Friday, May 16, 2014

Operation Bleeding Seas II Special: Why I Hate Pandas

Greetings once again everyone. I hope all is well. Today I have something different for all of you. This blog will not be written by me, so you all get a break from my ramblings and rantings. Originally I was going to do a shark blog to kick off my vacation, but instead I asked if Chelsey would like to do a blog and she said yes. For those of you who are new, Chelsey Skidmore did a couple blogs during Operation Kibou which were very interesting reads to say the least. She is newly getting into the activist scene and hopefully you'll all be seeing more of her in the near future. Just a reminder to everyone that I will be away from home for a week so don't expect any blogs. Any news and happenings over the next week I'll be posting on Twitter if I have the time (may or may not). So if you'd like to keep up to date with that as well as OpKillingBay2 and other things feel free to follow Without further delay, heeeeere's Chelsey!

Hey everyone! I wrote a blog or two a while ago and I’m back again! For those of you who are new followers- welcome! This blog is all about how conservation doesn’t always focus on the issues that need attention. I’m not an expert, but I’ll try to offer you a brief survey of some topics of concern, and hopefully entertain you along the way. Thanks for reading!  -Chelsey 

Pandas. The adorable animal is a symbol of peace, a part of Asian culture, and can boast that it is the face of companies such as World Wildlife Fund and Panda Express Chinese Restaurant. Now, let me first say, I have nothing against any of that: peace is nice, I love WWF, Panda Express is delicious, and I find Asian culture fascinating …except Taiji....and shark fin soup....alright maybe that was a bad example.... but I did enjoy the lizard from Mulan!   

Anyway, my issue with pandas has to do with society's focus on large mammals, especially the cute furry ones. We pay so much attention to certain animals, such as polar bears, lions, and pandas, when so many other living creatures need our attention, and desperately. 

Dolphins and Whales
There is so much controversy and attention on dolphins and whales now because of the movie Blackfish, making cetaceans in captivity a hot topic. Can we steer this attention to the ones in the wild? Their wild cousins are victims of Japan's glorious practice of slaughtering dolphins in Taiji, and if you're reading this blog you probably know more than you ever wanted to about that. If marine parks did not have dolphins or whales in captivity, the Taiji murderers would not have a monetary incentive- a single dolphin can fetch over $150,000. Without strong conservation efforts, and a stop to large slaughters, the future looks bleak for these animals. 

I can’t think of a creature more misunderstood than sharks. A lot of people think they are mindless man-eaters. However, the International Shark Attack File reports 8 deaths from sharks in the US from 2000 to 2007. Cats, horses, pigs, cows and raccoons were responsible for 655 fatalities. Take a second to digest that, 8 vs. 655. 8, which is under 10, and 655, which is over 600- so those animals are more than 60 times more deadly! Our fear of sharks is completely unfounded, and unfortunately, this top predator is declining fast due to overfishing and finning, and its disappearance would affect every living thing in the ocean. Shark conservation groups like Shark Angels  ( and the Shark Research Institute ( are trying their best to raise awareness and save these creatures, but it’s hard to gain traction when the animals are embedded in media-spurred stereotypes. It also doesn’t help that, along with shark finning, sharks are the victims of atrocities like the Australian cull. What if Australia was culling kangaroos instead? Or koalas? The world would be in an uproar, and why? Because koalas and kangaroos are furry, cute, and likeable, and sharks are not.

Overfishing. “Over” as in too much and “fishing” as in catching and killing fish. Fish are a huge food source for humans, and we don’t focus on them as much as we should. For proper management, we need: protection of habitat, controls on by-catch, safe catch limits, and strict enforcement. As a consumer, you have a responsibility to chose seafood that is caught in a sustainable manner. I love Seafood Watch, and if you don’t know what that is, check it out at They even have an app so you can access their seafood guide on your smartphone! If you haven’t already, read my previous blog that focused on overfishing, especially the declining numbers of the Bluefin Tuna.

