japan.
Posted Image

What this is an image of is a rare beaked whale being dragged onto a dock to be processed. You can see a spear sill in the head of the whale that had to fight for a long time before dying. The purpose of this kill was just like every other kill Japan makes, profit. Beaked whales are incredibly rare. The conservation status of these whales is largely unknown and conservation dependent. Only a few species of beaked whales has been identified, but there are more out there that scientists have not seen enough of to describe.

Besides the fact that the vast majority of the world opposes Japan's Whaling Operations, beaked whales have another reason that they should not be killed. Unlike the baleen whales, beaked whales have sharp teeth. As you might expect, these whales tend to eat fish and squid. Some of these fish are towards the top of the food chain and as with sharks, this causes toxins to build up inside the whale, causing the animal to become virtually toxic for human consumption.

Commercial Whaling in general is internationally banned by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Japan manages to get around the ban by claiming they are killing whales for scientific research. The IWC allows whales to be killed for research and the meat can be sold. The big issue with Japan is that they are not doing any research. They kill the whale, bring it onto the mothership, process it, and then sell the meat. The organs and other undesirable parts are usually just tossed back into the sea. So Japan continues to exploit the "Research" loophole despite not turning out any kind of research for many years now. Japan will continue it's coastal whaling program until they begin their Antarctic Whaling Campaign in December. It is here that once again, the conservation group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will intercept the whalers and expose the truth. Sadly though no nation has stood up to the Japanese at the IWC and Japan continues to pressure, bully, and bribe smaller nations to vote their way, causing a lot of nothing to come of the annual IWC meetings.

It's the year 2012, there are warehouses with whale meat from years ago still waiting to be sold. It's more than obvious that the vast majority of Japanese people do not eat whale, yet the Japanese Government continues to allow the Whaling Industry to continue their dying tradition to try and scrape a few more dollars into the country. The issue with this is that the last 2 years, Japan has actually lost a great sum of money by sending its ships down to Antarctica only to return with less that 50% of their quota. So it makes even less sense for Japan to continue whaling. It's 2012, commercial whaling has no place in the world!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome to Operation Sadistic Truths

In our world, there are slaughters going on in the seas. Some of the world's most majestic creatures are being ruthlessly hunted down for money. This campaign will expose these slaughters for what they really are, an series of unsustainable practices that really have no place in the world today. The main focus of this campaign will be on three different animals, dolphins, whales, and sharks. All three of these animals are being hunted to extinction. It is up to man to fix this, but first, they all must become aware of these slaughters. For right now, I will give a brief overview on each slaughter and from now through March 2013, I will go into more and more detail about the slaughters and current events regarding each of them.

Dolphins: Several days ago in the small town of Taiji, Japan, the annual dolphin slaughter began. Every year, hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered in this one town for multiple reasons. Following the documentary, "The Cove", more and more people have become aware of what is truly going on in the town of Taiji. The dolphins are slaughtered for consumption. Most people see no problem with killing to eat, but there are some  major issues with how this slaughter happens, its sustainability, and exactly what the true objective of the slaughter is. This will become a trend in all three slaughters, that of course would be for profit. The barbaric way in which the fisherman go about killing these creatures is simply cruel and in all counts unusual.

Whales: Every year, Japan sends a whaling fleet down to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to pillage it of its Minkie Whale population. Along with the Minkies, the whalers also target endangered fin and humpback whales. Whaling has been a part of the culture of Japan for many years, but over the last decade the vast majority of the country have gained a new view on whaling. Currently sitting in multiple warehouses in Japan rests the meat of whales that were killed two years ago. Simply put, whale meat is no longer selling in Japan, so the question is what is the motivation now behind the whaling fleet? Again... Money.

Sharks: Around the world, millions of sharks are being killed exclusively for their fins. The primary motivation behind this slaughter is again money. Many species of shark are now threatened with extinction while others have become endangered species. This slaughter is largely unregulated and virtually any shark that is caught by sharks finners will be finned regardless of species or age. Shark fin soup, a soup that is chicken or beef flavored, is usually the end result of shark finning. The shark's fin adds a gelatinous texture to the soup, but adds no nutritional value at all. Previously served only by the Emperor of China, shark fin soup has exploded into a major issue in the world today. People are now only starting to realize the damage shark finning is causing. The race is on to save these animals.

