Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Voice for the Voiceless Blog Number 100!

Greetings everyone and welcome to blog number 100 of A Voice for the Voiceless!!! 

As you can probably tell by the picture above, I am quite excited to be typing this blog right now. So here we are blog number 100. I've got a lot to go over with you guys so I guess I'll start with myself. It's occurred to me that I never really explained where I came from or how this blog even came to be, so I guess that's a good place to start.

My name is Doug Hack. I have lived near the ocean my entire life. In fact it is withing easy walking distance so you could probably guess the amount of time I've spent at the beach/in the ocean. I've always had an interest in marine life, but it wasn't until my later that I really wanted to protect it. So when did my interest in protecting marine life start? It was sometime in late 2008 or early in 2009, but I was watching a replay of the first season of Whale Wars on Animal Planet. At the time, I had no idea that whaling still existed in the world and when I saw real people taking direct action to defend marine life, I was quickly inspired. I did a bunch of research, read a few books (I don't typically read) and really found myself admiring the people on those ships and those of the past who had done the same thing to defend marine life. I used to have another blog which is no longer active that I used more like a journal, but I found myself updating it with Sea Shepherd relating things from their campaigns. Kind of what I do now, except with less detail, but nonetheless, it was a start. Fast forward to the summer of 2009.

Have you ever heard of a movie changing someones life? Well in the summer of 2009 that is exactly what happened. I had watched the movie The Cove. Throughout most of the movie I figured I'd eventually see a couple dolphins get shot or taken into captivity. What I saw though absolutely changed my life and certainly my views on how dolphins wind up in captivity. If you don't know what I mean and say that you care about dolphins. I want you to do me a 3 minute favor. Watch this clip from The Cove. It is incredibly graphic, but it is 3 minutes that changed my outlook on dolphins.
From then on, dolphins joined my old blog that was slowly becoming less about myself and more about these animals.

During the summer of that same year while establishing a Shark Week program at my job, I had stumbled upon the practice of shark finning. To say that I was horrified, mortified, angered, and about to fly off the handles was an understatement. I remember sitting at a computer desk and seeing a hammerhead get it's fins cut off and then be thrown back into the sea. Something inside me snapped that day. It really did. I don't know what it was, but whatever it was that was the end of it. My personal Facebook account started to become flooded with news articles, pictures, etc in an effort to spread awareness for sharks specifically. Yet again, my old blog became more about these animals and less about me, this time with a fury not seen before.

This is actually the first image of shark finning I had ever seen. I looked up shark conservation on google and this was the first thing that caught my eye. Hammerheads are one of my favorite species of shark so to see one with no fins instantly drew my attention. It also instantly stirred up feelings I'd never felt before.
Fast forward to 2011.

Wild Aid put out a report on manta and mobula rays that once again shocked me after reading. I learned that these gentle giants will being slaughtered for nothing but their gill rakers. The slaughter reminded me heavily of shark finning. Killing an animal for one small part of the animal's body. Also, much like shark finning, there was next to no regulations. Yet again I felt myself having a need to try to do whatever I could do to help these animals. I didn't know much about mantas at the time, and I still don't know as much about them as I would like to, but one thing after reading that report became clear to me. 
This animal right here has no reason to be killed by humans ever. They have never and will never harm a human and well just look how majestic they are...

So yet again those feelings of needing to help anyway I could once again crept up on me.

Then, on June 19th, 2012 I decided I had had enough of just using Facebook as my weapon and created this blog! In the days leading up to it I had asked a few friends to help come up with a name for what would become my first operation. Thanks to the help of a good friend, Operation Bleeding Seas was named and on the 19th of June it began. The campaign was largely dominated by blogs about sharks as well as manta and mobula rays. There were also a few blogs about Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. By the time the campaign ended, I felt nearly overwhelmed sort to speak. So I decided that the next campaign I did, which started right after Labor Day of 2012 would be the first to focus on specific animals. Those were sharks, whales, and dolphins as they are during my current campaign.