Frogs and their cousins are all in grave danger because of the chytrid fungus. The fungus embeds in the keratin of their skin and inhibits them from performing gas exchange and obtaining certain salts and nutrients. The subsequent change in their electrolyte levels kills them. It’s frightening because amphibians play a huge role in the ecosystem. From my experience talking to people, most of the public is unaware of this situation, and that needs to change. Just because frogs aren’t fuzzy doesn’t mean we should care about them less! If you want to read more, Jeff Corwin has some interesting tales about his work with frogs:

In conclusion, I think it’s wrong to pay more attention to the conservation of cute and fuzzy animals. Now, we can avoid all the issues with animal stereotyping if we just focus on saving habitat. Say we put lots of effort in preserving the mangrove forests in the Florida Keys. Not only do we help the endangered and cutesy wootsy Key Deer, we help conserve every other animal in that habitat! That's great for everyone. So please, please keep an open mind when it comes to different animal species. Just because sharks look scary doesn’t mean we should kill them. Just because frogs are slimy doesn’t mean we should let them die off. These animals need our attention and our help, no matter what our opinion of them is. That is why I hate pandas, and why you should too.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of my blog! Just for that, you get a cookie. Actually, I don’t have any cookies. But know that if I did, I would give you one, because that’s how much I appreciate you reading my blog. Conservation is cooperative, so spread the word, talk to your friends and family, and we can make a difference. Thank you for reading.    

So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, there you have it. I completely agree with Chelsey that we as humans focus entirely too much on the cute and fuzzy and not really on the animals that are most important to their environment. While I am by no means in support of abandoning panda conservation or anything like that, I am in heavy favor of focusing less on them and other big cute and fuzzy animals that do not greatly impact their environment. Without pandas, sure bamboo forests may be bigger than ever before. Without sharks, the oceans will never survive. The loss of cetaceans would also greatly affect the environment as well. So in conclusion of this final blog before I leave for vacation I have to say this. Regardless as to which animals you love or don't love keep in mind that many of them are incredibly important to their respective ecosystems. Think about a world without those ugly tuna and sharks. Think about a world without the majestic tiger and lion. It's not a place that I'd want to live. Without pandas and certain other cute and fuzzy animals, life would continue on as these animals are not apex predators. Take away the top link anywhere and the food chain will in time collapse into a royal mess. 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Welcome to Beautiful Taiji, a Little Town With a Horrible Secret

Greetings once again everyone. I hope all is well. Before I get started I'd just like to say that my school stuff is finally quieting down a bit so I will be able to be on here more so huzzah about that. On another note I'd just like to remind you guys that I will be out of state from the 17th through the 25th, so please don't expect any blogs during that time. With that being said, let's get on with this.


Welcome one and all to beautiful Taiji, Japan.

Taiji, just a quiet little town in southern Japan with a local fishing community and a deep and caring love for dolphins. Walk the streets and ask people what they think of dolphins. Chances are the responses you get will be not all that different from anywhere else in the world. Yes the majority of people in Taiji do love and are amazed by dolphins just like the rest of the world. There are statues and banners throughout the town. People back in the day would probably think that the people of Taiji literally worship dolphins. Look a little bit deeper into the town and you'll find the truth though as to why Taiji and dolphins are so closely linked.

It's beautiful isn't it? The greenery, the beach, the perfect place for people to go observe dolphins and other marine life. This ladies and gentlemen is the cove. It looks so peaceful. Throughout much of the year it is. However from September through the spring it looks more like this.

Yes the beautiful cove runs red with blood throughout a good portion of the year. Not just with any blood either. This is the blood of the same animals that any tourist walking the streets of Taiji would think the people of Taiji love, dolphins. Sadly, not all of Taiji love dolphins. There is a nasty, nasty business going on that frankly the general public hardly knows anything about. In fact until The Cove was released, the majority of people living in Taiji had no idea the slaughter of dolphins was happening in their own backyards.