All of these animals desperately need our help before they are lost forever. Join the fight to save these animals by spreading the word about their plights. Stay tuned as the sadistic truths of the seas are revealed.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Operation Bleeding Seas Finale!

At the start of the summer I began this new blog and with some help, named my first campaign Operation Bleeding Seas. The summer focused largely on sharks but also expanded into manta rays and whales as well. The campaign was a huge success and I would like to thank you all for reading and helping spread the word about these often times forgotten about issues. With Operation Bleeding Seas coming to a close, there are still a few things that I would like to mention in regards to sharks and manta rays.

When I found out about the plight of manta rays, I was shocked to hear about what was going on. I couldn’t believe that people would be so greedy as to literally hunt down one of the sea’s gentle giants. Awareness of this issue has increased substantially throughout the summer and the “Manta Ray of Hope” movement is starting to take off. There is no legitimate medicinal value to a manta ray. Anything that is said about the health benefits of consuming manta ray gill rakers is nothing more than a very effective scam. Most people will believe anything they hear. They hear gill rakers lead to health benefits, so suddenly gill rakers become a massive industry. It is all hearsay as there is no medical evidence suggesting that gill rakers do anything for human health. What is going on in the Ocean right now is nothing more than an unjustifiable purge of both manta and mobula rays. Neither species of ray are dangerous in the least bit and neither have ever killed a human being. The gill raker trade is still young and unlike the shark fin trade, it is not entrenched in society yet. There is still time, albeit limited time, to cut this trade off before it becomes a part of Eastern Culture and manta and mobula rays are forced to extinction. I will continue to fight for these rays throughout the winter, though the number of blogs may be few, rest assure, when the time is right I will voice my opinions to you all. To wrap up my manta and mobula ray portion of the campaign, here are some beautiful pictures of these gentle creatures. Remember, manta rays reproduce incredibly slowly and some only give birth to one pup in their entire lives and in that can be found the truth as to why we simply cannot go out there and destroy their populations.

The main topic of this season’s campaign was sharks. When it comes to animals, sharks are my number 1 thing and if you were unable to tell that from this blog, then I don’t really know what to tell you. Sharks are one of, if not the most important animals in the Ocean. Without sharks the Oceans are going to be in a TON of trouble. Though Hollywood and the media continue to instill fear into the hearts of millions, people are starting to see the truth about these animals. Sharks will continue to be at the forefront of my future campaigns as the race to save these animals rages on. The summer of 2012 saw several people in Australia be killed by sharks. The victims were surfers who really were at the wrong place at the wrong time (surfing near seals at dawn/dusk). Australia is continuing to debate calling for a cull of white sharks in the area while other parts of the world seek to have the white shark officially placed on the endangered species list. The thing a lot of people continue to fail to realize though is that it is not just white sharks that are in trouble. Shark finning and long line fishing are both indiscriminant. If there are fins on shark, then that is cash in the fisherman’s pocket and one less “monster” in the world. Here are some amazing photos of how sharks DESERVE to be! Remember, much like manta rays, sharks reproduce slowly and give birth to few young. This makes these animals incredibly vulnerable to overfishing. Every year over 100,000,000 are killed solely for their fins.

So what is next for me? Looking forward, the next campaign will start right after Labor Day. The focus of this campaign will once again be sharks, but they will be joined by both dolphins and whales as the main focuses of the campaign. In this upcoming campaign I will continue to voice my views and try to educate you all  on some of the forgotten or hidden horrors of the world. I will dive deep into the heart of Taiji, Japan and uncover the truth behind the mysterious "Cove". I will follow Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's campaign to the Southern Ocean to defend the whales as well as other whaling related issues around the world. I will also continue to spread the truth about the mysterious creature known as a shark and continue to spread the word about the horrific practice of finning. I will also be doing occasional blogs on seals and manta rays as well. Operation Bleeding Seas has now come to an end. Once again, I cannot thank you all enough for reading and do hope you will join me on September 4th for the first blog of Operation Sadistic Truths.