Saturday, January 25, 2014

Operation Kibou Update Time!

Greetings everyone. I apologize again for the slowness of blogs lately. It's been a pretty crazy month and honestly I have not had the time to actually sit and type one of these up so I'm going to try to catch everyone up on what is happening in one shot. I should also have a little bit more time on my hands over the next week or so, so expect more during the week. So this blog features some good, some bad, and some ugly. Let's start with the good.

The good news broke yesterday out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. After a period of wicked weather and harsh conditions, Sea Shepherd has once again located the Japanese Whaling Fleet. Currently, the factory ship is boxed in between two conservation vessels. One of which (The Steve Irwin) is ahead of the floating slaughterhouse and the other behind (the Bob Barker). The third conservation vessel, The Sam Simon is also in the area keeping tabs on the rest of the whaling fleet. How Sea Shepherd was able to track them down apparently has to do with Australia's survey flights as Sea Shepherd claims to have had gotten information on the whaling fleet's whereabouts from the Australian Environmental Minister Greg Hunt. As they neared the fleet they also were able to follow a trail of whale guts that the whalers had thrown overboard. With Sea Shepherd on the tail of the whaling fleet, no whaling will be going on. The fleet is heading North and away from the whaling grounds once again. Last time, the fleet was able to lose the pursuit of the conservationists, but with a vessel in front of the factory ship as well as behind, it will be much more difficult for the whaling fleet to achieve. Violence however is inevitable and the longer Sea Shepherd remains on their tails, the greater the probability of a conflict becomes. Despite helping Sea Shepherd find the whaling fleet, Australia has yet to send a vessel to the whaling grounds and ensure that their waters are safe from both violence and poaching.

Bad news is that the shark cull in West Australia is set to very soon. Despite continuing mounting pressure, the West Australian government has gone ahead with it's plan to kill any tiger, bull, or great white shark that is larger than 3 meteres. Conservationists have set up a national rally day on February 1st in hopes of disrupting the installation of the lines that will be used to kill the sharks. The plan has seen a small setback as several private contractors have backed out of the plan after allegedly being scared by conservationist threats. In response to this, fisheries officers will now be tasked with putting the lines in place during the upcoming weeks.

Now for the ugly, and boy do I mean UGLY. January 17th, 2014. This was the day that a superpod of 250 bottlenose dolphins were slated to be sold into captivity or slaughtered in the cove of Taiji, Japan. Nobody could have imagined what would come about over the next 4 days.
The first half of the superpod were netted off while the second group was being herded to the cove.

Along with the adults, an infant albino dolphin was herded into the cove.

The baby albino was quickly removed from it's mother and placed in a special area as it was quickly selected for captivity. It wasn't until later that it was discovered that this baby is possibly both deaf and blind. This will drastically it's value. The current status of the baby is also unknown, but many fear that it will not survive long without it's mother.

For four days, this pod was kept from the ocean. Kept from freedom, and kept from food. They endured incredible fear and abuse as the captive selection proved to be just are frightening as the slaughters themselves. Time and time again, dolphins would get caught in the nets of the cove in a desperate attempt at reaching freedom.

Skiffs would run them over constantly. Injuring many.

For 8 hours a day for four days this would go on. Any dolphin who was found injured or undesirable was driven into the killing shore and slaughtered.

During these four days, social media literally exploded with outrage over what was going on in Taiji. For the first time in quite a while, the cove was making headlines in the news. CNN and other major news outlets ran multiple pieces on the situation and the fury that it was causing on the internet.

Caroline Kennedy, the United States Ambassador to Japan took to Twitter and expressed her deep concern over the drive hunt in Taiji.

The hacktivist group, Anonymous, launched Opertaion Killingbay Phase 2 and viciously hacked over 150 websites and even took Sea World's website offline multiple times for their failure to defend the animals they claim to love.