The Taiji dolphin slaughter has become one of the world's worst kept secrets as conservation groups have exposed the slaughter and it's true motives. Japan claims that the slaughter is a tradition that dates back many many years. In reality this slaughter has only been around for a couple decades. In reality this slaughter is no more traditional then sending massive ships down to Antarctica to shoot whales with exploding harpoons. The government of Japan says that the slaughter is necessary to feed the country. If that was the case then the meat of the dolphins would not have to be disguised as tuna as Anonymous discovered or as other whale meat as the team of The Cove revealed. Simply put. The dolphin meat is not selling anywhere near enough to be deemed necessary to feed a country. Less and less people are actually eating dolphin in Japan as more and more people are becoming aware as to where it comes from and how it gets to them. So before we go into what is really driving this slaughter, cause it clearly is not hunger, let's take a look at how this slaughter even happens.

The first thing to happen is a fleet of boats head out to see in search for dolphins. Upon finding a pod they get into the formation below and begin to make a lot of noise. People will bang the sides of the boats, scaring the dolphins into changing their course. The smaller skiffs will be used to prevent the dolphins from getting away from the wall of sounds. Since dolphins are incredible sensitive to sound, the boats banging equates to an underwater wall of sound that virtually pushes the dolphins towards the cove.

Once in the cove, the dolphins are netted off and apparently become property of Japan. Depending on the size of the pod, it may be separated into several smaller groups. At this time, babies are often ripped away from their mothers as the fisherman show no care at all in separating the dolphins. Some have already been injured from being ran over by careless skiff drivers. What happens next can be one of two things. Either the dolphins will be left overnight with no food or trainers from around the world will begin a selection of the best looking dolphins to be sold into captivity.

The fate of the dolphins that are not sold into captivity is one of the most horrific things on this planet.

Watch the above video to fully understand what it is that goes on in the cove. Words cannot describe the horror that these animals are forced to see and feel. So what drives this slaughter?

As I mentioned before, the Japanese government will say that the drive is needed to ensure the long term survival of the Japanese people. In reality though it is all about the sale of the dolphins into captivity. While dolphin meat sells for a pretty low price. The price of a live dolphin being sold into captivity can well exceed $50,000 USD. With that number, it's not hard to see why this is going on. Rather than release the unselected dolphins, there is still some money to be made so the rest of the dolphins are then slaughtered. As you can see the slaughter itself is incredibly barbaric and hopefully you will agree that there is simply no place for it in this world. That is why I have joined the fight to see it all come to an end. Time and time again I, along with countless others have called out to organizations such as Sea World to end their support of this barbaric practice. So far none of the organizations have done so and now we have simply seen enough.

The people are now taking a stand for the animals that facilities such as Sea World and organizations such as WAZA and IMATA claim to care so much about. Their greed and lust for money has severely clouded their ways and while they may say they do not agree with the drive hunts, they have done nothing to stop it. All that an organization like Sea World would need to do is say to the world "do not purchase dolphins from Taiji". I would place money that marine parks world wide would listen to what the omega of marine parks says, with the exception of those in Japan, and end their buying from Taiji. Within a short time this slaughter would be gone. For me this has nothing to do with emptying the tanks or freeing the animals that are already in captivity. For me this is about ending an incredibly barbaric practice that has been allowed to go on for far too long. If groups like WAZA and IMATA continue to show sympathy and not take a stand for the animals they claim to care so much about, then they are an enemy in this battle. Sea World has dolphins living in it's facilities with Taiji blood running through them. They claim to have changed their ways and no longer buy from Taiji. So why are they so afraid to come out and tell them to stop for the animals they claim to care about so much. Until they do so, they are continuing to support the hunt and the killing and therefore are an enemy as well.