My second campaign, Operation Sadistic Truths sought to expose the nasty truths of the world when it came to sharks, dolphins, and whales. The campaign saw some high highs and low lows. Things such as the sharks of Arabia became protected and the nightmare of the cove being exposed on this blog. However, in November, Hurricane Sandy pretty much flipped my life upside down for a while, so naturally the campaign had to be put on hold until life kind of straightened itself out again. The month of November saw just one blog. By the time January rolled around I had really followed Sea Shepherd's campaign pretty closely and had kept all of the readers of this blog up to date, including when this incident happened in January.
The final blog of Operation Sadistic Truths featured a milestone for sharks. Smooth, Scalloped, and Great Hammerheads, alone with Porbeagle and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks were listed under Appendix II of CITES. Talk about a way to end a campaign hoping to raise awareness for sharks.

Due to a major change in life, the future of this blog was left in complete uncertainty. After taking most of March and all of April off, I decided that I simply could not allow what was going on in my life to stop me from tying to protect these animals anymore. Thus Operation Forgotten was launched! For the first time, I added the bluefin tuna to one of my campaigns. Then I had my first real experience at a shark kill tournament. I typed a blog with a first hand account of what was going on at the tournament weigh in. Without going into any details you can probably figure out how I felt when I got this photo...

Yeah.... No words need to be said for that anger... I don't know how it happened, but that blog had over 100 views making it the first of my to reach that mark. Honestly I felt pretty proud and actually felt like I was actually making somewhat of a difference somewhere. I also finally decided it was time to tear into Discovery Channel's Shark Week and try to do damage control for sharks since they just seem to enjoy demonizing them so much. This blog also became linked to on the Shark Research Institute's website www.sharks.org over the summer which I am still incredibly grateful for! That leads us to now!

Operation Kibou has easily been my best campaign yet. I have to say that the number of people who are visiting this blog now far surpass any number that I could have ever imagined. When I started this blog I started it with the idea that if just one person would read it, think about it, and tell one other person about it, then I would have accomplished something. Now whether or not all these people are actually reading the blog is beyond me, but people are seeing it. All I can do now is just keep hoping that at least one of those people will decide to be a voice for the voiceless and tell their friends, family, etc about the plight of these animals. In the end we are really nothing without them, so it is imperative that we keep fighting for them.

Operation Kibou has already seen plenty of blogs, in fact, Operation Kibou has seen 31 blogs! Operation Forgotten had 17ish throughout the entire campaign. This is nowhere near finished either. There are massive fights going on around the world for these animals now. Sea Shepherd left earlier today to once again confront the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean, Anonymous and the Cove Guardians continue to fight against the dolphin hunters of Taiji, and shark conservation groups around the world continue to fight and see success in gaining more protection for sharks. More regulations are starting to slowly appear for manta rays, and the fate of the bluefin tuna remains in serious question. There is a lot going on and I will continue to do my best to keep anyone who reads this blog up to date and continue to offer my thoughts and opinions (for what they're worth) on those issues.

So what's in the future? I want to keep this blog going as long as I can or as long as I have to. I hope the day comes where dolphins, mantas, sharks, whales, and bluefin tuna are all protected and there won't be a need for this kind of a blog. I guess you could say I really do want to see this blog get shutdown in a sense. For now though Operation Kibou rages on. Expect another blog by the end of the week and until then... Here is a letter from me to all of you!

I know I've said it before, but thank you all very much for making this blog what it is today. Before Operation Forgotten, I was seriously considering letting this blog fall to the wayside. I had lost a lot of motivation, but thanks to some encouragement from some people in my life I realized what a mistake this would be. So  I kept going and now I feel like this is a little something special. I never aimed for this to be big, but when I see daily views between 60 and 100 on a daily basis, and when I type in on google a voice for the voiceless sharks I see a plethora of these blogs I really can't help but feel that people are reading and becoming aware of what is going on in our oceans. So if you are drinking any kind of beverage as I am now. Raise your glass and toast to yourself for being a part of the fight to save our seas! We may not have the ability to go out and take direct action against those who are killing everything we may hold near and dear to our heats, but we have out voices and we always will. Thank you all for being a part of A Voice for the Voiceless and I sincerely hope that you will continue to fight alongside me for these animals. Thank you all again.

Doug Hack

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