Japan has openly come out and finally admitted that this slaughter is not just about tradition and feeding the people of Japan. Japan has admitted that this in fact is a cull. They have stated that they are killing dolphins partially in an attempt to reduce their numbers so the fisheries will not be affected by them. This is the same thing that has been done time and time again around the world and has failed time and time again. Remove predators from an ecosystem and you will eventually have a big, big problem.

The real driving force however continues to be the captivity industry. This superpod would never have been driven into the cove if it wasn't for the captive trade. Doubt that? Okay let me lay this out for you. 52 bottlenose dolphins from this pod were taken into captivity. Each dolphin, not including the albino who would sell for much higher, can sell for roughly $200,000. Each dolphin that is killed sells for at most a couple hundred. Do the math. It doesn't take much to realize where the big money is in this madness. Take that big money away and you are looking at a hunt that would not profit Japan at all after paying the salaries of the fisherman, boat upkeep, and all of the other expenses before a dead dolphin goes to market. If anything chances are Japan would actually lose money given the fact that the demand for dolphin meat is not that high to begin with.

Out of the massive pod, 52 were sold into captivity, 41 died due to injuries, stress, etc., and 130-140 were driven back out to sea (probably due to mounting media pressure) by the same tactics that drove them in. The mother of the baby albino dolphin is dead. An unknown number of these animals will not survive the stress and horrors that will be in their memory for a long time to come. Two pods of bottlenose dolphins had to suffer 4 days of starvation, abuse, and having to endure the pain of having loved ones literally ripped away from them. The world watched the brutal captive selection and could see the cove run red with the blood of the innocent. Japan continues to defend itself from mounting pressure, but for how long will they be able to keep it up? How long until this disgusting spirit that the government of Taiji is finally brought down a notch? Something is going to have to give soon. People, myself included, are growing tired of waiting and some are becoming simply outraged. The media has it's eyes back on Taiji, which has scared the fisherman.

Taiji fisherman have not commented to the media about the killing. They have apparently been running and trying to hide everything behind tarps. Then the Taiji government claims that it is a proud tradition. If they are so proud of it... Why hide it? They tried to say that the superpod was the last of the hunt for the season, but that fooled no one as conservationists were quick to alert the media that the dolphin hunt runs through March. All eyes are on that small cove in Taiji, Japan. Conservationists smell blood in the water and are now in a frenzy of spreading the word about the horrid slaughter.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the... God awful ugly... That also catches you all up on what's been going on with Operation Kibou. I've been incredibly busy on Twitter doing my part to spread awareness for the dolphins of Taiji. At times Twitter looks like a war zone between trolling robots and conservationists. Literally robots programmed by people to tweet about the good things in whaling and the dolphin hunt. I.E. the Yushin Maru No. 1's Twitter account.

So before I sign off for the night, I'd like to inform you of a new operation that Anonymous has launched. The operation is called Operation Funkill #OpFunKill . This operation stands against animal cruelty of all kinds. Whether it is shark finning, the Taiji dolphin slaughter, the ivory trade, lion poaching, etc. OpFunKill will be making a stand against it. These are hacktivists and activists who have had enough of sitting and watching as the natural world burns. Feel free to visit their website here and until next time, I bid you a fond farewell!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Urgent: Superpod of Dolphins to be Slaughtered TODAY

Greetings all. Normally I wouldn't do this, but to anyone who reads this I have a request. Currently in Taiji Japan, roughly 250 bottlenose dolphins are awaiting slaughter and sales into captivity. Included in this pod are babies, juveniles, adults, and even one rare albino bottlenose.

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The Taiji murderers will begin the killing process around 5:00pm EST. The pod has been in the cove since yesterday without food. This is the largest pod Japan has ever taken into the cove. This is what awaits them...
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These animals need help immediately. Please, if anyone reading this happens to have a Twitter or Facebook account, use it as a means to spread the word about what is going to happen today. The Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians are trying to get the #Tweet4Taiji trending on both Twitter and Facebook. If you could spare a moment, here are some sample tweets that have been being used against this slaughter...