These are just a few of the groups that can speak up for the dolphins, but simply wont. They have all the power in the world to put this slaughter to rest, but they wont. Why you ask? It's all about the all powerful dollar. There is still a mountain of money to be made and each one of these corrupt organizations are putting that money in front of the animals that again, they claim to love so much. Normally I wouldn't post stuff like what I'm about to post as I usually stay out of the whole captivity debate as I am far, far more focused on the animals in the wild, but there is a truth here and that is...


Is the sole reason that this


Without the insane amount of money that the Taiji fishermen get from these parks, the slaughter would not be able to sustain itself and it would die out. It's simple economics. If you feel that boycotting the parks will drop the demand for dolphins, go ahead and boycott them, from what I'm told it has done quite a number on Sea World over the whole Blackfish scenario. Keep in mind though that boycotting Sea World will not be enough as there are many other marine parks around the world that have at one point or another given money to the Taiji fishermen. Again, I tend to stay out of the whole captivity debate outside of making it clear that I do not believe that cetaceans (small or large) should be being brought into captivity and that is all I'm going to say about that stuff.

One of the more common things that are asked is what are the fishermen to do if they can't hunt the dolphins. That's an easy answer. Fish for something else, or better yet, the town of Taiji should put dolphin watching tours in place where visitors can go out on boats and watch the dolphins in the ocean. There is a ton of money to be made in dolphin tourism.  Until the time comes though that this little town changes it's ways, we will continue to fight. In an overall ugly move, the town of Taiji has decided to do something "nice" for the dolphins. Taiji is currently working on building a marine park of it's own, pretty much down the street from the cove if I understand correctly. This facility will allow guests to swim with the dolphins.... and then eat dolphin afterwords... Picture going to lets say a puppy show and then eating a puppy after the show was over. I don't know anyone who could honestly even do that. This also means more dolphins being removed from the wild and more killings to take place. Again, we will not allow this to happen without making life for those involved a nightmare.

Who is this we I am talking about? There are many of us and after learning what happens in the disturbing little town of Taiji, I hope you would also like to take action against this slaughter. There are many ways you can. Many people have boycotted marine parks, but many have also decided to take the fight to those directly responsible. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project, and several others are actively peacefully protesting at the cove throughout the drive hunt season. One, newer group to the scene is the collective known as, Anonymous.

Odds are you have seen members of Anonymous if you have been in any big city such as New York. These are the men and women you see walking around wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Their numbers are numerous and a good number of them have shifted their eyes towards Taiji. Welcome one and all to Operation Killing Bay 2 (#OpKillingBay2). Members of the Anonymous collective have decided to once again take a stand against the incredibly brutal slaughters that take place in the cove of Taiji, Japan. Once the operation begins, Anonymous will work around the clock to bring down as many websites as possible that are in support of Taiji. Some of these sites include those of Sea World, IMATA, WAZA, the Taiji Police Department, Georgia Aquarium, and many others.

So why am I adding all of this to this blog? Why would you want a part of this collective? Well folks, this is NOT just for hactivists. In fact, this operation is for anyone who is sick and tired of this slaughter. We are all standing up to those who encourage, support, and sustain it. If you have a Facebook or a Twitter account then you have a voice and it takes literally nothing to join. On Twitter simply use the hashtag #OpKillingBay2. On Facebook visit and join us to keep up with what Anonymous is planning for Taiji and to connect with other activists on this issue. Be as aggressive as you want to be with these people, but be sure to get your point across that you do not support what they are supporting.

United we all can make a difference. In the end we are all just regular people that are out to make a difference for the dolphins of Taiji. None of us are in it for fame. We are in it for those who do not have a voice. These people have been allowed to spill the blood of the innocent for far too long. It is time that the world shows them that we do not have to idly sit by and watch as a non traditional slaughter takes place for nothing more than profit. Again, I stress that you do not have to be a hacker or do anything illegal to be a part of this movement!

