Saturday, February 8, 2014

Some West Austalian Horror/#OpKillingBay Returns

Greetings everyone. Hope everything is going well with all of you. All in all there hasn't been that much news to report. West Australia is still killing sharks. Taiji is still killing dolphins. Japan is still killing whales in a whale sanctuary. Yep, everything appears to be status quo right now which means it's time for the internet war against Taiji to return. Just a few weeks ago, when the superpod of dolphins was driven into the cove, Anonymous declared that it was time for #OpKillingBay to return... And returned it has...

This phase of #OpKillingBay has seen multiple Taiji supporter websites crashed, including Sea World on several occasions and today, February 8th, 2014 there was a twitterstorm using the #OpKillingBay that. It also is starting to look like this will be the final tweetstorm of the operation and from Valentine's Day on, #OpKillingBay will be a part of #OpFunKill, and operation dedicated to fighting animal cruelty regardless of species, location, etc. Personally I think that this is a good thing and though it means some people will probably fall off the map with the switch, a larger number of people who may not be involved in saving the dolphins of Taiji will now be fighting for them! So that's what's going on with that.

I've held off a bit on blogging more about the West Australia shark cull in hopes that the government there would wise up and call it off, but that has not happened and now graphic images have started to surface fueling a lot of fire towards seeing this cull put to an end. Let's start at the first known shark to be killed during this cull to discover what I am talking about.

The first shark that was seen being caught in this cull was a tiger shark... Or was it?

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Well according to this fisherman, they had caught and killed a bull shark. I of course am no expert, but I don't think I have ever seen a striped bull shark. I think it's safe to say that the first shark killed was in fact a tiger shark. It's great to know that the hired guns of the West Australian Government don't even know what it is they are killing. Rumors have been flying that under sized sharks have also been killed intentionally despite not being large enough for the cull. In fact, they are not rumors, they are facts. Let's move on to site B.

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Here we have what is being called an undersized tiger shark. Notice the hook through the skull of the animal. Well, the fisherman apparently had a hard time getting the massive hook out, so instead they decided that this was a good idea...

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Quite literally, they cut the hook out of the sharks head. Mind you, this animal was still very much alive and very much aware as to what was going on when that blade cut into it's skull. Needless to say the animal probably died a short time later. Sea Shepherd managed to get these photos and a few others of how undersized sharks are being treated...

 This is just a small sample of what is going on in this cull that is designed to "improve safety at beaches". The number of sharks killed so far is unknown and the number of undersized sharks killed will probably wind up being hidden as it would feed the fire of protesters whom continue to actively protest the cull in West Australia. The lack of understanding on the part of the West Australia Government as to why there are so many sharks in the area is simply astounding to me.

Again, I am no expert, but I truly believe that this has a lot to do with why there are so many sharks, large and small, that have been seen over the past few years close to shore in West Australia. Humans are amazing creatures aren't they? We have computers, explosives, boats, engines, etc. We also have these things called nets. Big nets. Nets that are capable of scooping literally hundreds, if not thousands of fish out of the ocean in just one scoop. I'm not just talking about one net either. We humans have a ton of these things and we like to use them to feed ourselves, out pets, and simply to make money. What does that do to fish populations though? Well despite some fish having literally millions of babies, populations are still on the decline. It's not the fault of the fish. These fish that have so many babies are doing what they have to to survive as a species. Many of these fish are eaten by sharks and other larger fish. Naturally, the majority of these babies will not make it to adulthood. People have not helped the chances of survival for those fish at all. We come through not just with a mouth that can eat one, two, or perhaps three of these fish no. We come through with a net that can literally take an entire school of fish out of the ocean. Every time we do this we are effecting their population.

With population levels of fish decreasing at sea, predators need to look elsewhere for their food. Since a lot of the commercial fishing takes place offshore a bit, predators such as sharks, seals, and dolphins move in closer to shore to see if there is any food there. This is when these animals come in contact with people. In the case of West Australia... There has apparently been a noteworthy increase in seal populations over the past few years. I think the reason for that is twofold. One reason I think is that the seals have moved into an area where they are now able to find food. They moved to West Australia as a result of their previous home being overfished. The other reason I think there are more seals is because in general there are less sharks. Less predators to pick off seals causing their populations to increase. As you may imagine, where the seals and fish go, the sharks will go. I've got a feeling that if the seals and fish magically vanished from West Australia, the sharks would too. They are there looking for food. Nothing less, nothing more. They are not there to hunt people (which is something that the West Australian Government can't seem to grasp). Yes it is sad that there has been an increase of fatal shark attacks, but one can not logically place all of the blame on an animal that is massive compared to us and has teeth designed to bite through massive amounts of blubber, which we do not have. I have not heard one instance in all of these attacks of a shark literally eating anyone. I've heard of bites, but have yet to hear of a shark actively eating a person. We are not on the menu.

Culling these animals is not the answer. There are plenty of means that have been tested elsewhere to keep sharks away from beaches that have worked, including another shark hot spot, South Africa where shark nets and electric systems have done a pretty good job at keeping sharks away from bathers. All that the cull is going to accomplish is further injuring the already crippled populations of three species of threatened sharks. I propose a plan that would never, and I mean never, be implemented, but it's fun for me to think about. What if for a period of time, fisherman off of West Australia stopped fishing and allowed fish stocks to rally back. I'm curious what would happen. Personally, I think the sharks, and seals for that matter would be happy to return to the sea where they have to deal with less interactions with people as long as they are able to find food. I'm sure politicians would disagree with that thought, but it seems to make logical sense to me. I could be totally wrong in that thought process, but until I'm proven otherwise, that is my theory. So what is the best answer for this shark "issue"?

Outside of closing beaches I don't know that there actually is a best answer. Culling the sharks will do nothing. It will reduce overall shark populations, but it will not stop sharks from coming close to shore, and more importantly, it will not stop sharks from migrating to an area that has a consistent food source. If West Australia wants to protect bathers they need to look into ways that will be safe for both sharks and humans alike. Again, the cull is not the answer. Abusing animals that are doing nothing more than trying to survive until they bleed to death from massive cuts in their heads is not the answer. Shooting an animal 3-4 times in the head and dumping it's body at sea is not the answer. Having over 70 baited lines sitting in the water is not the answer. Government officials, fishermen, and conservationists all need to have a nice sit down and discuss real alternatives to culling. There are ways to do it as opposed to committing a needless genocide on animals that are doing the very same thing we are trying to do. Survive.

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