This is a very serious situation. Japan equates this killing to the Western World killing cows. Last check shows that the species of cow that the Western World generally eats is extinct in the wild. The bottlenose dolphin is not. The cows are bred with the intent to be eaten. Like it or not, or if it's right or not is irrelevant right now. We can debate that later. Right now though we all need to work together in a last effort to save 250 bottlenose dolphins that have now been taken out of the wild and await either captivity or death. Tweet away, post statuses, bombard embassies with calls and email ( Whatever you can think of to try and save these animals. This is a call to action. Let's be a voice for the dolphins who have none TODAY!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lost Shark Found!

Greetings once again to all. This morning we'll be looking at a species of shark that was lost, but has now been found. By that I mean we will be looking at a species of shark that was thought to be extinct, but has now been rediscovered. The species of shark is known as the smoothtooth blacktip shark. The first sighting of this shark was in Yemen back in 1902. That shark was kept in a museum until 1985 when it was actually identified as a new species of shark. That one shark was the only member of it's species ever to be found leading some scientists to say that it was an invalid species while others simply stated that the species had gone extinct. Fast forward to 2008.

It was  then that a shark conservation research expedition to a Kuwait fish market had taken place. Along with the other species of shark, conservationists notices a couple sharks that looks slightly different than the others. Analysis concluded that these sharks were in fact smoothtooth blacktip sharks! Since then, 47 additional reports of smoothtooth blacktip sharks have surfaced in the region's fish markets. The smoothtooth blacktip is not extinct, not yet anyway. Now the question is, what is the status of these sharks? Clearly they do not have a massive population, otherwise one would think more than 50 or so would have been identified over the course of the last century. The IUCN's Red List currently lists this species as Vulnerable to extinction.

What does the future hold for these sharks? Nobody, and I mean nobody really knows. There are no conservation measures in place for this species of shark and honestly, we do not even know the extent of this shark's range. If it is isolated to the areas around the middle east, localized conservation efforts could and really should come up given the mysterious population this shark has. If this shark begins to be spotted in other areas of the world, then scientists and conservationists need to have a nice sit down and try to learn more about an animal that lives on this planet that we thought had been lost.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Iceland Prepares for Whale Beer

Greetings everyone and welcome once again to Operation Kibou. Earlier today I was informed by my good friend at the Shark Research Institute ( that a new alcoholic drink is coming out in Iceland. Now how in the world does this pertain to sharks, dolphins, or whales you ask? Well what happens when you get a brewing company and a whaling company working with each other? Nothing good that's for sure and that is now the case in Iceland. The brewing company, Steoji, has partnered with the whaling company, Hvalur in an effort to make a beer that has whale meat inside.

Yes you read that right. This beer will contain whale. The owner of the brewery, Dabjartur Ariliusson says that "Whale meal is very protein rich, and has almost no fat in it. That, along with the fact that no sugar is added, makes this a very healthful drink, and people will be true Vikings drinking it". The beer is set to be sold for a limited time from January 24th to February 22nd. The species of whale that will be used in this beer are not specified anywhere that I can find, but given Iceland's recent track record, one would think that the Endangered Fin Whale will be included in this strange beverage. Just last year Iceland was exposed for using Endangered Fin Whale meat in dog food and conservationists claim that the whaling fleet is at least partially run on fin whale oil. This is an Endangered Species we are talking about here. This is not some animal that if you kill one, ten more show up. No. The fin whale is in a lot of trouble and Iceland seems to completely ignore, or not care about that well known fact. So why is this beverage even being made?

Nobody knows for sure the details between the deal that the brewing and whaling companies have, but it's not hard to speculate as to why the whaling company may seek to get their product into as many places as they can. Take a look at the few nations who still whale commercially. Iceland, Norway, Japan, etc. There is a common trend. The demand for whale meat is on the decline. Less and less people are eating whale for one reason or another. Some feel that eating whale is simply morally wrong as these animals would never attack a person. Others fear the health risks, such mercury poisoning, that are associated with eating whale meat. Some, myself included, just think that the whole process of hunting, packaging, and lying to the public about how the meat is sold is just outright disgusting and has no place in the year 2014. Whatever the reason, people are not eating the meat like they used to and it has gotten the companies who whale desperate to find a way to sell their product.