Well ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it has come to my attention that Memorial Day is quickly approaching. This means that the annual sharks of New Jersey blog will be on it's way soon, so stay tuned and be prepared to learn about some of the sharks that visit New Jersey throughout the year!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Final Figures for W.A. Shark Cull Tells the Story

Greetings again everyone. Well I said if I found the figures for the West Australia Shark Cull that I would do a blog on them and low and behold a few days later I have found them. The figures that were released are, to me, quite disturbing and really tells the tale of this entire cull. So without further delay let us take a look at just how effective the West Australia Shark Cull was at catching it's intended catch (bull, great white, and tiger sharks).

Great white sharks: 0

Bull sharks: 1 (very small/released)

Northwest blowfish: 1 (not an intended catch)

Spinner sharks: 1 (not an intended catch)

Dusky whaler: 1 (not an intended catch)
A large gray shark swimming over sand and scattered rocks, being shadowed by a smaller fish with a horizontal stripe and a forked tail

Mako: 3 (not an intended catch. Unknown if shortfin or longfin)

Stingray: 7 (not an intended catch. Species not recorded)

Tiger sharks: 157

Really staggering numbers. So before I go any further. This is not the number of animals that were killed. Roughly 70% of the sharks that were caught during this cull were released due to being to small to fit the criteria for killing. We do know that some of those sharks did die after being released, but since we do not know the actual number, we will never truly know how many sharks were killed as a result of this cull. Now from looking at these numbers, one can effectively tell a story about this cull when looking at what was said at the start of the cull versus what actually happened during and it's results.

At the start of the cull, the government stated that only animals that were larger than 3 meters in length would be able to bite the hooks. Well. Considering that nearly 70% of the sharks caught were less than that 3 meters, I would consider that either ignorance or a flat out lie. I have a very hard time believing that a blowfish of all things would be able to bite a hook that was so big only monster sharks could bite it. Next. The West Australian Government wanted to catch and kill the ever dangerous great white sharks that were apparently prowling the waters like Jaws and just waiting for people to take a swim. They failed at that. Not a single great white was caught. On that same page, only 1 baby bull shark was caught and they were supposed to be all over the place too. Out of the three intended targets, only one was the cull successful at catching, the tiger shark. Again, the majority of these sharks were undersized, but still a good number of them were killed or died after being released. I've said it before and I will say it again. The tiger shark had no reason to be a part of this cull. Is it aggressive? Yes. Has it killed anyone in Australia in over 40 years? No. They have been cited in zero deaths for a long time now yet the West Australian Government chose to include them is this failure of a cull.

The story of this cull as it has been from the get go is that it is a government program that was specifically designed to try and relieve the fear that people have of sharks. It was an attempt to get people to come to the beaches of West Australia and know that you will not get bitten by a shark. It was an attempt to severely damage the populations of bull, tiger, and great whites that failed miserably with two of those three species. The tiger shark population has taken a hit. There is no way around it. When you have an animal that is very slow to mature let alone reproduce, it does not take much to start seeing their populations head south when they are being hunted down. Lastly it was a desperate attempt to increase tourism during a time of economic uncertainty. That's the kicker right there. How do you get people to the beaches? Make them feel safer. How do you make them feel safer? Kill the sharks. Do I think this cull actually helped tourism? Perhaps, but not in the way the W.A. government would have liked to have seen it. If anything I'd say the protesters coming from all over the place are the only thing that probably increased tourism. Frankly, the majority of people that are afraid of sharks that I have come in contact with still love to sit on the beach. They just stay out of the ocean.