I have no doubts that people will try this beer and chances are, it will taste just like any other beer. It will be bitter. It will contain alcohol. It will also contain whale which means to at least some extent, it will probably also contain mercury. The whaling industry, with this move is, from what I can see, desperately searching for a target audience. The average family isn't just going out and putting whale meat on the table anymore. Bars are popular pretty much no matter where you go, so why not try to market it there somehow? Why not try cramming it into dog food and see if the public notices? It's a gamble. So is this beer. The brewing company knows this and even admits that the ingredients are unusual and even says "Doubtless some people won't like it, there is a certain risk and we are aware of that...". In the end this beer will be short lived, but at what cost? Some species of whales live for a very long time. Is a beer really worth the life of any Endangered animal? I find it incredibly hard to believe that it is, but for the companies who sell these Endangered animals, one beer sold is all the more reason to kill more of these amazing creatures. Luckily, the product will be sold exclusively in Iceland and only for the time stated above. Hopefully the product flops and the brewing company sees the light and decides to end whatever partnership it may have with the whaling industry.

All quotes in this blog are from the following article 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Australians Have Spoken for Sharks!/Japanese Harpoon Vessel Close to Entering Australian Waters

Good evening once again to all of you. Hope all is going well. Not too many complaints here and even if there were, here is not the place to talk about them now is it? No it is not, tonight this is the place to talk about two topics. One is a massive protest that took place a few days ago on the beaches of West Australia against the government's plan to kill sharks in order to make beaches safer. The other is that, as expected, the Japanese whaling fleet has partially re-entered the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. First though the sharks!

Conservation groups throughout West Australia banded together to produce a massive rally in support of the sharks whom are being threatened by the West Australian Government. Some of these groups include Western Australians for Shark Conservation, Animal Rescue Team, and Sea Shepherd Australia. In total, over 6,000 people came out in support of the sharks, the largest showing of any shark protest! Here is a video clip of the rally.

Meanwhile, this guy...
Thousands to join shark cull protest
Photo Credit: Perthnow News

Premier Colin Barnett continues to feel that killing these animals is going to make the beaches safer for people. He still insists that killing the sharks will magically solve an issue that is really not that big at all. In the above picture, you can see Mr. Barnett holding a very large hook. That is one of the 72 hooks that will be used for catching sharks off of several beaches in West Australia. Any bull, tiger, or great white shark that is caught and is over 3 meters in length will be shot and simply discarded at sea. Barnett claims this is not a cull. I fail to see how that is the case. Conservation groups are ready and standing by to do whatever they need to do to see this plan flop. Some plan to directly attempt to sabotage any of these drum lines that they can get to. Some claim that they will be removing any bait that is used. Others simply state that they have divers and volunteers at the ready. My hat is off to each and every one of those groups who are going to take action against this ridiculous cull. With over 6,000 people attending the rallies a few days ago, it is also unknown just how against the cull the general public is. Conservation groups are hoping that individuals who have boats and feel strongly against the cull will take action as well... Wish I had a boat down there...

The Department of Fishiries has stated that anyone who is caught attempting to sabotage the lines could be hit with a $25,000 fine or 12 months in jail. Again, I applaud each and every individual who is going to take a direct stand against this cull. The argument that the ocean is shark territory, but also ours is irrelevant, ridiculous, and frankly not even legitimate. Do we as people live in the ocean? No. Do we breathe underwater or spend excessive amounts of time in the water as seals and other marine mammals do? No. Do we have the ability to swim without using an incredible amount of energy? No. Do we need to go into the ocean to live? No. There are plenty of people who have never even seen the ocean let alone been in it. I could go on. If the ocean was our territory how could I sit here and come up with all these reasons as to why it isn't. Long story short. These animals live in the ocean. It is THEIR home. It is THEIR territory. It is NOT ours. We do not live in it. We do not occupy it. We do not, and realistically cannot truly, own it. For the West Australian Government to sit there and say they are going to slaughter sharks because they swim to close to shore and are in human territory is disgusting. They are prepared to kill these animals and yet they continue to neglect another one of their territories that oddly enough is being torn apart by people. Lets head south shall we... (Note: The shark cull is set to begin TODAY)

Down in the Southern Ocean an interesting development has occurred. One of the Japanese harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru #3 has come within 200 miles of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

 The ship is not welcomed in either of those waters. Last year, the Japanese Security Vessel, armed with armed members of the Japanese Coast Guard, ventured into the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. The response from the then Environmental Minister Tony Burke was a message to the Japanese Government demanding the ship leave. Sure enough the ship left the zone soon after the request was sent. Now eyes shift to Environmental Minister Greg Hunt to see if he too will order the Japanese to back down.

 As of yesterday, the ship had been tailing the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker while the other two Sea Shepherd ships continued to chase the poachers out of the whale sanctuary. Not only is Australia now setting out to kill sharks, but it is once again abandoning the whales living inside of it's whale sanctuary. The harpoon vessel, while not whaling, is still in contempt of a 2008 Australian Federal Court Injunction. The Japanese Whaling Fleet has ignored this injunction for years, and every year, Australia sits and does nothing about it. Instead conservationists have to do the work and uphold the law that Australia should be upholding. If Australia takes a stance once again of no action, it could be a green flag similar to what happened last year for the Japanese to do whatever they want down there. That once again will not bode well for the conservationists. Australia needs to stop sitting around and send a ship down there and do what is right. Remove the Japanese Whaling Fleet from the WHALE SANCTUARY.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Poachers Chased Out of Whale Sanctuary!

Greetings everyone. There was good news coming out of the Southern Ocean last night as the Sea Shepherd vessels continued their pursuit of the Japanese Whaling Fleet. As of last night, there were no Sea Shepherd or whaling ships inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. You can probably figure out what this means, but if you cant I will gladly tell you. Sea Shepherd, just a little over a day after finding them, has chased the entire whaling fleet out of the whale sanctuary. Here's a picture of the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese factory vessel steaming north of 60 degrees South.

Nisshin Maru leaves the Antarctic Treaty Zone

So what is going on now? Well this certainly is not the end for the whaling fleet. Not yet at least. At some point within the next day or so I'd expect them to head South again. I'm basing this off of prior years where the Nisshin Maru left the whaling grounds, returned, left again, and basically went in circles trying to lose the tail of the Sea Shepherd vessels. With all of the whaling vessels accounted, there is no whaling going on in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary! All five of the Japanese ships were spotted at the same time, and all five are as far as we know, are still accounted for and not whaling. What this does spell is big time bad news for the whaling fleet. Over the past two years in particular, Sea Shepherd has severely hampered the whalers efforts culminating in last year's record low catch by the Japanese. The amount of debt that the whaling industry is in is astronomical at this point and it really remains a mystery as to how their ships are even able to make it down to the Southern Ocean anymore. In the past, Japan has shifted funds from other programs, including the Tsunami Relief Fund to help bolster security on board the ships and help pay for the hunt. To this day I fail to see how shifting those funds helps Japan more than helping it's own people recover from the devastating Tsunami. Perhaps the Japanese don't realize just how dangerous the problem at Fukushima is becoming as more radioactive liquids continues to spill out of the facility than ever before. Of course this does not spell good news for the oceans at all.

Now that the whaling fleet is on the run sort to speak, it is only a matter of time until a conflict occurs. Last year, this happened.