As I have recently mentioned. W.A. is seeking to extend this program for another three years. That would be potentially completely catastrophic to the tiger shark populations in West Australia if this is allowed to happen. As we go through the summer months I will keep my eyes peeled for any news regarding the extension of this program. For now though I mourn the completely senseless loss 163 sharks that either died or had an absolutely horrific experience as a result of this cull and I thank those who were out on boats every day documenting this horrible event. West Australians for Shark Conservation and Sea Shepherd Australia are the two organizations that I followed throughout this cull and I thank them for all that they have done to bring images and video of this massacre to the world. Government of West Australia. I sincerely hope you feel a great sense of shame for this practice, but judging by your actions since the end of the cull, I'd say you have none.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Legion Grows for the Dolphins

Greetings once again everyone. I hope all is well. Things have remained quite busy over here as far as life in general and now with Operation Killing Bay II getting ready to take off, things look as busy as ever. First off I want to let you all know that I will be on vacation from May 17th until Memorial Day, so don't expect anything new during that time period. With that out of the way... Operation Killing Bay II is quickly approaching and the final warnings have been handed out by Anonymous. This time though, they are not alone. Another group known as #NoSecNation has joined forces with Anonymous for Operation Killing Bay II. Here is #NoSecNation's letter to the Government of Japan...

"Goverment of Japan, We are the #NoSecNation
We have decided to join in the #Opkillingbay #OpKillingBay Press Release Greetings, citizens of the world. This is a message from the The #NoSecNation. We have been receiving disturbing reports of dolphin slaughter in the village of Taiji in Japan. Innocent and fun loving dolphins are being lured into traps laid out by the Taiji butchers, and are ultimately either captured and transported to marine parks worldwide, or are killed, and their flesh is sold as whale meat by companies such as Yahoo, despite several health concerns. The next issue is your whaling expeditions that even though the I.C.J ruled against you, you allready made plans for a JARPA 3 program. to resume your whale poaching activities. This will not be tollerated. The ultimate purpose of this message: Government of Japan, we have been watching you and your sick actions from a very long time. Despite several pleas from the international community, you have not stopped butchering these mammals, for your personal gains. You are putting your people's lives at risk by allowing them to consume whale meat. Not only that, you have brought great shame upon Japan by performing these acts. This is our final warning, STOP these slaughters IMMEDIATELY, or get ready to face the extent of our wrath. To the activists at Taiji,and the Antarctic whale sanctuary know that #NoSecNation and the Anonymous collective stands with you in your every step. Keep documenting these violations, something which the main stream media will never bother to do. As for the Japanese Government, you have been warned. Your internet and your goverment websites and databases are at out mercy! Supporters and facilitators, We are watching you! Dolphinariums and marineparks, Consider your selfs targets! #OpKillingBay initiated. #OpJapan revived. We are The #NoSecNation Supported by Anonymous & LulzSec We #ShowNoMercy Expect Us."

The pieces are starting to fall into place for this operation to be a truly massive, and global one. People are sick and tired of sitting and watching as governments and organizations of power continue to do nothing but sit and watch Japanese poachers slaughter cetaceans. History has shown that when the government fails to do it's job, the people will rise up. For the dolphins, people are rising up. Enough is enough and the time for sitting and watching is over. Anonymous and their friends will attack any and all Taiji sympathizers and supporters. They will do so with no remorse and no mercy and those organizations have shown no mercy towards the animals they claim to love so dearly. For me, this isn't an issue of captivity vs empty the tanks or anything like that. For me this boils down to these organizations are all guilty of supporting a completely barbaric practice while claiming to do such amazing things for these animals. WAZA, IMATA, and so many others have all failed the dolphins and now it is time for us to speak for them. Operation Killing Bay II kicks off very soon and if I was a part of any of those organizations... I'd be prepared cause there are some infuriated people heading your way. 

My next blog will be a return to West Australia where the final figures of the bloody shark cull have
officially been released. While I put that blog together I warn you already that the numbers are extremely difficult to comprehend if you know anything about sharks. Following that blog will be a blog introducing those who may be reading this blog for the first time, or those who are unaware as to what is going on, the horror that is Taiji, Japan. Operation Bleeding Seas II rolls onwards!