That is the whaling factory ship ramming both the fuel tanker, Sun Laurel, and the Bob Barker. Luckily no one was hurt and all three ships were able to continue, but the danger of this is evident to anyone who watches. With the whaling fleet found and Sea Shepherd publicizing that the hunt in the whale sanctuary was in fact happening one would think that the Government of Australia would act. So far no plane or ship for that matter has been launched to survey what is going on with the hunt or the eight ships that at any time could become engaged in a massive ship to ship conflict. The Australian Government who promised to put an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean has turned its back not only on the whales they promised to protect, but on the people who wanted to see nothing more than to see an end to poaching in their waters. Pressure continues to mount in Australia for a ship to be sent down, but so far the Government has refused to do so and the whereabouts of this plane that is supposed to be surveying the hunt is unknown. Should the plane be there it is not on any radar system and the helicopter of the Steve Irwin has not seen any Australian planes keeping watch over the activities.

For now Sea Shepherd has won the battle, but until the Government of Australia acts, the war against whaling in the Southern Ocean will continue. Operation Relentless rages on in the Southern Ocean.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary Violated Once Again

Greetings and Happy New Year to you all. I apologize for my absence since Christmas Eve, but as expected things got crazy and it just so happens that I did not miss much between then and now. Anyway... News has literally just broke out of Sea Shepherd Australia that the Japanese Whaling Fleet has been spotted in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Sea Shepherd has confirmed through this video that whales have once again been killed by the Japanese in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

This video was taken by the Sea Shepherd vessel, Steve Irwin's, helicopter. Unlike several prior years, Sea Shepherd has managed to find all 5 of the whaling fleets ships together. As you might expect, the chase is now on. According to Sea Shepherd Australia, the Sea Shepherd ships are in pursuit of the whaling fleet who are now apparently on the run. This year, Sea Shepherd has gone down to the Southern Ocean with just three ships. The speed vessel was left behind this year, probably due to the fact that last year it sustained massive damage after being struck by a rogue wave. So the three ships that you will be seeing me blog about a great deal over the next few months include the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker, and the Sam Simon. As a quick background on these three ships...

The Steve Irwin is named after the late Steve Irwin AKA the Crocodile Hunter. This ship has been the flagship for Sea Shepherd for several years now. The Bob Barker is a former whaling ship purchased from Norway by Bob Barker and donated to Sea Shepherd. The Bob Barker has an ice class hull, so it is capable of venturing into thicker ice than the Steve Irwin. The Sam Simon is the newest edition to the Sea Shepherd fleet. Purchased and donated by one of the Simpsons creators, Sam Simon. This ship used to participate in whaling activities as well hence it's striking similarities to the Japanese whaling ships. Once used for killing, the Sam Simon now has Anti Poaching proudly written on her side.

Last year, Sea Shepherd managed to cut the whaling fleet's kill count to roughly 25% of their intended kill. One would think that Sea Shepherd plans to do the same thing this year. Last year also culminated in very violent collisions that involved the Japanese factory ship, Nisshin Maru, the Bob Barker, and the Japanese fueling ship, the Sun Laurel. Luckily no injuries on any side came as a result of the collisions, but the Bob Barker was nearly capsized by a ship that is many times their size. As a result of the mounting violence in the Southern Ocean, Australia has decided to send a plane down to the Southern Ocean to monitor the whaling fleet and any conflicts between the Japanese and Sea Shepherd. This is the way that Australia plans to avoid sending a ship down to Antarctica to defend it's whale sanctuary like the Government promised to do before being voted into office. For years, Australia has skirted around the issue of whaling in the Southern Ocean and is now patiently waiting for a court verdict as to whether or not the hunt is legal. Meanwhile, Japanese Coast Guard members and a Japanese Security Vessel are in Australian waters against three unarmed conservation ships that are forced to do the work of a Government who has decided to go against their promise to end whaling in the Southern Ocean. The whale wars are now underway and we should all hold our breath for the safety of the crews of the Sea Shepherd ships and the crews of the Whaling Fleet as well. If someone finally does get killed down there, I will point the finger towards the Australian Government who continually allow the Japanese fleet to violate a whale sanctuary that is under Australian control. Stay tuned here for updates on Sea Shepherd's Operation Relentless and also stay tuned as Operation Kibou is back underway!